Nikki Grose, shown in a recent game at NorthWood, will be a key player for Warsaw when sectional play begins Tuesday night. The No. 9 Tigers face Elkhart Memorial at Concord.
The Warsaw girls basketball team should definitely hope that the the old adage about familiarity breeding success holds true in the Concord Sectional.
If it does, the Tigers will be hoisting the tournament trophy come Saturday night.
Warsaw, the favorite in the six-team Class 4-A event at Concord, is 4-0 versus the rest of the field. The No. 8 Tigers, who are 19-1, beat first-round foe Elkhart Memorial 39-32 on Jan. 22. That win at Memorial snapped a 13-game losing streak to the Crimson Chargers.
Warsaw, whose last sectional championship came in 2004, meets a tough conference opponent in the Tuesday night opener. Memorial has won nine sectional titles in a row and defeated the Tigers 52-41 in a sectional semifinal game last year, the fifth straight year that Memorial has sidelined the Tigers in sectional play. The Chargers then topped Northridge 49-47 in the sectional final before losing 46-39 to East Chicago Central in a regional semifinal contest at Valparaiso the following week.
The Tigers, after receiving the a first-round bye in the sectional in each of coach Michelle Harter’s first four years at the helm, will try and go a different route to postseason glory this time around. Warsaw will have a difficult row to hoe this year as the Tigers have to face Memorial, then likely host Concord in the semifinals and then probably a strong Northridge team in the title game.
“Our girls are very anxious to play,” said Harter following the regular-season finale Thursday night. “They’re excited to play Tuesday and for a different start for us to the sectional from in years past.”
Warsaw, which started the year 18-0 before a 34-30 loss at Class 3-A power NorthWood on Jan. 26, will face a quick and athletic Memorial team. The Crimson Chargers are … under second-year coach Steve Scott.
“The big thing for us is to handle their pressure,” Harter said of the matchup with Memorial. “We have to value each possession. We can’t allow them to get on huge runs and we can’t allow dribble penetration. Rebounding will be another big key to the game. We know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Warsaw also owns wins over sectional teams Concord (52-21), Northridge (52-39) and Goshen (57-44). The forte all season for the Tigers has been its defense. Warsaw is allowing just 35 ppg. this season.
The Tigers are led by their outstanding trio of seniors Jennifer Walker-Crawford (14.2 ppg.) and Lindsay Baker (12.7) and junior Nikki Grose (11.2). Walker-Crawford has signed with Kentucky Wesleyan, while Baker will play at Toledo. Memorial counters with smooth junior and Division I prospect Khadijah Moore, a junior averaging 14.6 ppg. and senior Monica Jones, who scores 10.3 ppg.
Other top players to watch at Concord include senior twins Haley and Madison Schrock of Northridge, who each average 12 ppg. and senior Aimee Swihart of Goshen, who has signed to play at Bethel College and averages 16.8 ppg.
The Concord Sectional winner advances to the Valparaiso Regional Feb. 16. They will play the Penn Sectional champion in the second semifinal game.
Warriors To Face Huge Test
Wawasee will also face a very familiar and formidable foe too come Tuesday night’s tournament opener.
The Warriors (10-10) play host and No. 3 NorthWood (19-3) in the first game of the Class 3-A NorthWood Sectional in Nappanee.
The defending sectional champion Panthers and Warriors will meet for the ninth time in the last 10 years in sectional action. NorthWood has won six of the last nine sectional titles, while Wawasee has claimed the other three.
NorthWood is 4-0 versus the sectional field, including a 74-41 win over Wawasee on Jan. 5. The Panthers of coach Steve Neff, who now owns a 631-174 record in 36 seasons at NWHS with a state title in 1999, have lost to Penn, Plymouth and Memorial this year.
“We are going into it with nothing to lose,” said Wawasee coach Kem Zolman Friday night after a loss at Northridge. “That’s the way we have to approach it. I think the last several games with physical play, we have had a really difficult time with that. Our young people have a tough time
trying to counteract. Sometimes they just lower their head and go. Other times, maybe they get a little bump and shut off. That’s who we are at this point. We’ll just go into next week with nothing to lose and give it everything we’ve got.
“Fifteen years ago when I first started, NorthWood had three Division 1 players. Our very first year, they beat us by 40. Since then, it hasn’t been dominating since. They upset us once, we beat them a couple times, they beat us a couple times. We had a state team and they got us at home. Now we are back to that scenario from way back then, they have four players that are probably going to play at different levels of college basketball. And we have an NAIA player, just one. Can our kids come out and play like a ‘Hoosiers’ type thing, I don’t know. It comes to a point in the season when that first game is the most difficult one. You get through that first game, and then it’s OK. Until you get past that, its always the toughest. But I think this is the best draw we could have. You get past the first one, and then you never know. But we’ll see.”
Wawasee star senior KiLee Knafel will lead the Warriors into sectional action Tuesday night versus host NorthWood.
Wawasee is led by high-scoring senior standout KiLee Knafel. The star, who will play at IUSB, is averaging 24.3 ppg. and ranks second in school history with 1,632 career points, trailing only former Wawasee superstar and WNBA player Shanna Zolman’s all-time state record of 3,085. Freshman Kylee Rostochak averages 8.2 ppg. for the Warriors. The Panthers have a pair of twin towers inside with junior Division I prospect Morgan Olson (20) and senior Savannah Bley (14.5) and a Division I calibre guard in sophomore Jordyn Frantz (12).
The second contest at NorthWood Tuesday pits Tippecanoe Valley (7-12) versus West Noble (14-70. The Vikings lost to the Chargers 75-62 on Dec. 29. Valley is led by junior Cara Hoffman (12.5) and sophomore Caylie Teel (10.5), while West Noble counts on Kelsie Peterson (16.1) and 6-2, Ball State bound senior Haley Richardson (15.2).
The NorthWood Sectional champion advances to the Bellmont Regional on Feb. 16. They will play the winner of the Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger Sectional in the first semifinal game.
Trojans Eye Possible Rematch With Bobcats
Triton will hope that the third time is the charm in sectional play.
The Trojans, who received a bye, will face either South Central or Culver in a semifinal game Friday at the Class 1-A Oregon-Davis Sectional in Hamlet. With a win, Triton will run right into the hosts in all likelihood in the sectional final for a third meeting this season.
Oregon-Davis, No. 2 in the Class 1-A poll, sports an 18-3 mark. The Bobcats won 65-55 at Triton Jan. 2 and then crushed the Trojans 80-39 Jan. 19 in the championship game of the Bi-County Tournament at LaVille.
Triton, ranked No. 9 in the final Class 1-A poll, has not lost since the setback to the Bobcats. The 16-5 Trojans finished a perfect 7-0 in Northern State Conference play with a win at LaVille Friday night to win the program’s first outright league title since the 2000-01 team that went on to win a second straight state championship. Triton shared the NSC title a year ago with Bremen at 6-1.
The Trojans own wins over both South Central (69-36) and NSC foe Culver (52-37) during the regular season. Triton boasts a balanced attack, led by the trio of junior Taylor Hatfield, senior Shana Anderson and sophomore Kylie Mason. All three average right at 14 ppg. for coach Adam Heckaman’s squad.
Oregon-Davis, which plays Westville in a first-round game Wednesday, will present a big challenge for Triton. The Bobcats boast an average winning margin of 26 ppg. and have lost to Class 3-A South Bend St. Joe and Class 4-A powers Penn and Michigan City. OD is led by its stellar junior class of Ashley Campbell (19.5), Jesse Averone (14.5), Alisha McIntosh (12.7) and Haley Collings (11.6).
The Oregon-Davis Sectional champion advances to the Caston Regional Jan. 16. They will play the Morgan Township Sectional winner in the first semifinal game.
Wildcats, Cougars Hope To Make History
Whitko and Lakeland Christian Academy both hope to make a little history this week.
Both will face big challenges as they bid to win a first-ever sectional championship.
Whitko, which has survived through an injury-filled season, drew a bye and plays wither Bellmont or Heritage in a semifinal game Friday night at the Class 3-A Mississinewa Sectional. The Wildcats, who are 7-13, have had a plethora of players suffer injuries and play through pain all season long. Whitko did not play either Bellmont or Heritage during the regular season.
Whitko is led by four-year starter Cagney Craig, who averages 9.6 ppg. Other key performers for the Wildcats are senior Melanie Kelsey (8.2), junior Jordan Hall (7.9) and senior Josie Sparks (7.1).
Norwell, ranked No. 5 and 18-3, is the heavy favorite at Mississinewa.
The Mississinewa Sectional champion will play in the Bellmont Regional Feb. 16. They will face the Hamilton Heights Sectional winner in the second semifinal game.
LCA makes its IHSAA postseason debut Tuesday night in the opening game of the Class 1-A Fort Wayne Canterbury Sectional. The Cougars (4-17) face Hamilton (7-13) in the opener of the eight-team tourney. Coach Ty Propp’s squad, which did not play Hamilton this season, is led by seniors Emilee Catron (8.7), Jessica Goss (7.8) and Alisa Gross (6.1).
Fort Wayne Canterbury is the Goliath in the sectional. The hosts are ranked No. 1, sport at 18-3 record and have won four of the last five Class 1-A state championships. Canterbury is coached by Wayne Kreiger, who is in his first season as head coach. Kreiger, who spent 33 years as the girls coach at Columbia City, was an assistant last year and took over for his son Scott this season. The younger Kreiger is now coach of the boys team at Canterbury.
The Canterbury Sectional winner advances to the Caston Regional Feb. 16. They will play the North White Sectional champion in the second semifinal game.
Girls Basketball Sectional Pairings
(All starting times ET)
Tuesday, Feb. 5: 6 p.m.: Elkhart Memorial (13-7) vs. Warsaw (19-1); 7:30: Goshen (13-7) vs. Elkhart Central (2-19)
Friday, Feb. 8: 6 p.m.: Concord (6-16) vs. Memorial-Warsaw winner; 7:30: Northridge (18-4) vs. Goshen-Central winner
Saturday, Feb. 9: 7 p.m.: Championship Game
Tuesday, Feb. 5: 6 p.m.: NorthWood (19-3) vs. Wawasee (10-10); 7:30: West Noble (14-7) vs. Tippecanoe Valley (7-12)
Friday, Feb. 8: 6 p.m.: Fairfield (13-8) vs. NorthWood-Wawasee winner; 7:30: Lakeland (5-15) vs. West Noble-Tippecanoe Valley winner
Saturday, Feb. 9: 7:30 p.m.: Championship Game
Tuesday, Feb. 5: 6 p.m.: Mississinewa (3-17) vs. Norwell (18-3); 7:30: Bellmont (5-15) vs. Heritage (12-8)
Friday, Feb. 8: 6 p.m.: Eastbrook (14-6) vs. Mississinewa-Norwell winner; 7:30: Whitko (7-13) vs. Bellmont-Heritage winner
Saturday, Feb. 9: 7:30 p.m.: Championship Game
Tuesday, Feb. 5: 6:30 p.m.: South Central (12-7) vs. Culver (11-9)
Wednesday, Feb. 6: 6:30 p.m.: Westville (4-16) vs. Oregon-Davis (18-3); 8: Argos (10-10) vs. Marquette Catholic (2-17)
Friday, Feb. 8: 6:30 p.m.: Triton (16-5) vs. South Central-Culver winner; 8: Westville-Oregon-Davis winner vs. Argos-Marquette winner
Saturday, feb. 9: 7 p.m.: Championship Game
At Fort Wayne Canterbury
Tuesday, Feb. 5: 6 p.m.: Lakeland Christian Academy (4-17) vs. Hamilton (7-13); 7:30: Bethany Christian (11-9) vs. Howe (1-5)
Wednesday, Feb. 6: 6 p.m.: Elkhart Christian (4-16) vs. Lakewood Park (15-4); 7:30: Fort Wayne Blackhawk (6-14) vs. Fort Wayne Canterbury (18-3)
Friday, Feb. 8: 6 p.m.: LCA-Hamilton winner vs. Bethany-Howe winner; 7:30: Elkhart Christian-Lakewood Park winner vs. Blackhawk-Canterbury winner
Saturday, Feb. 9: 7:30 p.m.: Championship Game