WARSAW – It was simply a case of deja vu Friday night for the Warsaw boys basketball team.
The Tigers played well enough to win at times, but not well enough overall to get a much-needed victory.
Warsaw, as has been the case all season, battled until the end before dropping a tough 44-43 overtime decision to Fort Wayne Carroll in the regular-season finale.
Chandler White, a silky-smooth sophomore guard, hit a tough jumper with 19 seconds left in the extra session to lift the Chargers to the win. White scored a game-high 17 points to spoil Senior Night for Warsaw’s five members of the Class of 2013.
Warsaw got off a tough look on a 3-point try from the top of the key by Jason Ferguson, but the shot hit off the back of the rim as time expired.
The Tigers, who tied the game on a rebound basket by Ferguson with four seconds to play in regulation, drop to 10-10. Warsaw has lost four of its last five games heading into sectional play Tuesday night.
Once again, it was the little things that did in the Tigers, who at one time were 8-4. The hosts had 14 turnovers to just seven assists and went 8-of-13 from the free throw line. Carroll, which snapped a five-game losing streak to improve to 9-13, hit 17-of-23 from the stripe.
For Warsaw coach Doug Ogle, it had to be like watching a rerun of many of his team’s losses this season.
“I don’t know what to say,” remarked Ogle taking a minute to try and collect his thoughts after seeing another one get away. “The same things that have been causing us to lose games all season showed up tonight.
“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns, but probably more so it was offensively. We had too many turnovers in the fourth quarter and too many times we didn’t execute. We let some points go at the free throw line and couldn’t come up with three of four 50-50 balls.
“Their defense was good at the end, but we didn’t execute to get what we wanted. I’m proud of the guys for the way they hung in there and how they came back and got the lead in the fourth quarter. Carroll’s record is deceiving. They’ve played a very tough schedule. They almost beat Columbia City twice.”
The Tigers, after White’s tough jumper made it 44-43, took a timeout with 12.7 seconds to play. Senior Jared Bloom, Warsaw’s leading scorer, was doubled team coming off a screen and had to throw the ball off a Carroll defender to save the possession. Warsaw then took another timeout with 3.8 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds play, Bloom could not get open and Ferguson took the inbounds pass and let fly from the top of the key.
“We did a great job battling through tonight and I’m proud of my kids for how they did battle,” said Carroll coach Marty Beasley, whose team beat the Tigers 60-57 at home last season. “Warsaw is good, especially here at home. Our schedule has prepared us for games like this.
“We definitely wanted to trap Bloom at the end and our guys did a good job switching on him to deny him the ball at the end. White is a very talented player for us. He’s a hard matchup and the type of player to make tough shots like he did to put us ahead.
“The key for us was that we attacked the paint in the second half, created some offense and got them in foul trouble and got to the line. If we would just make some free throws to make it easier on ourselves. We’re young, but we’re battling better. We’ve played a tough schedule and that’s prepared us for games like this one.”
Carroll, now 9-13, missed three free throws in overtime. Freshman Kyle Mallers missed a pair with his team ahead 42-41 with 1:39 to play. The Tigers then took the lead at 43-42 as Jordan Stookey scored on goaltending call on a drive to the hoop with 1:09 to play after a steal by teammate Rashaan Jackson. The Chargers then milked the clock down to 29.6 seconds before calling a timeout. White then hit a fallaway jumper from about 12 feet for the game winner.
The Chargers led 11-9 after the opening quarter and 20-19 at halftime as Mason Miller scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half. Carroll led 28-26 at the end of the third period. Warsaw took its first lead of the game with 4:09 to play at 33-32 on a free throw by Taylor Cone. The Tigers led 37-34 with 2:41 left after a pair of free throws by Bloom. Carroll answered with a 5-0 run to take a 39-37 advantage before Ferguson grabbed a rebound in a wild scramble after a 3-point miss by Jordan Stookey and covered the tying basket to send the game into overtime.
Ogle now has two practices to ready his team to face host Elkhart Central (6-14) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the opening game of the Class 4-A sectional at North Side Gym. Warsaw beat the Blue Blazers 47-45 on Jan. 8 in North Side Gym.
“It’s time to turn our thoughts to the tournament,” Ogle said. “It’s not time for us to feel sorry for ourselves or to cast blame at anyone.”
Bloom led the Tigers with 14 points, but shot just 4-of-12 from the field. Ferguson and Jackson each scored nine points and Stookey had six to go with five rebounds.
The five Tiger seniors, Bloom, Ferguson, Cone, John Swanson and Quim Romans (an exchange student) were honored prior to the varsity game Friday night. The five then started for Warsaw.
Carroll won the junior varsity contest by a 46-44 final. Nick Sands scored 12 points, Cody Freeman 10 and Jonny Hollar eight to lead Warsaw. Avery Fath netted 13 points and Jeffrey Kalonji 12 for Carroll.
Carroll plays Fort Wayne Northrop Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the opening game of the Class 4-A Carroll Sectional.