WARSAW – The ushering in of the boys basketball season is always an exciting time at Warsaw Community High School. This season is no different for the Tigers, which bring back a strong core of a team that was on the brink of big things last season.
There should be no setbacks entering the campaign, as health is not an issue with anyone and the suspensions to Rashaan Jackson and Nick Sands have all been served. It’s just going to be about basketball, begins Warsaw head coach Doug Ogle.
“I’m anxious to get started,” Ogle stated. “I really think we will be good. We will likely play nine in our rotation to start, the pecking order is to be determined. Our deeper strength is the depth we have, starting with our five seniors, who all can flat-out play basketball.
“Our underclassmen are all capable. It’s been a while to have a group like this. To have a group that is this skilled.”
Jackson and Sands join a senior group that also includes Jake Mangas, Peyton Long and Tim Swanson. From points scored, Mangas is the returning scorer at 200 points, but the eight games Jackson missed cut into his total, who was scoring 13 points per game before his suspension. Both players can get to the rack, but have a mid-range shot to compliment their scoring arsenal.
Long at the point along with Sands on the wing give Warsaw shooting threats, despite Sands not playing his junior year at all mired with an injury. Swanson did a lot of the dirty work last season, coming off the bench to average 6.3 points and two rebounds per game plus a 45 percent (31-69) three-point percentage.
Quietly, junior Paul Marandet was one of the better numbers guys on the Tigers roster. Marandet shot 78 percent (21-27) from the free throw line, and is the returning leader in rebounds (75), assists (54), blocked shots (13) and steals (33). Classmates Evan Schmidt and Riley Rhoades are both expected to make impacts right away, Rhoades as athletic as anyone in the school.
Sophomores Jeremy David and Kyle Mangas both have tremendous upside. The duo had incredible football seasons this past fall, and Mangas found his way into the varsity basketball rotation late last season.
With all the talent, how does Ogle plan to spread the wealth on offense?
“I’m not sure who the go-to guy for us is yet,” Ogle said. “I haven’t determined that yet. We have balanced scoring, and several kids as options. My coaching instincts tell me we will be pretty good. And the fact that we start completely healthy is a big advantage. That will let me see where we really are at as a team.”
With the IHSAA allowing for two extra games to the schedule, Warsaw didn’t pick up small-school bunnies. Instead, Warsaw will travel to both Hamilton Southeastern and Carmel in February, and still have some of the state heavyweights in tow right away. Warsaw opens at home Wednesday against Tippecanoe Valley and hosts Columbia City Saturday, then faces possibly its toughest test Dec. 5 at Homestead.
Ogle also points to a three-game, five-day stretch in January, with road games at Elkhart Central, Goshen and Fort Wayne Snider that will likely dictate Warsaw’s stretch run.
“If our depth shows up, that three-game stretch in January will be dynamic and telling for us,” Ogle said. “We play a very tough schedule, but we have the talent to do it. I really think this is going to be a great season.”