WARSAW – Good defense and strong free throw shooting will win you a lot of high school basketball games.
The Warsaw girls basketball team proved those points Tuesday night.
The host Tigers put the clamps on Columbia City for a 43-36 win in non-conference action in the Tiger Den.
Warsaw held the Eagles, who came into the contest with an 8-1 record, to a season-low point total. The 36 points was also 18 points below City’s average points-per-game through their first nine games.
Warsaw coach Michelle Harter was very pleased to see her team bounce back in a big way after opening conference play at home Saturday night with a 15-point loss to Plymouth.
“This was a big win for us,” said Harter, whose team snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 5-5. “The girls stepped up tonight and met the challenge.
“Our girls did a nice job switching defenses and not allowing City to attack and score which they like to do and we talked about in practice on Monday. Our girls also did a nice job knowing where their two big scorers (Hinen and Wright) were at all times. Then we attacked and went strong to the basket and stepped up and down the stretch and hit big free throws.”
Warsaw led 12-11 after the opening period and the game was deadlocked at 22-22 at halftime. The Tigers outscored the Eagles 5-1 in the third period and then 16-13 in the final frame.
Warsaw shot 12-28 from the field and 19-27 from the line. The Eagles were just 12-35 from the field, including only 4-17 in the second half. City finished just 12-22 from the line.
The game saw five ties and 11 lead changes. The biggest lead was Warsaw’s final margin of victory at seven points.
Dayton Groninger and Vicki Harris each had 13 points to lead Warsaw. Mariah Rivera added eight points.
“Vicki has been doing a tremendous job for us the last few games becoming more of a scorer,” Harter said. “Mariah was a little nervous Saturday. She did relax tonight and play her game.”
The game also saw Madi Graham return for Warsaw. The sophomore guard missed Saturday’s game with Plymouth due to illness.
“It was nice to have Madi back tonight,” said Harter.
Harter said she expects both Graham and Kilee Slone to be able to play Saturday night versus Wawasee. Slone has missed the last eight games after suffering a concussion in practice.
Chelsea Pettigrew led the Eagles with 11 points. Macie Hinen and Aubrey Wright each had six points.
City started the season at 8-0 before losing 62-50 at Norwell on Dec. 12.
The Warsaw junior varsity team improved to 10-0 with a 33-29 win. Jessie Kersey led the way for coach Mindy Stookey’s undefeated squad with 10 points. Kenzie Welk and Maryann Marandet each had seven points for the JV Tigers.
Warsaw hosts conference foe Wawasee Saturday night. Columbia City plays at East Noble Saturday afternoon.