WARSAW – For 16 minutes of boys basketball Wednesday night, it looked like an upset alert might be signaling from the Tiger Den. But for what Tippecanoe Valley was able to do right in the first half against Warsaw, it lost all balance in the second half of a 61-48 final in favor of the Tigers.
Out-sized, out-experienced and short on court presence, Tippecanoe Valley at the tip looked to be short in all phases to Warsaw. But as Alex Thacker kept shooting and Neil Clampitt kept being in the right spot, Valley found itself up 27-24 at the half. As three-quarters of the gym sat in stunned silence, Valley looked like they could at least run with the Tigers.
“We played very well in the first half,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Bill Patrick. “Clampitt scored a little bit for us in the first half, but lost his shot in the second half. We just lost track of what we did well in the first half. But Warsaw is a really good team, we played with them for a half, but the third quarter we just didn’t score.”
But all that had gone right for Valley in the first half soon dissolved into the Thanksgiving Eve air. Warsaw put together a 15-0 run in the third quarter, part of a 23-7 run overall in the quarter. At the forefront of the push was the play of Jake Mangas, who had two straight big baskets inside, part of his 19-point night.
Little brother Kyle Mangas sank the dagger right at the end of the quarter, drilling a three-pointer off an inbounds play at the buzzer to put Warsaw up 47-34.
“Jake is an active player, he keeps moving and fighting for position,” Ogle said. “He is a fairly skilled inside player. Our guards did a nice job getting the ball in to him. When you have a guy who has some skill, is smart and active, you’re talking about Jake Mangas.”
Jake Mangas was 8-of-9 from the floor and added five rebounds and little brother Kyle added seven points and three assists.
Tim Swanson fired in 11 points from the bench, which in total was a 16-7 advantage for Warsaw over Valley in bench scoring.
Thacker, playing in his first game after missing all of last season, had a big night. The guard scored 23 points and added six boards, four assists and four steals. But the help from the Vikings was sparse in the second half as Valley only had eight points from someone other than Thacker. Clampitt, who scored nine points in the first half, was shut out in the second half.
Gavin Bussard scored nine points and Jarred Littlejohn added seven points, but Valley did not have anyone else score a point.
“We obviously need someone other than Alex to score for us,” Patrick said. “We had some good looks tonight, the shots just weren’t falling in the second half.”
Ogle, on the other hand, was impressed with his depth and the level of play his team showed as the game moved on. And with a very big and physical Columbia City team coming in Saturday – to which the Eagles blew out Whitko 73-16 Wednesday night – and the matchup with City has Ogle intrigued.
“This is going to be a different type of opponent,” Ogle said of Columbia City. “I don’t think they will be able to dribble penetrate like Valley did. It’s more inside defense and how are we going to defend Brachen Hazen and Parker Hazen in the post and cover the (Mason) Coverstone kid shooting from the outside.”
The JV game was all Warsaw from the get-go, 53-24. Warsaw never trailed in the game and had Jeremy David led the team with 12 points and Braxton Minix chip in 10 points and seven rebounds. Jarod Duzenbury had five points and five rebounds to lead Valley.
Warsaw (1-0) will host Columbia City Saturday night at 7:45 p.m. while Tippecanoe Valley (0-1) will have its home opener Tuesday against Argos, a 7:45 p.m. varsity tip.
The pre-game featured a short ceremony honoring longtime Warsaw athletics icon Bob “Coach” Lichtenwalter. Surrounded by family and a host of influential friends from his decades of service to the Warsaw school system, Lichtenfelter was recognized by WCHS athletic director Dave Anson and presented a Warsaw basketball chair by Ogle prior to tip-off.