WARSAW – Warsaw boys basketball coach Doug Ogle may want to bottle whatever words of wisdom that he shared with his team at halftime Thursday night.
The message that Ogle shared with his talented team sure got some second-half performance out of the host Tigers.
Warsaw opened the final half on a 14-0 run to break open a close game en route to a dominating 61-38 win over Manchester.
The Tigers, who improve to 4-1, amped up their defensive pressure to start the pivotal third period of play. Warsaw, which led just 22-19 at halftime, used full court pressure to force the Squires into turnovers on five straight possessions to open the second half. Manchester did not attempt its first shot of the third period until 2:08 had elapsed. By that time, the Tigers led 33-19. The Squires finally scored with 5:24 left in the stanza.
Smooth Senior Rashaan Jackson scored nine of his 15 points in the third quarter as Warsaw outscored the Squires 23-9 in the frame. Jackson, who did not start after missing practice Tuesday and Wednesday due to illness, was 4-5 from the field and 7-9 at the line in an excellent, efficient performance.
“We got off to a good start in the third quarter and our pressure affected them,” said Ogle. “We have a team that can press and we have two different presses and we changed it up in the third quarter. They just really struggled in the third period.
“I told our players at halftime that I was disappointed mainly in our ball handling. We had 10 turnovers at half and I told them they should be mad at themselves about that. That’s still the biggest chink in our armor right now.”
Senior guard Tim Swanson also netted 15 points in a balanced offensive attack for the Tigers. Sophomore Kyle Mangas had 12 points, including 10 in a strong first half effort. senior Nick Sands added nine points for the winners. Jake Mangas scored five points, while Paul Marandet and Peyton Long each had two and Riley Rhoades one.
“I thought that we would have a balanced team this year and that would be one of our strengths and it has been,” remarked Ogle. “We’ve already had 3-4 different players lead us in scoring. We can score in a lot of different areas and the guys are playing unselfishly and our depth is helping us.”
The Tigers shared the rock beautifully as a team in the win. The hosts shot 19-31 for the game from the field, including 12-18 in the second half. Warsaw was also 7-12 from distance, led by a 4-6 showing on 3-pointers by Swanson.
Manchester, which went 16-6 a year ago for its first winning season in more than a decade, was without top scorer Chase Fierstos. The junior is expected to be out 4-6 weeks after having surgery last week on a broken foot. Fierstos scored 30 points in Manchester’s season opener and was averaging 22 points-per-game before being injured.
The Squires, who suffered their first loss of the season to drop to 3-1, lost 42-35 to Warsaw last year.
Senior Chainey Zolman, who transferred to Manchester after a strong season for Tippecanoe Valley last year in which he averaged 12 ppg., led the Squires with 13 points. He hit just 3-9 from the field, but was 7-10 from the line before fouling out with 5:28 to play in the game.
“Give Warsaw credit,” said Manchester coach Eric Thompson, a former standout at Tippecanoe Valley. “They knew what they wanted to do and they did it. That 14-0 run was the game. We were competitive after we regained our composure after that.
“I’m not disappointed. We got beat by a great program tonight. Coach Ogle has been doing this a long time and does a nice job. They were ready to go at the start of the second half.
“Without Chase, we just have to get our young and inexperienced players ready. There’s going to be a lot of focus on Chainey.”
Sophomore David Mcatee had 10 points for the Squires. Manchester shot 12-29 overall from the field, but was just 6-17 in the second half when they were outscored 39-19.
Warsaw’s bench, led by the superb play of Jackson and Sands, outscored the Squires 26-4. Each team had 17 turnovers in the contest.
Warsaw’s outstanding junior varsity team continued to roll Thursday night. Jeremy David scored 19 points and Braxton Minix to lead the way in a 60-26 win. Ross Johnson added eight points for the winners.
Warsaw (4-1) returns to action Dec. 19 at Wawasee in their Northern Lakes Conference opener. Manchester (3-1) hosts Huntington North Saturday night. The Squires beat Wawasee 44-37 Dec. 5.