Warfel nets 1,000th point as D-East uses fourth quarter rally to beat W.C. Rustin and earn trip to states

WESTTOWN — For all Paige Warfel has accomplished over her three years at Downingtown East, it will be hard to top the game she had against West Chester Rustin.

Plenty was at stake for Warfel on a team and individual level as a win would send the Cougars into the state playoffs while 19 points would put the junior over 1,000 for her career.

Warfel got both, but was more focused on the latter.

“It was awesome,’ Warfel said. “We knew we had to step up and that’s exactly what we did. That was our team goal all year to get to states. We all wanted to go and we did it.’

Warfel capped her memorable night in leading Downingtown East with 21 points as the Cougars rallied from a fourth quarter deficit to defeat West Chester Rustin 54-49 in a District 1 Class AAAA second-round game Tuesday night.

The win sends Downingtown East (20-6) to the PIAA Class AAAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 as the Cougars defeated Rustin for the second time in 11 days. East will travel to No. 3 Mount St. Joseph’s, a 63-43 winner over No. 19 Radnor, in the quarterfinals Saturday.

The Golden Knights (18-6) fall into the playback bracket to qualify for the state playoffs. Rustin will host Radnor Saturday and needs two wins to get into the PIAA tournament.

Warfel’s milestone couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for East as the Cougars trailed throughout the first 23 minutes after falling behind 7-0 to start the game.

East rallied to take its first lead at 35-34 with 55.2 seconds left in the third after a Warfel layup, but Courtney Warley responded on the other end with a layup of her own to give the Golden Knights a 37-36 lead heading into the fourth.

Warfel used sheer determination to help East overcome Rustin in the fourth quarter. She gave the Couagrs the lead back after a layup in the post put East up 38-37.

Noelle Powell responded to put Rustin back ahead with a steal in the East backcourt which led to a 3-pointer that gave the Golden Knights a 40-38 lead.

Powell reached a milestone of her own earlier in the contest, becoming the first player in Rustin history to score 1,500 points with a layup off a fast break in the second quarter. She hit nine field goals and finished with a game-high 23 for the night.

After Rustin made it 41-40, the stage was set for Warfel, who earned a trip to the line with 998 career points.

If getting 1,000 wasn’t enough pressure, making both free throws would give East the lead with 4:34 to go.

As Warfel has done throughout the season in crunch time, she hit both free throws, putting East up 42-41 and becoming the fourth Downingtown East player to eclipse the 1,000-point mark and first since Kristen Blye in 2009.

“It was just like any other point to me,’ Warfel said. “To get it in such a big game was awesome. The past week I’ve been working on foul shots, because that’s been my weakest point all year. I think it paid off tonight.’

After Warfel was recognized for the accompishment, Rustin come out of the timeout firing with back-to-back layups from Powell and Courtney Warley to give the Golden Knights a 45-42 lead with 4:06 left.

On East’s next possession, Kaelyn Johns hit the biggest 3-pointer of the night to tie the game 45-45 with 3:41 to go.

Down the stretch, Laura Ochsner provided the offense to give East the lead for good. Ochsner hit two free throws to put the Couagrs up 47-45 with 2:44 remaining.

On East’s next possession, Oschner hit a layup after grabbing a rebound off her own miss to put the Cougars up 49-46 with 1:40 to play. With Rustin needing a 3-pointer to tie, Lexi Zavitsky drove the lane and was fouled with under a minute left.

Zavitsky missed both free throws as Ochsner grabbed the rebound and was fouled. She hit both free throws to give East a commanding 51-46 lead with 42.4 to go.

Ochsner was huge for East in the fourth quarter, scoring six of her 10 points, including 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

“Those were beautiful foul shots,’ said Downingtown East head coach Bob Schnure with a smile. “She made them no doubt about it. No rolling around or anything. She made some huge shots for us at the end and did a really great job.’

“I just did what I had to do for the team,’ Ochsner said. “Everyone else was playing well, so I wanted to join in.’

East received plenty of scoring help to compliment Warfel as Aryah Aungst finished with 13 points, 10 of which came in the first half. Aungst’s play kept the Cougars within striking distance.

“Their zone left me open a lot,’ Aungst said. “I tried to take as many open shots as I could. Anything to help the team.’

Powell kept Rustin in the game until the very end, hitting a 3-pointer with 30.4 to go to keep the Golden Knights within one possession at 51-49.

East hit both free throws to make it 53-49 with 17 seconds to go. On Rustin’s next possession, Emily Walls forced a 3-pointer that hit the backboard. Warfel grabbed the rebound and tossed in to Lindsay Kent with three seconds left, sealing the win for the Couagrs.

Earlier this month, Downingtown East ended Rustin’s 40-game Ches-Mont League winning streak in one of the biggest wins of the season. The Cougars backed up that win by defeating Rustin on its home court with a state playoff berth on the line.

“This is just amazing,’ Aungst said. “Beating Rustin twice after they won 40 straight Ches-Mont games and we’re going to states after this one. That’s a great accomplishment for us.’

“That was two good teams out there making shots in a really good game,’ Schnure said. “It’s great to be back in states. It really is fun and a bonus as a coach.’

Warfel had plenty to celebrate once the game was over on accomplishing two milestones with East. She just wasn’t sure how she was going to after the game.

“I don’t know,’ Warfel said with a laugh. “Let me get back to you on that.’

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