WARSAW – The 2014-15 edition of the Warsaw girls basketball team features plenty of youth.
Coach Michelle Harter also sees plenty to like from a varsity roster that includes seven sophomores to go with four seniors.
“We’re a young team, but we’ve also gotten tremendous leadership from our seniors,” said Harter. “Our young players are like sponges. They listen and absorb things and want to get better.
“This is a team that I think will be fun to watch. They are very dedicated and motivated. They are on the same page and they want to succeed.”
Warsaw is set to open its season Saturday night at home versus Huntington North. The Tigers’ starting lineup is likely to include seniors Pam Miller and Jodie Carlson along with the sophomore trio of Kilee Slone, Dayton Groninger and Madi Graham. Miller, a 5-10 post player, made 19 starts last year and averaged 5.2 points-per-game, while 5-7 guard Carlson started 18 games and averaged 3.3 ppg. Slone, a 5-4 guard, started nine games before being sidelined due to an injury.
The Warsaw roster also features seniors Vicki Harris and Erin Clemens as well as sophomores Page Desenberg, Mariah Rivera, Kenzie Welk, and Lauren Shaffner.
The Tigers finished 10-10 overall and 5-2 in the Northern Lakes Conference last season. The Tigers, who started the year 2-7, lost to Northridge 42-41 in the sectional semifinals. Warsaw graduated three starters in top scorer and rebounder Nikki Grose (14 and 8), Brooklyn Harrison (7 ppg.) and Eryn Leek (5 ppg.). Grose is now playing at Indiana Tech, while Leek is at Holy Cross College.
“I think that we have some good shooters this year,” said Harter, who is 90-41 in her six seasons as coach. “I think we have a lot of different players who can score for us and it’s the type of group that does not care who does the scoring for us.
“A big thing for us will be our rebounding as we are not a very big team this season. We’re still learning defensively, but I think this team will be a good defensive team again. They are dedicated to us continuing to be a strong defensive team.”
Warsaw opens its season with three homes games. The Tigers host Huntington North Saturday night, then Fort Wayne Luers on Tuesday and county rival Tippecanoe Valley Nov. 21. The NLC opener will be versus Plymouth Dec. 13 in the Tiger Den.
The Tigers were 24-2 two years ago, including winning the NLC title at 6-1 and then Class 4-A sectional and regional championships before losing in the semi state.
Harter feels that her young group has what it takes to get the program back on the upswing after a tough season a year ago.
“We’re not dwelling on last year, but we learned things from it,” Harter said. “But this is a completely different group. We may take some lumps early because we are young and it’s going to be a learning process.
“But I like this team. I think they are tough and will be mentally ready to play. Our sophomores are used to winning too.”