NORTH MANCHESTER — The Tri-Fecta Club is alive and well.
The Wawasee Warrior boys basketball team provided a heavy dose of long range shots Friday night in Manchester, hitting 12 three-pointers to top the Squires 75-60.
The fast pace, run and gun offense has made its way back to center stage for the Wawasee team and while very effective Friday night, it was a change of pace that helped seal a road victory for the young squad.
After watching nearly three and a half quarters of both teams running up and down the court without much of a break between change in possession, fans were given something different to watch midway through the fourth quarter. With 5:02 left to play and a 64-53 lead, the Warrior offense slowed things down, way down.
In an offensive strategy reminiscent of the 1952 Milan Indians, Wawasee managed to move the ball around on the Squire defense for a staggering 2:04 before finally ending the possession on an Alex Clark lay-up. The conservative possession gave Wawasee all the momentum it would need to hold off a determined Manchester team from any comeback attempt and wrap up win number two on the season.
Wawasee head coach Phil Mishler talked about why that fourth quarter possession was so crucial to his team’s success in a post-game interview.
“In our system you can blow a lead pretty fast and you need to learn to protect it, especially when you don’t have enough time to come back,” Mishler said. “So I thought our young guys did a nice job on figuring that out without much practice, I was real impressed with that.”
Outside of that one possession, it was more of the same from the Wawasee ballers. Tough, physical, and fast gameplay that gives opponents all they can handle.
The Warriors got into a groove in the first quarter and were able to set the tone for the rest of the game. Manchester grabbed its first and only lead of the night on a two-point jumper from Lucas Schilling but soon lost the momentum when Wawasee’s Ryndan Aaron hit a three to silence the raucous student section. Wawasee would end up hitting six three-point shots in the first quarter and led 20-15 after one.
The Squires tried to keep up with the Warriors but would never get closer than a seven point margin for the remainder of the game, due in part to 10 missed free throws and a whopping 19 turnovers.
Those two stat lines gave Squire head coach Eric Thompson all the talking points he needed after the game.
“The 10 free throws, right there is a huge difference in the ball game,” coach Thompson stated.
The coach would later continue, “We had 19 turnovers, you can’t win when you do that. Some of those Wawasee was able to turn into points and that hurt us.” The reference was in response to the 12 points the Warriors scored off of Squire turnovers. Six of those points came off of inbound plays in which Wawasee was able to steal the pass and get an easy lay-up.
Outside of his frustration from his team’s mental mistakes, Thompson was sure to give Mishler and his team credit for their Friday night efforts.
“Give Wawasee credit, they were making the right decisions most of the time during the game. Coach Mishler does a great job; they are quite a club after having so many injuries. He has done a fantastic job with his program to not only compete but to win games with his bench.”
Thompson and Manchester (0-3) will go back to the drawing board as they prepare to do battle at home with Churubusco on December 11th.
Ryndan finished with 15 points and seven boards while Alex Clark led the Warriors with 17 points and Chase Myers poured in a career-high 16 points on the strength of four three-pointers. Gage Reinhard added eight assists and four steals. Clayton Petrie led the Squires with 22 points.
After the game, coach Mishler expressed his satisfaction from his team’s win, “This is just a good win for us. We needed a win and I thought that our guys hit some big shots and stayed with rebounding, it was just the free throws tonight.” Mishler’s team also fared poorly tonight with free throws going just 17-27.
The question on every Warrior fan’s mind though was about Wawasee senior Jake Thompson who suffered an injury last week in a loss to Angola. Coach provided a little input with that as well, “He’s going in December 5th for an MRI and we will know more after that. It was a pretty severe injury, we are hoping for the best but we also know that we have to accept whatever happens.”
The Wawasee Junior Varsity team fell 41-33 to Manchester’s JV squad Friday night. Bailey Hershberger led Wawasee in scoring with 11 points.
Wawasee improves to 2-1 on the season and will face a familiar face tomorrow when former Wawasee assistant coach Jim Best comes to Syracuse with his West Noble Charger basketball team.
Wawasee topped West Noble (2-0) in a regular season match-up last season 82-65 in Ligonier but it was the Chargers who had the last laugh when they beat the Warriors 53-39 in a sectional semi-final game in Nappanee later that season. Varsity tip-off is set for approximately 7:30 p.m. at Wawasee High School.