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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Regina defeats Warren Woods-Tower in district opener

Emily Davis scores 20 for Saddlelites

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Everyone on Regina's basketball team had to step up Monday night, and no one stepped higher than Emily Davis.

Davis scored 20 points, all in the first half, and the Saddlelites turned in their typically strong state tournament performance to beat host Warren Woods-Tower 67-36 in the first round of Division 1 district play.

Regina played without all-Catholic selection Becca Sabol, who missed the game because of illness.

"Becca was sick. I had been having a good week in practice," Davis said. "The state tournament's starting so it's a good time to get off to a good start -- a new start. I just decided to go out there and go hard -- like now, because this is the time."

Davis and Erin Nelson, the two juniors Regina will be counting on next year when Sabol graduates, didn't waste any time letting everyone know that just because the Saddlelites ended the season with a losing record (6-13), they could be a force in the state tournament.

Five seconds into the game, Davis scored on a layup off a perfect pass from Kara Agby and Regina was off and running.

Davis had 12 points in the first quarter and Nelson scored seven to help the Saddlelites built a 25-10 lead at the end of the quarter. By halftime, Regina's lead was 41-19 and Davis and Nelson were done for the night.

"We told everyone they had to step up tonight because Becca wasn't going to play." said coach Diane Laffey. "Erin stepped up. Emily really stepped up. She had a great half. She's played well all year. She's never scored that many points in a half, but she has played very well.

"We talked at halftime. Do we want to put her back in? We didn't want to take a chance. We definitely didn't want Emily or Erin getting hurt so neither one went back in ."

Regina did fine without them in the second half. The Saddlelites' improved defense held Warren Woods-Tower to only two points in the third quarter -- a putback by Sarah Mertz.

Davis said that a long tournament run could help erase the disappointment of a season that began with high hopes.

"We were looking forward to this season because Becca was coming back and Kara was coming back," she said. "We were raring to go, but we had some tough losses.

"Now everyone's 0-0 -- actually we're 1-0 now -- and everyone's putting forth their best effort because we don't want the season to end."

The competition in the Catholic League Central Division has Regina playing its best basketball at the end of the year.

"What we play all year gets us ready for this," Laffey said. "You hope they're going to play well and they did tonight. A lot of kids got a chance to play and they don't often get that in our league."

Laffey said the Saddlelites' biggest improvement since the start of the season has been on defense.

"We've really picked up our defense," she said. "You get a lot of points when you play defense and that's what we've been trying to do. We weren't getting those transition baskets early in the year."

Titans coach Patty Weidman-Pemberton graduates only three players and she would like to see her returning group play with the instincts of a Regina, which jumped into the passing lanes to steal the ball several times.

"We struggled a lot this year," she said. "We need to get out and play more basketball in the offseason. That's where you learn the IQ of the game. With us, everything is so mechanical and thought out. It's not instinctive. I have some promising freshmen that played JV. You can tell they understand the game by seeing their positioning on defense. I don't know if they've played more or they just have it."

Sarah Homic, one of the returning juniors, led WWT with 14 points, including four 3-point baskets. Senior Alison Browning led the Titans with seven rebounds and Vicki Guzowski, another senior, pulled down six.

Davis and Nelson were Regina's only double-figure scorers. Nicole Ratusznik added nine points. Brooke Becksvoort led the Saddlelites with eight rebounds and Marissa Lesch grabbed six.

Warren Woods-Tower finished 6-15.

"In a season that we didn't experience a lot of winning, I enjoyed coming to practice every day," Weidman-Pemberton said. "That says a lot about them as people and their character.

"I think they can do what I'm asking of them. I try to keep my expectations realistic. They're just having trouble turning that corner. Maybe by playing more, we'll see some improvement."

Regina plays Warren-Mott at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Warren Woods-Tower.

Regina 25 16 13 13--67

Warren Woods-Tower 10 9 2 15--36

Regina (7-14): Erin Nelson 11, Christine Palazzolo 2, Emily Davis 20, Myranda Martin 5, Emily Patterson 4, Gabrielle Buscemi 3, Breona Wilson 4, Nicole Ratusznik 9, Brooke Becksvoort 3, Amanda Blok 4, Teresa Diehl 2. Totals: 24 (5) 14-19--67.

Warren Woods-Tower (6-15): Sarah Homic 14, Sydney Homic 3, Alison Browning 6, Ashley Wilson 4, Kayla Dempsey 4, Sarah Mertz 4, Lauren Browning 1. Totals: 11 (5) 9-17--36.

Last Updated: 2/26/2013 7:38:24 AM EST