SYRACUSE — Wawasee kept chuckin’ the ball and eventually put away Fairfield.
Hoisting a dizzying 50 three-point shots, Wawasee nailed 15 of them and several came at key moments of a 80-61 boys basketball win by the Warriors in the season opener for both clubs.
The new school Warriors were alive and well opening the system employed for the past half decade, shooting the ball from behind the arc at a fever pitch that Fairfield eventually could not contend. The three ball came in handy as a scrappy Fairfield side wouldn’t go lightly, but could not keep up the pace.
Wawasee used the long ball plus a smothering defensive effort that forced 27 Fairfield turnovers. At 6:37 in the third quarter following a fourth foul by Wawasee’s Chase Myers, Brad Lantz hit a pair of free throws to cut the Wawasee lead to 38-31. But a 10-0 run by the Warriors, which started with a Jake Hutchinson three and capped by a layup from Jake Thompson, moved Wawasee back up 17.
Fairfield held its ground and found itself trailing by just eight with 6:28 to go in the fourth quarter, but a trio of turnovers allowed Wawasee to drain three threes and put the game out of reach.
“It goes from eight to 17 in a hurry,” said Fairfield head coach Troy Beachy. “I kept telling the guys just hang around, you never know what can happen. One thing goes, we make a shot and they don’t hit a three and its down to six. You never know from there. The way they play, they spurt so fast. At the end of the day, you take care of the basketball, you give yourself a chance. You don’t, you know how that goes.”
Alex Clark and Ryndan Aaron both hit four bombs, Clark finishing with a game-high 19 points and Aaron 13 points. Clark added five rebounds and four steals. Stori Bright added 10 points and six rebounds.
Thompson was just 6-17 from the floor and missed all seven of his three-point attempts in his return from a torn right labrum suffered last December. The senior still scored 14 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. The attention paid by Fairfield to Thompson, however, was just as important as the statistics.
“The reason why the other kids were making shots is because (Jake) is able to recognize the floor,” said Wawasee head coach Phil Mishler, mentioning double and triple teams left plenty of other Warriors open. “He wasn’t scoring, but he was getting the ball where it needed to be.”
Lantz concluded his night with 17 points and five boards while Garrett Scott netted 15 points and Marcus Rodes 13 points for the Falcons.
Fairfield were just 3-8 from three-point range and committed 20 more turnovers than Wawasee had on the night.
“I thought we played hard and did what we were capable of doing,” Mishler said. “For the most part, I was happy with how hard they played for so many young ones, some coming from eighth grade, some never playing a varsity or JV game. I was happy with that intensity they were able to put out there.”
Josh Stephens led all scorers with 16 points in the JV game to lead his Falcons past Wawasee, 41-35, in the night’s opener. Jake Blackburn added nine points and seven boards for Fairfield while Aaron Voirol paced Wawasee with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Wawasee (1-0) will travel to Angola Saturday night while Fairfield (0-1) will host Prairie Heights on Nov. 30.