SYRACUSE — It was another rough night on the hardwood for Wawasee on Saturday. The boys dropped to 0-6 in Northern Lakes Conference play after losing 63-31 to the visiting Northridge Raiders.
The first quarter told the story of the game. The young Warrior defense played well on the defensive side of the ball but could not help themselves on offense. Amidst Wawasee’s offensive struggles, the Raiders slowly built up a 9-0 lead. Warrior sophomore Alex Clark finally got his team on the board with a jumper around the four minute mark in the first quarter. Unfortunately, that would be Wawasee’s only points in the quarter as the Raiders closed the quarter on another 9-0 run to lead 18-2 after one. Clark would end up leading all Warrior scorers on the night with 11 points.
Warrior head coach Phil Mishler attributed the first quarter struggles to his team getting down on themselves.
“We cannot allow a make or a miss to dictate how hard we play the game. We didn’t shoot the ball well at all but we had a defensive plan and in the first quarter we played that well. We executed that about as well as we have executed anything all year,” stated Mishler.
Mishler was not the only one to notice the Warriors great defensive effort Saturday night. Raider head coach Ronnie Thomas said the Warrior defense created problems for his team most of the night.
“They gave us a lot of pressure most of the night,” Thomas stated. “We were just able to adjust to what they were doing to Nate (Ritchie) and knock some shots down. We also had a lot of patience on offense tonight which helped.”
Ritchie, a junior, is one of the Raiders regular offensive weapons but he was held to just nine points by the Warriors on Saturday, with just two coming in the second half. But Saturday night’s win was a team effort for the Raiders. Northridge had three players with double-digits on the night. Sophomore Pete Smith and junior Sam Ahonen led all scorers with 12 points each.
The first half ended with the visiting squad holding a 35-13 lead. The Warriors were shooting an impressive 63 percent from inside the arc at half but a dismal zero percent from long distance, going 0-15 from three.
Struggles from long range again stifled the Warriors on offense. Wawasee went 2-11 from three in the second half, leaving them at 2-26 for the game.
Thomas continued to talk about his team’s ability to break Wawasee’s pressure and how important that would be for his boys going forward.
“We are going to enjoy tonight, we have won four in a row and anytime you have a win streak, its obviously good. But on Monday we have to get back to work and prepare for Concord. That’s a team that will pressure you and so tonight was good for us. We will need patience on offense and we showed we can do that here tonight,” Thomas stated.
Thomas and the Raiders improve to 7-9 on the year and 3-3 in NLC play.
Mishler would touch some more on the importance of his team to remain confident.
“If we could have continued to concentrate on playing hard no matter if the ball falls or it doesn’t fall, then we really could have grown from tonight,” Mishler stated.
The Wawasee coach would later continue, “For the rest of the year we have to say that we will play hard as a team. We will have each other’s back throughout the game, no matter what happens with out shots. If they’re falling or not. The difference from Lakeland and this game was that we hit shots early and we continued to play hard from that point. That’s something we just have to learn.”
Wawasee (4-11, 0-6) will travel to Goshen on Thursday night to take on its rival, the Redskins. Goshen (9-6, 3-3) won last year’s game in Syracuse, 51-44. The two teams are set to tip off at 7:30 p.m. at Goshen High School.
In the junior varsity contest Northridge won 55-50 over the Warrior JV. Aaron Voirol led all Warriors with 17 points scored while the Raiders Kurtis Hochstetler led all scorers with 18.