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Hershey holds off Warwick in district quarterfinals

Hershey holds off Warwick in district quarterfinals

Written by: TJ Eck on February 22, 2024


Warwick had a big task on its hands Thursday night. Both literally and figuratively.

The No. 9 seed Warriors were on the road, trying to take down top-seeded Hershey in the quarterfinals of the PIAA District 3 Class AAAAA tournament. 

In doing so, they were tasked with trying to shut down six-foot-six, 270-pound Hershey senior forward Isaiah Danner. Warwick put together a valiant effort but came up short in a 62-58 loss at Hershey High School.

“He’s huge,” said Warwick head coach Chris Christensen, when discussing Danner postgame. “He plays hard. He’s a basketball player. He’s an athlete.”

Christensen continued: “Big doesn’t always mean good…but that big was good.”

Danner scored 17 points and hauled in 14 rebounds in the victory. Warwick’s Trevor Evans and Cody Ryan, the players enlisted to guard Danner, both fouled out.

“We did come in and say we need to give him touches,” said Hershey head coach Paul Blackburn. “He doesn’t have to shoot it every time he touches it but we have to see how the defense reacts to him.”

Danner’s biggest bucket of the night came with under a minute to play. With Hershey clinging to a one-point lead, the ball ended up in Danner’s hands down low and he scored while getting fouled. He missed the free throw but his basket gave the home team a 61-58 lead.

Warwick would have a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but the Warriors committed a turnover as Hershey’s Derek Guzman came away with the steal. Guzman was fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws to clinch the victory. The Trojans shot 28 free throws on the evening while Warwick managed just ten foul shot attempts. 

“I thought we played hard,” said Christensen. “I thought the guys were ready to play. I thought we, offensively, did pretty well…it was a possession difference.”

Junior forward Caleb Johnsen led the Warwick attack.  He drilled two clutch three-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep Warriors in the game while finishing the night with 18 points.

“My main goal is just to hit open shots when I get them and then get to the rack as much as I can,” said Johnsen.

Senior point guard Tyree Hughes scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in the loss while Evans added nine points off the bench. Sophomore forward Ya’Majesty Washington tallied eight points and five boards.

Warwick will now play a consolation semifinal game at Manheim Central next Monday. The Warriors and Barons have both clinched berths in the PIAA Class 5A state tournament and have two more games remaining in the district tournament.

“Last year, these two (state) play-in games, we didn’t necessarily show up that week,” said Christensen. “We’re just gonna focus on getting ourselves ready to play this week and put ourselves in a little bit better position in states than we did last year.”

Johnsen added: “Last year we came out these two consolation games and we did not play good basketball. We did not play our best games. That’s gonna be different this year…everyone is gonna come out and play their hearts out and we are going to get after it these two games.” 

Hershey was led in scoring Thursday night by Guzman, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds. Cameron Sweeney (13 points) and Logan Richards (12 points) also scored in double-figures. The Trojans advance to the district semifinals where they will welcome Greencastle-Antrim to Hershey H.S. next Monday night. Hershey recently defeated G-A in the semifinals of the Mid-Penn Conference Tournament.

“We have been there the last two years and lost heart-breakers,” said Blackburn. “We get to host this one…I guarantee (Greencastle-Antrim) will put their best foot forward here. They are very excited to come to Hershey, I guarantee you they very much wanna come beat us and they’re gonna play a great basketball game.”

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