SYRACUSE – It was another rough night on the hardwood for the Wawasee Warriors basketball team on Thursday night.
The Warriors welcomed in Goshen for a Northern Lakes Conference bout with hopes of snapping a 19-game losing skid in the NLC. Goshen would prove to be too much for Wawasee, winning a defensive battle 48-38.
“Rebounding has been a big key for us,” said Goshen head coach Brian Bechtel. “This is one of the longest teams we’ve had, so that helps. But this is really a game of adjustments and they (Wawasee) came out, ran their defense and forced us into taking some bad shots. The key for us was coming out and starting strong after the half.”
The Redskins truly benefited from the lack of size on Wawasee’s roster. Goshen grabbed five offensive rebounds in the first half, creating four points from the second chance opportunities. Wawasee’s offense struggled towards the end of the half in what would be the start of a scoring drought of more than 10 minutes. The Redskins held an 18-14 lead at the break.
Activity on the scoreboard remained nonexistent well into the third quarter while Goshen opened the second half with a 10-0 run. Wawasee looked to be just idling its was to another loss before Warrior juniors Alex Clark and Gage Reinhard took matters into their own hands.
Clark hit back-to-back three-pointers with under three minutes to play in the third quarter. Reinhard then hit a three of his own and followed it up with a put-back basket to give Wawasee an 11-0 run, making the score 28-25 in favor of Goshen. But the Warriors momentum was seemingly swept out of the building when Goshen’s Austin Woolett hit a buzzer-beating jumper before the end of the quarter. Reinhard scored nine points while Clark hit three shots from deep and led the team with 16 points.
While Goshen’s lead had dwindled to just five points, 30-25, the shot from Woolett seemed to send a message that the Redskins were not going to give the game away. Goshen’s combination of Woolett and Deric Haynes were a killer for Wawasee. The Warriors shut down Goshen’s usual top scoring option in Brady Bechtel, holding him to just two points, but Wawasee had no answers for Haynes and Woolett. Both players scored 16 points and combined for six of the team’s 22 rebounds. 12 of Woolett’s points came in the second half.
Adding to Wawasee’s struggles was the team’s free throw performance. The Warriors hit three of seven shots from the line but hit just one of four attempts in the fourth quarter. Wawasee only had 11 turnovers but the Redskins turned those Warrior mistakes into 12 points. Wawasee scored just three points off of Goshen’s eight turnovers.
Wawasee head coach Steve Wiktorowski knew what to expect from Goshen on Thursday night but his team could just not get the job done.
“We knew Goshen’s size would be a problem,” said Wiktorowski. “We talked more about rebounding this week than we have all year. We weren’t shocked by their ability tonight, their success wasn’t necessarily a lack of effort on our part, but we could’ve done better. But, you also have to give credit, they’re a very strong rebounding team and they hurt us tonight.
“I think the kids were a little tired tonight. We have a lot of games compacted into a small amount of time, but that’s what everyone is facing right now with all of the cancellations. The kids have done a good job this year with preparing for the next game. They’ve done a good job of moving on and getting over it and I expect them to do just that as we head into our game on Saturday afternoon.”
Wawasee (3-12, 0-6) will travel to Rochester on Saturday to play the Zebras for the first time since the 1995-96 season. Tip is set for 1:30 p.m.
In the junior varsity game Wawasee held off a late surge from Goshen to claim a 36-30 victory over the Redskins. Parker Hatfield led Wawasee with 10 points. Jeffrey Moore and Tyler Smith both added nine for the JV Warriors.