Jade Love-Morris set the tone early for Elizabethtown’s girls basketball team Monday night.
Warwick won the tip and was getting its offense set up when Love-Morris, the Bears’ junior defensive wunderkind, swooped in, picked off a pass, and raced to the other end for a breakaway layup to put E-town on the board.
The Bears never let up defensively the rest of the game.
Love-Morris helped E-town force 16 turnovers and she chipped in with 13 points, Elise Hassinger poured in a game-high 17 points, and E-town used a 15-0 first-half run to seize control early on the way to a 50-28 L-L League Section Two win over Warwick in E-town.
“The defensive effort was phenomenal,” Bears’ coach John Myers said. “We wanted to chase them off the 3-point line and make them put it on the floor and do something different. The kids followed the game plan, and they executed it perfectly. I loved the effort.”
That’s a 2-0 start for E-town, which is only playing its league schedule this winter because of coronavirus protocols. That’s 13 games, including the Section Two tilts and the crossover games against the Section One squads. E-town picked off defending Section Two champ Ephrata last Friday, and the Bears are back at it Thursday against Conestoga Valley.
“It feels amazing,” Hassinger said. “We’ve all been working really hard together as a team, and we feel like we’re playing really well together. I’m really proud of the team and how we’re playing. We’re off to a really great start — playing together.”
Warwick, which beat two-time reigning Section Three champ Solanco in a nonleague clash last Friday, dipped to 1-1 overall, and the Warriors are looking up at E-town in the section chase — and Warwick gets backyard rival Ephrata, which topped Lebanon 55-46 on Monday, in Lititz in another showdown clash on Wednesday.
It wasn’t all bad for Warwick on Monday; Lauren Pyle’s wing 3-pointer gave the Warriors an early 5-2 lead, and Warwick forced 17 turnovers and was able to cash in off some second-half presses.
But E-town immediately punched back after falling behind 5-2, answering with a rollicking 15-0 haymaker to take a 17-5 lead on Taryn Hummer’s transition layup with 3:03 to go in the first half.
Warwick had five points in the second quarter, all on free throws. And the Warriors went nearly two quarters without a bucket; Haley Delgiacco’s paint runner with 2:39 left in the third quarter ended the drought.
In between, it was all E-town. During the Bears’ game-changing 15-0 spree, Hummer had three buckets, Hassinger had a pair of mid-range jumpers, and Ainsley Raybold and Love-Morris drilled 3-pointers; Raybold’s trey stretched the Bears’ lead to 20-7 with 2:29 to go in the second quarter, and E-town had a safe and sound 24-10 lead at the half.
The Bears kept the onslaught going into the third quarter, with Hassinger and Raybold getting quick buckets. Warwick finally got some momentum with a 7-2 spurt, but Abby Sedun and Love-Morris had hoops, and Hassinger’s wing trey gave E-town a cozy 37-20 edge.
“Fun win,” Hassinger said. “We worked really hard together as a team to execute the game plan and get this win together.”
Kean University commit Macy Seaman plucked 13 rebounds for E-town, which out-boarded Warwick by a 31-21margin. Pyle popped in 12 points and Tanner Armstrong pulled down seven rebounds for the Warriors.
“They played with a lot of energy defensively,” Warwick coach Danny Cieniewicz said of E-town’s effort. “They took us out of any offensive rhythm with how they were playing defense. Give them a ton of credit, because their pressure really took us out of our offensive rhythm. They made us pay.”