DUNLAP – There were only a few numbers that Lindsay Baker really cared about Saturday night.
Those being 52-21 as in the final score in favor of her Warsaw girls basketball team over host Concord and 17-0 as in the perfect record for the Tigers.
Only fitting for a senior star whose worth to her Class 4-A No. 10 team goes far beyond any numbers on a final stat sheet could ever measure.
Hard-working junior center Nikki Grose turned in a huge game Saturday night with 20 points and 12 rebounds, senior standout Jennifer Walker-Crawford scored 12 points and steady senior Sarah Ray nine as the Tigers rolled to another convincing Northern Lakes Conference win.
Baker, for the record, scored six points to push her career total past to 802. The individual numbers, however, matter little to the 5-11 guard and Indiana All-Star candidate.
“I didn’t know,” responded Baker when asked about topping 800 career points. “For me, it’s more about our team and what we’re trying to do. It’s nice to hit a milestone like that and a pat on the back for me, but I’d so much rather win. I’d much rather score five points and we win by 35 than score 35 and we lose.”
Baker, who has signed to play at the University of Toledo next season, went over 800 points late in the opening quarter Saturday night as she banked in a bucket in transition off a Concord turnover. She struggled with her shot by going 2-of-10 from the field, including 1-of-7 from distance, but as usual did plenty of things well. Baker finished with six rebounds and four assists.
Baker, one of three senior starters for the undefeated Tigers, brings a sense of confidence that is contagious to her team.
“The thing I’ve loved about Lindsay from day one of her freshman year is her confidence she brings,” said Warsaw coach Michelle Harter. “She’s a natural leader and has really blossomed as a senior.”
Baker, for her part, has a big belief in her team. The Tigers, who improved to 5-0 in NLC action, are bidding to become the first Warsaw girls team to post an undefeated regular season record since the 1989-90 team went 20-0. The Tigers play at Elkhart Memorial Tuesday and at NorthWood next Saturday in the final two NLC games before hosting South Bend Riley Jan. 31.
“All of us on this team thought we could be 17-0,” said Baker confidently, but not cocky. “We said this is our year to win so this is not a surprise to us. As a team, we embraced that we could do this. We wanted to make a statement and bring Warsaw girls basketball back on the map.
“The goal for us is to go undefeated. Winning the NLC is the first step and to run the table in our conference would be a huge deal. That’s our first focus. It’s important that we come out and play our game and focus on being the best we can be, not on who we are playing. Anything is possible for this team if we come out each game with fire and play to our ability.”
The Tigers definitely played to their ability Saturday night once again. Concord, which drops to 6-12 overall and 0-5 in the NLC, led once at 3-0 on a trey by Anna Heck nine seconds into the game. Warsaw answered with a 14-0 run, nine of those points coming after Harter took an early timeout.
Warsaw led 14-5 after the opening period and used an 11-0 run to start the second stanza to make it 25-5. The Tigers had complete control of the contest by halftime with a 29-10 lead as Grose and Walker-Crawford each had 10 points and Concord had committed 13 turnovers.
“I didn’t feel we were very focused at the start,” said Harter of her timeout just over three minutes into the game. “But, I thought the girls responded very well after that. They picked up their defensive intensity and didn’t settle for shots. Our whole game is kick it in and kick it out and they did that well tonight.
“Nikki finished tonight the way she is capable of and she also stepped up and hit her free throws. We need to have her play strong inside for us like she did tonight.”
Grose was 8-of-10 from the field and 4-of-6 from the line in her outstanding performance. The Tigers out rebounded Concord, which has lost nine of its last 10 games, 36-17. The hosts shot just 8-of-31 from the field, while Warsaw was 21-of-49.
Harter, now 73-29 in her fifth season as head coach, is not surprised either where her team sits.
“I knew this group could be a very special group this year,” said Harter, whose team finished 16-5 last season. “A lot of it is because of the senior leadership we have. These girls respond to each other. They are unselfish and they really do like to see each other succeed.
“I really believe if we play our game and that’s the key we can win two more NLC games. We have to play with poise, come out with focus and defensive intensity.”
Senior Heck scored nine points to pace Concord, which lost 55-18 to Warsaw last season. Jade Iavagnilio netted six points for first-year coach Dan Ross’ squad.
Warsaw leads the NLC standings at 5-0. Plymouth sits in second at 4-1, followed by Memorial, NorthWood and Northridge all at 3-2, Goshen at 2-3 and Concord and Wawasee each at 0-5.
The Tigers took the junior varsity game by a 40-15 final Saturday night. Courtney Farling scored 11 points and Megan Kratzsch eight for the Tigers. Jenna Makin led Concord with six points.
Warsaw plays at Elkhart Memorial and Concord travels to Penn Tuesday night.