The upstart Warriors ruined Lebanon's home opener on Wednesday night, riding Rylee Derr's 20 points to an eight-point win and a 3-0 start in Section One.
The Lebanon High girls basketball team is used to knocking heads with Section One heavyweights in crossover play. It's simply part of the deal for Section Two residents like the two-time defending champion Cedars.
But Lebanon usually expects to have any splitting migraines inflicted by traditional Section One powers like Cedar Crest, McCaskey and Hempfield.
But not necessarily Warwick. At least not until Wednesday night.
A better-than-you-think Warriors squad looked like a potential contender in always powerful Section One on Wednesday, riding a balanced effort led by 20 points from Rylee Derr to a 50-42 victory over Lebanon on the Cedars' home floor.
Now 4-3 overall and 3-0 in the section, Warwick finds itself in an unfamiliar first-place tie in the early stages of the Section One title race, while Lebanon concluded the first stage of crossover play at 3-2 overall and 2-1 in Section Two.
"I was very impressed," said Lebanon coach Ben Brewer, whose squad was led by sophomore sensation Alexis Hill's 19 points, of Warwick. "They were definitely the better basketball team on the court tonight. I thought they executed much better, and they defended well. (Head coach Janelle) Garber is doing a great job there. That's awesome."
Garber, a former standout at Elizabethtown High School and West Chester University and one-time Lebanon Valley women's assistant, and her team certainly agreed with Brewer's assessment of their strong start in league play, which on Wednesday night included a defining 10-4 run to close the first half that gave it the lead for good.
"That's really exciting," she said. "They're working hard and getting better every single day. Things we're not doing well they're minimizing them every single day. They're staying together and working hard. It's a big win for us. We're excited."
Meanwhile, the Cedars could only shake their heads at a missed opportunity to jump to a 3-0 start in their quest to three-peat in Section Two.
Though it did get typical hustle and production from Hill and nice efforts from guards Morgan Truax (10 points) and Maddy Hartman (nine points, two 3-pointers), Lebanon never found its best form on this night, even after a Truax bucket with 3:57 left in the half produced a 20-17 lead for the home team.
"We were right where we needed to be," Brewer said of his club's own start to section play. "Unfortunately, we came out tonight in our first home game, and whether it was jitters or what, from the tip we didn't have energy or focus. And we were slow. We looked tired. There was no bounce. We were slow pushing the ball and we were slow getting back (on defense)."
Warwick, though, had a lot to do with the Cedars' difficulties. Derr was dynamite en route to her game-high 20 points, and guards Rene Ross and Kasie Sheaffer also performed well while tallying seven points apiece.
And defensively, Derr, Katie Hipple, Jamie Kolp and Samantha Earle took turns collapsing on Hill down low, making Lebanon's go-to girl work quite hard for her points.
The overall performance was even more impressive when one considers the Warriors were without second-leading scorer Kate Martin due to illness.
"They stayed calm throughout the game," Garber said of her squad. "It was a rough game, it was a physical game, and they embraced it and played hard. Everybody stepped up, and that's what's exciting about our team. Everybody can play."
Warwick 50, Lebanon 42
Hipple 3 0-0 6, Sheaffer 3 0-0 7, Derr 5 9-10 20, Earle 2 0-2 4, Ross 3 0-3 7, Kolp 3 0-0 6 Totals — .19 9-15 50.
Hartman 3 1-2 9, Hill 8 1-5 17, Houser 0 3-4 3, Truax 5 0-2 10, Turner 1 0-0 3, Ortolazo 0 0-0 0, Duefel 0 0-0 0. Totals — .17 5-13 42
Warwick_ 15 _ 12 _ 12 _ 11 _ — _ 50
Lebanon _ 10 _ 14 _ 7 _ 11 _ — _ 42
3-point goals — W: Sheaffer, Derr, Ross, L: Hartman 2, Turner
JV score — Warwick 24, Lebanon 19