WARSAW – Expectations around the Warsaw girls basketball program are very high for the 2012-13 campaign.
The Tigers left little doubt as to why that is in an impressive season opener Saturday night.
A veteran Warsaw team led from start to finish in handling Huntington North easily 64-42 in the Tiger Den.
Senior Jennifer Walker-Crawford tossed in a career-high 21 points, standout Lindsay Baker netted 14 and Nikki Grose canned 13 to lead a strong showing by the Tigers.
Warsaw, which finished 16-5 a year ago, opened the contest with a 6-0 lead. The hosts used a key 11-0 run in the first quarter, sparked by its pressure defense and easy baskets off fine passing in transition off turnovers, en route to a 20-9 lead after the opening period. Walker-Crawford, a smooth 6-1 inside-outside threat, poured in 10 points and 6-0 post player Grose added six in the first stanza.
“I liked how we came out ready to go tonight,” said Warsaw coach Michelle Harter. “We attacked the basket well and got to the line. I was a little concerned with the JV game going overtime. But, the nice thing with a veteran team is that the girls were able to refocus and come out strong.
“I was pleased with their effort. They know what we wanted them to do and for the most part they did it tonight. They are all on the same page.”
The Vikings, who were 6-15 last season, opened the second period with a 5-0 run to pull within 20-14. That was as close as the guests would get as the Tigers after a timeout by Harter answered with a 7-0 run to make it 27-14. Baker, an Indiana All-Star candidate, scored five in the pivotal stretch, including one of her three 3-pointers on the night.
Warsaw, which checked in at No. 12 in the Class 4-A preseason poll earlier this week, put the game away for good with a strong third quarter effort. Walker-Crawford scored seven in the frame as the Tigers opened the third period with a dominating 15-2 run to built their largest lead of the contest at 47-20.
“I like how in the third quarter we upped our intensity on defense,” Harter said. “We adjusted some things on our press and then we slowed down on offense and pounded the ball inside.”
Walker-Crawford, who averaged about seven points-per-game last season, hit 7-of-14 shots from the field, was a perfect 6-of-6 from the line and grabbed a game-high seven rebounds in her career night. The talented, versatile senior has verbally committed to play at Kentucky Wesleyan College, an NCAA Division II program in Owensboro.
“We knew she had this in her,” said Harter of Walker-Crawford’s big performance. “She relaxed and let the game come to her tonight. Her playing like this helps us in that Lindsay can relax and it opens up things for her and for Nikki too. Last year was a big learning experience for Jennifer.”
Baker, who has committed to play at Toledo next year, also had five rebounds and six assists.
Senior guard Allyson Trout netted 15 points, including draining three triples, to lead Huntington North. Kayla Patrick, also a senior guard, had 13 points for the Vikings.
Warsaw shot a crisp 22-of-39 from the field, including a fine 12-of-19 in the second half. Huntington North was just 14-of-37 from the field, including 5-of-15 from 3-point land.
Courtney Farling netted a game-high 15 points as the Warsaw junior varsity team edged Huntington North 35-32 in overtime. Farling gave her team a 30-28 lead with a bucket with 16 seconds to play in regulation before a rebound basket at the final horn by North’s Madi Canady sent the game into overtime.
Megan Kratzsch scored eight points and Vicki Harris and Jodie Carlson each added six for Warsaw in the JV win. Canady led the JV Vikings with eight points.
Warsaw also won the freshman game Saturday night by edging Huntington North 20-19. Haley Peterson scored seven points and Tahya Bruce five to lead the Tigers.
Warsaw hosts Fort Wayne Luers (0-2) Tuesday night and entertains Tippecanoe Valley (1-0) Friday evening.