WARSAW – Warsaw girls basketball coach Michelle Harter has seen her young team continue to improve since tipping off the season three weeks ago.
That trend continued Saturday afternoon for the Tigers.
Warsaw rode a tremendous first-half performance to a 50-36 win over Michigan City in non-conference action in the Tiger Den.
Sophomore Dayton Groninger canned 17 points, senior Pam Miller 13 and sophomore Madi Graham 12 to lead the way for the winners.
Senior Raven Wood netted 19 points and classmate Michal Miller added 14 for the Wolves
Warsaw ran its season mark to 4-3 with its third straight win. The Tigers have strung together a nice little streak after losing three in a row.
Michigan City, which lost at conference foe Chesterton 63-59 in overtime Friday night, sees its record slip to 3-2.
The Tigers, coming off an impressive 55-53 win at Norwell Tuesday night, played an outstanding opening half Saturday. Warsaw used a 9-0 run in the opening period to build a 15-4 lead as the Wolves were scoreless for a 4:15 stretch.
Warsaw was on fire in the second period. Miller scored 10 points in the frame on 5-5 shooting from the field as the hosts outscored City 19-3 to lead 34-12 at halftime. Miller scored her team’s first nine points of the game. Groninger had 13 points to pace Warsaw at half.
“The girls did a great job following our game plan in the first half,” said coach Harter. “We slowed down and were patient offensively and we did not let Miller get comfortable.
“Those three (Dayton, Pam and Madi) stepped up big for us today. We got big efforts from all three of them. Madi hit some big shots early (a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter) when we were kind of struggling. Dayton attacked the basket and we were able to isolate Pam inside and she did a great job (going 6-6 from the field).”
The third quarter turned into a complete reversal for Warsaw. The Tigers were outscored 19-3 in the period as the Wolves rallied within 37-31. Warsaw had eight of its 23 turnovers in the frame and Wood exploded for 16 points, including swishing through four 3-pointers.
“We got rattled in the third quarter and sped ourselves up,” Harter noted. “We were playing too quickly and forcing the issue. We did completely the opposite of what we did in the first half. It’s a learning experience for us. Michigan City is a good team and we knew they would make a run.”
The Tigers regained their game and their composure in the final stanza. Jodie Carlson scored five points, including hitting a key trey, and Graham calmly drained five free throws as Warsaw outscored the Wolves 13-5.
“We settled down in the fourth and looked to attack,” said Harter. “The girls did a nice job getting back to doing the little things we need to do. They have definitely taken a step upwards the last few weeks. They are buying into our team effort on defense and seeing the success it brings us. Our strong defense helps us relax offensively too.”
Miller, who has committed to Arizona, had just five points in the final three quarters. She entered play Saturday averaging 27 points-per-game and had 29 Friday night despite missing a lot of time due to foul trouble early on versus Chesterton.
Warsaw was 14-33 from the field and 18-29 from the line. The hosts had a dominating 40-21 rebounding edge as Page Desenberg and Erin Clemens each had nine caroms. Carlson finished with seven points.
City was just 13-43 from the field, including 6-20 from distance. The Wolves were 4-10 from the line and had 18 turnovers.
The Wolves, who lost 59-38 to Warsaw last year, were just 4-17 a year ago. Mike Megyese, who coached South Bend St. Joseph’s to a Class 3-A state championship in 2005, is now 78-40 in his sixth year as the City coach.
Warsaw won the junior varsity contest 52-8. Maryann Marandet had 14 points, Lauren Shaffner eight and Mariah Rivera and Abby Glass seven each for the Tigers.
Warsaw (4-3) plays at Wabash Tuesday and then opens conference play by hosting Plymouth Saturday night. City plays at Lake Central on Friday night.