TURBOTVILLE — As Warrior Run emerged from its locker room postgame, cupcakes and cookies greeted the team on the home bench.
Though it proved to be no cake walk, Warrior Run withstood foul trouble and a stiff challenge from Lewisburg to remain atop the Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II ranks in girls basketball.
The Defenders (8-4) took the lead for good with a 9-2 spurt to open the fourth quarter, converting 10 of 14 free throws to stymie Lewisburg 43-37, preserving its perfect 4-0 mark in conference play Saturday.
Warrior Run coach Jason McCormick was absent from the sideline. Andrew Shamburg served as coach for the Defenders, saying only that McCormick was missing due to a private matter.
“We had to step up and prepare and get ready for this game,” Shamburg said. “Lewisburg has a really great team, and Grace Kelleher is a fantastic player.”
Warrior Run limited Kelleher to a pair of field goals for the game, but the Dragons’ senior point guard made her impact from the free-throw line, sinking 12 of 14 first half attempts.
Lewisburg (5-5, 2-1) generated 20 foul shots by halftime, putting Warrior Run in a bit of foul trouble, and leading by four at the half (24-20), and by as many as six in the third quarter (26-20).
“We really came together tonight (as a team),” said Avery Bieber, who scored seven of her 12 points in a decisive second half. “We had to put everything behind us and the second half showed that.”
Bieber and freshman Emily McKee scored a combined 21 points for the game the hard way — working in the low post and kicking it outside to Sydney Hoffman when needed.
“We had to post up strong and work to get their arms out of the way,” Bieber said. “We got good passes from our guards to set that up. And we needed to make good passes back (outside).”
The formula worked. Warrior Run battled back to tie the game at 28 late in the third quarter, then rattled off nine of the next 11 points in the game to take a 38-32 lead.
“We got a little stagnant on offense in the third and fourth quarter, and they stepped up after their adjustments on defense,” said Lewisburg coach Brent Sample.
Lewisburg pulled to within 38-37 thanks to field goals from Kelleher and Allie Reed and a free throw from Hope Drumm. That was as close as the Dragons got to keeping their perfect HAC-II record intact. Lewisburg scored 13 points in the second half, but also had 13 turnovers and only four free throws.
“Our bigs stepped up,” Shamburg said. “We doubled Grace and played great help side defense. Our help side defense against her (Kelleher) was huge.”
The Defenders closed the game out at the free-throw line, sinking five of six free throws to close the game. Sydney Hoffman led the Defenders with 15 points (10 in the second half). Bieber added 12 and McKee scored nine.
Kelleher led the way for Lewisburg with a game-high 16 points, while Drumm and Hilkert each added six.
“We’ve been on a roll of late and have just been playing good basketball,” Shamburg said. “We just have to keep working day in and day out.”
WARRIOR RUN 43, LEWISBURG 37
Lewisburg (5-5) 37
Grace Kelleher 2 12-16 16; Erin Hilkert 3 0-0 6; Allie Reed 1 0-0 2; Sydney Hoffman 1 0-0 3; Katy Martin 2 0-2 4; Hope Drumm 1 3-6 6. Totals 10 15-24 37.
3-point goals: Hoffman, Drumm.
Did not score: Rozi Noone, Za’imah Turner.
Warrior Run (8-4) 43
Sydney Hoffman 5 3-4 15; Taylor Coup 1 2-4 4; MiKaela Majcher 0 2-2 2; Jordan Hartman 0 1-2 1; Avery Bieber 3 6-8 12; Emily McKee 2 5-8 9. Totals 11 19-28 43.
3-point goals: Hoffman 2.
Did not score: Marissa Pick, Amber Axtman.
Score by quarters
Lewisburg`10`14`6`7 — 37
Warrior Run`10`10`9`14 — 43