SYRACUSE – A Friday night cold turned into a Saturday night fever for the Wawasee boys basketball team.
After an ice cold shooting performance led to a disappointing loss at Manchester Friday night, the Warriors rebounded with their best offensive performance of the year while hosting West Noble just a day later. Wawasee scorched the nets in the first quarter to kick-start a 69-48 win over the Chargers.
Backed by a spirited cheer block, the Warriors hung 24 points in the first quarter alone, all while holding West Noble to nine. Six different Warriors scored in the opening frame, only four total players scored at Manchester. The offensive production was fueled by defensive prowess as Wawasee forced five Charger turnovers in the first period alone and 14 for the game.
West Noble was able to close the gap slightly in the second but Wawasee took a 38-26 lead into the break thanks to a nine-point effort in the frame by Gage Reinhard. The senior finished with a game-high 24 points, 22 of which he had through three quarters. Getting back in front of the home crowd was key for Reinhard.
“Coach talked to us about making our gym a tough place to play this year,” began Reinhard. “That’s what we’re trying to do right now, playing here tonight definitely helped how I played. All of our guys, especially our seniors, really stepped it up on our home court tonight.”
Reinhard made back-to-back steals towards the end of the third quarter which set up Jake Hutchinson under the basket for four quick points to help Wawasee pull away. Hutchinson found a groove Saturday night as well, hitting two of his three shots from deep and finishing with 10 points.
Alex Clark (eight points), Aaron Voirol (seven points) and Stori Bright (seven points) rounded out the scoring for the senior members of the team. Jeffrey Moore and Jayce Boatwright added two points each to the Warrior effort. Sam Clark also scored five for Wawasee. Bright led all players with 15 rebounds.
The 21-point victory is the largest margin of victory for Wawasee since December of 2011. When asked whether or not Friday night’s loss was talked about before Saturday’s game, Wawasee head coach Steve Wiktorowski was blunt with his response.
“Lots,” quipped Wiktorowski with a smile. “We just talked about how we were going to respond. We didn’t have the mental toughness needed to win on the road last night and we talked a lot about that after the game and before today’s game.
“We had a good walk-through before the game tonight. That was the only prep we got for West Noble, 20 minutes in our walk-through. I was really happy with how well we played knowing we had just 20 minutes of preparation while West Noble has been planning all week for us.”
Wiktorowski went on to talk about how big it is to pick up wins at home and praised the school’s cheer block for its effort on Saturday as well.
West Noble head coach Jim Best was searching for some answers following his team’s defeat.
“I can’t really explain it,” Best said of his team’s performance. “We didn’t play our game, the turnovers we had came at really bad spots. I believe Wawasee had 42 points in the paint. We can defend the paint much better than that, but we didn’t tonight and that’s all that matters.
“We just go back to work on Monday and we’ll see if they took this as a learning experience or if they’re going to pout about it. This is where we have an opportunity to teach life lessons about being a man and stepping up. We took one on the chin and we can’t let it happen again. They’ll bounce back.”
Wawasee (3-1) will play the second game of its four-game home stand Tuesday night against John Glenn (3-1). This game was originally scheduled to be played at John Glenn but has since been rescheduled to be played in Syracuse. Varsity tip is set for 7:45 p.m.
West Noble (1-2) hosts Bremen next Thursday.
Wawasee won the junior varsity contest 43-28 over West Noble.