WARSAW – The Elkhart Memorial boys basketball team really got dialed in from long distance in the second half Friday night versus Warsaw.
That connection from beyond the three-point line proved to be just the formula for a win as the Crimson Chargers rallied to stun the Tigers 48-47 in Northern Lakes Conference action.
Memorial, led by smooth outside operators James Hershberger and Dimitri Giger, hit 7-of-11 tries from 3-point range in the final half to erase a 14-point deficit.
Giger, a 6-3 sophomore, proved to be the hero for the Chargers, who outscored Warsaw 16-9 in the final period. He scored eight of his 10 points in the final quarter, including his second trey of the stanza with 1:12 left for the final points of the contest. Giger, who was 2-of-2 from deep, entered play Friday night just 4-of-13 from distance through Memorial’s first 15 games.
Hershberger, a senior guard, hit 5-of-8 from long range to finsh with a team-high 21 points for Memorial.
The Chargers won despite the fact that standout Markese McGuire scored just five points on 1-of-14 shooting from the field. The 6-2 senior guard, who has signed to play at the University of Illinois-Chicago, was averaging 23.2 points-per-game coming into play Friday night.
Jared Bloom poured in a game-high 24 points for Warsaw, which drops to 9-7 overall and 3-3 in the NLC. Taylor Cone had a strong game with 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Tigers.
Memorial, which improves to 7-9 overall and 3-3 in the NLC, hit 9-of-21 overall from 3-point land in the win. The Chargers, who beat Warsaw twice in last year’s 24-2 season which ended in the semi state, entered play Friday night 82-of-279 on trey tries on the season.
Warsaw, which led 31-17 at the 5:40 mark of the third quarter, still had a chance to win after Memorial’s Hershberger missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 14.8 seconds left. The Tigers then took a timeout with 9.2 seconds to play and Jordan Stookey misfired on a short baseline shot, but John Swanson grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled trying to put it back in. Swanson missed the first of the two-shot foul with 3.2 seconds to play and Memorial called timeout. Swanson then missed the second free throw attempt and in a scramble on the floor for the loose ball the game ended.
“Give Memorial credit,” said Warsaw coach Doug Ogle, obviously disappointed with the tough loss. “They made shots. They shot really well on threes especially in the second half. I’ve never seen them make threes like that in the 5-6 games I saw on tape or in person, but give them credit tonight.
“Hershberger was good. He got it going. The two Giger hit in the fourth quarter came out of nowhere. It was a lot of little things that hurt us tonight. We were not good offensively in the second half. We had 3-4 possessions where we were not poised and Memorial was a better rebounding team than us tonight. We just didn’t play well enough to overcome their threes.
“The kids are disappointed. But, we have to keep going and move on. We have four games left now to get ready for the sectional. That’s what our focus has to be.”
Warsaw, which had beaten Memorial in five of the last six games in the Tiger Den, led 13-9 after the opening quarter Friday night. The Tigers were up 26-17 at halftime as Bloom had 14 points, including nine in the second quarter, and Cone had 10. McGuire was 0-of-9 from the field in the opening half as Memorial shot just 5-of-19 as a team.
The Tigers opened the second half with the first five points to make it 31-17 on a bucket by Nate Pearl at the 5:40 mark. Memorial got going on a baseline trey by Hershberger that ignited a 15-7 run to close the quarter and cut the Tiger lead to 38-32. Hershberger, who is 17-of-62 on the season from 3-point range, scored 13 points in the third period with three triples.
Memorial got its first bucket and the only one of the night from McGuire on a trey with 2:32 to play in the final period. The triple cut the Warsaw lead to 46-45. The Tigers made it 47-45 as Swanson hit the first of two free throws with 1:19 left before Giger drained what would be the game winner on his trey with 1:12 left in the contest.
“It got contagious in the second half and we made a bunch of threes,” said Memorial coach Mark Barnhizer of the stunning comeback by his squad. “James was good tonight. He got his feet set on his shots.
“A lot of it was they were keying on Markese so much. Our other guys had shots and they made them. Markese had the worst game of his career from a shooting standpoint, but he was able to drib be penetrate and kick it out. It was a combination tonight. Doug had a great game plan to guard Markese and he just did not have a very good game shooting it.
“It was good to see others step up like they did tonight. I thought in the second half we took advantage of our quickness and went after them and attacked. We played really well in the second half. The guys fought hard and battled and that says a lot about their character. This should give them confidence and hopefully this is something we can build from.”
Memorial, which won for just the third time in its last 10 games, shot a strong 11-of-20 overall from the field in the final half. The Chargers also finished the game with a 31-23 rebounding edge as McGuire grabbed 10 to go with six assists. Warsaw had just seven turnovers in the contest.
The Chargers took the junior varsity contest by a 34-30 count. Jon Bailey scored 11 points and Austin Miller nine for the winners. Nick Sands netted 12 points and Cody Freeman nine to lead the Tigers.
Warsaw plays at Plymouth and Memorial hosts NorthWood in NLC games Thursday night.