By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP -- Steph Shamburg was doing everything for Warrior Run except actually putting the ball through the basket. She elevated for rebounds, fed teammates for assists, and swatted away steals.
Once Shamburg started scoring, the Defenders were too much for Danville to handle.
Behind multiple scoring threats, Warrior Run defeated the Ironmen, 42-34, in a Heartland Athletic Conference semifinal Friday at Shamokin H.S.
"They did an outstanding job," Warrior Run coach Jon Weaver said of his team. "Our defense in the second half was phenomenal."
After both teams struggled to score in the first half, evidenced by Danville's 12-11 lead at halftime, the pace of the game quickened in the second half.
Despite an increase in the tempo, Warrior Run (19-4) was largely able to keep a powerful Danville offense under wraps.
While Shamburg spent much of the game wreaking havoc at both ends -- finishing with 12 rebounds, five assists, six steals and three blocks -- HAC-I champion Danville kept her scoring under control until the final minute of the third.
Throughout the game, the Defenders used a stifling defense to take the Ironmen (20-3) out of their rhythm offensively, clogging passing lanes and surrounding Danville ballhandlers.
"Our defense is what we're known for," Shamburg said. "That's what we want to stress."
With the Defenders trailing by a point, 26-25, Shamburg gathered a miss, drew a foul on her putback attempt and knocked down a pair at the line to give the Defenders the lead.
The Daily Item Preseason Player of the Year finished with nine points as she worked her way inside in the fourth quarter to draw fouls, scoring seven points at the line.
While Shamburg was busy controlling the paint for the Defenders, Abby Fisher ruled the perimeter for Warrior Run. Fisher knocked down a trio of 3-pointers, all in the second half.
The trio of Fisher, Shamburg and Welliver combined to score 14 of Warrior Run's 15 points in the fourth.
Danville's comeback efforts were made more difficult as the Defenders got Ironmen playmakers into foul trouble in the first half, a trend which continued down the stretchy.
The Ironmen showed the fight that has led them to 20 wins this season, staying within a possession of the lead, ending the third quarter down 27-26.
Fisher started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer but Danville kept Warrior Run from scoring again until Amber Renz worked her way open on an inbounds play for a quick layup to cut the Warrior Run lead to two, 30-28. Renz answered a pair of Shamburg free throws to keep the game close but Fisher struck again from beyond the arc to put the Defenders ahead by five.
The Defenders kept their lead steady and were ahead by six, 38-32. Freshman Emily Webb drew an offensive foul on Renz near halfcourt, sending Renz to the bench with her fifth foul and a team-high 16 points.
n Mount Carmel 39,
COAL TOWNSHIP -- A few months after she helped lead the Red Tornadoes to a memorable season in girls soccer, Ali Varano is doing the same on the hardcourt.
Varano scored 11 points to lead all players and also lead Mount Carmel to a semifinal win in the HAC Tournament. Paige Hornung added nine points for the Red Tornadoes, who outscored the Indians 22-14 in the first half.
Mount Carmel (19-4) plays Warrior Run for the HAC title today at 6 p.m. at Williamsport H.S.