UWCHLAN - Paige Warfel just wanted to help her Downingtown East teammates as much as she could.
The sophomore did just a little more than contribute.
Warfel, like the Cougars Thursday night, had a dominant all-around performance capped with a game-high 22 points as Downingtown East rolled to a 57-35 win over Bishop Shanahan in a key Ches-Mont League National Division girls basketball game.
Warfel didn't even think of her excellent performance after the game. Instead, she was excited on how her team played in a big matchup against a division title contender.
"We just wanted to give an all-around effort,' Warfel said. "The way we played tonight, it's going to set our tempo for the rest of the season.'
Downingtown East (3-0 National, 4-1 overall) wasted no time in taking command of the game from the opening tip. The Cougars started the game on a 12-0 run and never allowed the Eagles to cut the deficit to single digits at any point.
Warfel had nine points as Downingtown East led 21-2 after a quarter of play. The Cougars used their speed and size to get Shanahan in foul trouble early and eliminate the Eagles' full-court press defense.
"We had to be ready to react to their defense,' Downingtown East head coach Bob Schnure said. "I thought we did a good job to get ourselves some good baskets under that type of pressure. We shot pretty well from the line in the opening half as well.'
As for Warfel, she used her 6-foot frame to penetrate the lane and earn trips to the line as the Cougars led by 17 points heading into the break. She had 15 points at the half, converting 13-of-18 free throws in the process while only hitting one field goal.
"Paige was doing a real good job of handling the ball,' Schnure said. "Her height presented some problems for them when she was set into some traps. She uses both hands well and can get to the basket. It's nice to have a player like that on your team.'
Downingtown East continued to find Warfel in open space thanks to a strong all-around effort from Kennedi Van Eyken and Kaelyn Johns.
Van Eyken hit a game-high five field goals to finish in double figures with 11 points. She also dictated the flow of play with great off-ball movement, allowing her to control the perimeter.
The junior explained that her team's dominant defensive performance was a testament to their hard work during practice.
"We're running more and doing everything we can to get ready for the next game on our schedule,' Van Eyken said. "We just have to keep playing tough.'
Johns added five points in a solid effort on the wing. The point guard knew what she had to do in leading her team to victory.
"Paige (Warfel) obviously had a mismatch and I knew to get the ball to her,' Johns said. "Shanahan was a fast team, but we thought we could match their speed. We had to control the tempo and get the open shots early. We did that tonight.'
The Cougars used that strategy early in the second half, never putting the eventual outcome in any doubt. Downingtown East started the half on a 9-5 run to take a 40-19 lead early in the third quarter. From there, the Cougars put the offense on cruise control en route to winning their fourth straight.
Annie Briglia led the Eagles with eight points. Ciara Forde and Rachel Parker each finished with five points.
It was a statement win for Downingtown East against an unbeaten Shanahan (1-1, 3-1) team that came into the season as a contender for the division title. Now, the Cougars have established themselves as a front-runner to win the National.
Schnure and Johns put things into perspective.
"This division is a tough one and there are plenty of good teams,' Schnure said. "We just want to keep trying to build on the last game and work on our overall teamwork as the season progresses.'
"We can handle the pressure of these games,' Johns said. "We're coming out strong and proving ourselves every game considering we're a young team. I feel we're still an underdog.'
Downingtown East 57
Bishop Shanahan 35
BISHOP SHANAHAN: Briglia 4 0-0 8, Forde 2 0-0 5, Parker 0 5-6 5, Powers 1 2-2 4, Dreiling 2 0-1 4, Juliana 1 0-0 3, Wirshup 1 0-2 2, Phillips 0 2-2 2, Habbel 1 0-1 2. Totals: 12 9-14 35.
DOWNINGTOWN EAST: Warfel 4 14-20 22, Van Eyken 5 1-2 11, Kent 3 1-1 7, Aungst 2 2-4 6, Johns 2 0-0 5, Ochsner 2 0-1 4, Riley 1 0-1 2. Totals: 19 18-29 57.
Bishop Shanahan 2 12 11 11 - 35
Downingtown East 21 12 13 11 - 57
3-point goals: Juliana, Forde, Johns.