SOUTH WHITLEY – Oh man, what a defense!
The Warsaw Lady Tigers basketball team headed east for a post-holiday showdown with Whitko Friday night. Warsaw was able to use a solid performance on the defensive side of the court to claim a 54-30 victory over the host Lady Wildcats.
While the victory was well-earned by the ladies, the defense was all about the man. That is, man-to-man defense.
“Man-to-man defense is something I’ve always wanted to run,” said Warsaw head coach Michelle Harter. “That’s something I think this team loves to run. Everybody was on board and tonight, we played man-to-man the whole game and it really helped get us going on the offensive end as well.”
The first quarter was a defense struggle as the frame closed with Warsaw leading 8-3. By the half the Lady Tigers had extended the lead to be 22-9. Offensive production was scarce on both sides in the first half, thankfully for Warsaw, Pam Miller came to play in that opening half. The Warsaw senior scored all eight of the team’s points in the first quarter, and 13 of the 22 halftime points. Miller would finish with 15 points.
The rest of the Lady Tigers stepped up big in the second half to extend the lead and ultimately secure the win. Madi Graham scored all 13 of her points in the second half to boost the visitor’s effort and also tied for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Jodie Carlson also had eight boards. Viki Harris finished with 10 points.
The Lady Tigers forced 19 Whitko tunrovers, but that stat would end up being a wash as Whitko forced 19 Lady Tiger turnovers as well. The Whitko offense turned a small corner in the second half, scoring 21 points while only getting nine in the first half. But Whitko’s ability to go toe-to-toe with Warsaw, or lack thereof, is what ultimately doomed the Lady ‘Cats.
“We’re very mentally soft right now,” said Whitko head coach Brandon Bradley. “We allowed them to push us around and be physical with us. They were the aggressor, we were reactionary. It wasn’t much different than our second half at Huntington North.
“It’s a long season, you have to be able to evolve throughout the season. We’re not evolving quick enough. Our young players are not evolving quick enough. I think they play hard, I think they care, I think they get along well. But, at the end of the day, we just need to be more productive.”
Whitko struggled to get anything going offensively, shooting just 22-percent from the field. Aly Reiff did have her moments for the Lady Wildcats, she led all scorers with 16 points and all players with nine rebounds. Maddi Gawthrop added seven points for Whitko.
Whitko (2-3) will host Fort Wayne Northrop on Wednesday while Warsaw (2-3) will travel to Norwell Tuesday evening.
Warsaw won the junior varsity contest 36-26. Kenzie Welk of Warsaw led all scorers with 12 points. Whitko was led offensively by Riley Insley.