GOSHEN — When will it all come together for the young Wawasee Warriors?
Some nights the boys basketball team shoot lights out, but cannot make a stop on the defensive side of the ball. The rest of the time they play solid defense, but cannot get a shot to fall.
The latter was the issue for Wawasee on Thursday night. Despite playing good defense early on, the Warriors failed to hit high percentage shots. The lack of offense would prove to be a major factor in a 66-27 defeat at the hands of rival Goshen.
The night looked to be somewhat promising as the Warriors defense stifled Goshen for the first few possessions. The defense even led to Wawasee’s first bucket on the night. After Goshen’s Sam Stegelmann brought down a rebound on defense, Wawasee’s Stori Bright stole the ball and laid it in for an easy two. The heads up play by the Warrior sophomore would be the only real highlight for Wawasee in the first half. Bright would not get another steal or score again but managed to pull down three rebounds for the visiting squad.
The Warrior defense may not have been flashy in the first half but it did manage to force six turnovers. But when the ball got to the other end of the court, the six turnovers only turned into four points. Wawasee’s struggles on offense could be attributed to the fact that the team never truly found a rhythm early on. Numerous foul calls and constant traveling violations on both teams prevented either squad from getting a real groove started on offense.
In addition to the constant stoppage of play from the whistles, Wawasee tried to control the tempo of the game with a slow-paced four corner passing offense. The game plan may have worked had the Warriors been able to connect on more than four shots.
Wawasee did shoot 50 percent from the field in the first half, but only managed to take eight total shots. Goshen, meanwhile, took 16 shots and connected on 10. That was good enough for a shooting success rate of almost 63 percent. The Redskins also went 6-10 from the charity stripe while Wawasee would miss the only two attempts it had in the first half. Going into the locker room the Redskins held a commanding 29-10 advantage.
When asked what the key to his team’s success tonight Goshen head coach Brian Bechtel said it all came down to execution.
“Whenever a team is going to limit possessions like Wawasee did tonight you have to be able to execute on the offensive end. That’s why I thought the first quarter was really the key to the game. We hit the shots we needed to and executed our game plan very well,” stated Bechtel.
Down the hall in the Warrior locker room, Wawasee head coach Phil Mishler focused on the offensive production for his team as well, “On offense, we got the looks we wanted. We were just not able to knock them down. From lay-ups to the threes, we just could not hit a shot.”
After the break the Warriors managed to shoot slightly better as the team tallied 11 points in the third quarter. That was the only quarter that Wawasee managed to score in double digits.
The defensive effort started to deteriorate in the second half as Goshen’s Austin Woolett kept driving inside and wearing down Wawasee. Woolett scored 11 points in the second half, giving him 20 on the night which led all scorers. The sophomore standout also added four steals as well as 13 rebounds, 10 of which were defensive boards.
Leading the way for the Warriors was Alex Clark. The Warriors sophomore went 3-3 on free throws, nailed a late first quarter three and finished with 12 points. Unfortunately, Clark would be the only Warrior to score in double digits.
Mishler touched more on what his team needs to do offensively as they move forward.
“We just need to get stronger. We are still pretty weak with the ball. Goshen is a good defensive team, and they always have been. They are solid and physical. But we need to get stronger and just handle the ball better,” Mishler stated.
Wawasee now falls to 4-12 on the season and finish 0-7 in Northern Lakes Conference play. The loss is also the Warriors fourteenth straight for Wawasee in the NLC.
In the junior varsity opener the JV Redskins beat Wawasee by a score of 32-25. Goshen’s Cam Kline led all scorers with eight points while Jeffrey Moore led the Warriors with six points and also added to assists.
The Warrior’s next opportunity to work on that ball handling will be Saturday as they welcome in Central Noble to the Hardwood TeePee for a matinee match up. Last season the Warriors were handed a 77-66 loss by the Cougars in Albion. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. in Syracuse.