WARSAW – Kem Zolman has seen a lot of things from the sidelines in his long and very successful basketball coaching career.
The Wawasee girls basketball coach experienced a first though Saturday night.
The Warriors were held without a basket in the second half in dropping a 53-14 Northern Lakes Conference contest to host Warsaw.
Physical. Stifling. Lockdown.
The Warsaw defense was all that and much more in routing their NLC and county rivals.
Zolman, whose young team is going through some growing pains, gave credit where credit was due.
“I give all the credit tonight to Warsaw,” said the always classy Zolman, now in his 17th season. “They were very physical with us and that’s an ingredient for disaster for us. They put a lot of heat on us. That’s one of the best defensive efforts we’ve seen this season.
“This was a first for me. But if you stay in it long enough you will see about everything.”
Vicki Harris, one of four Warsaw seniors, and Madi Graham each scored 13 points and Dayton Groninger had 10 as Warsaw improved to 6-5 overall and 1-1 in the NLC.
Junior Kylee Rostochak scored 10 points for Wawasee, which drops to 3-8 overall and 0-2 in league play.
Warsaw, which lost 39-35 at Wawasee last season, outscored the Warriors 19-2 in the second half. Wawasee was 0-16 from the field in the final two quarters and their lone points came as Rostochak made two free throws with 1:34 left in the game.
“What a defensive effort,” said Warsaw coach Michelle Harter. “Our defense has been tremendous all year long and kept us in games, but tonight the girls just did fantastic job.
“They worked together as a team defensively and did a tremendous job finding people and making them take contested shots. Our focus was to try and frustrate Kylee and Vicki (Harris) did a great job of that.”
Warsaw, which has won five of its last seven games, was allowing 43 points-per-game prior to Saturday night. Wawasee, which has now lost its last six games, was averaging 39.7 ppg.
Graham got the hosts going big time Saturday night. The sophomore guard, who missed the NLC opening game loss to Plymouth last Saturday due to illness, was on her game. The tough, hard-nosed 5-8 sharpshooter hit three treys and had 11 points in the opening period as the Tigers led 17-8. Harris scored eight in the second stanza as Warsaw led 42-12 at halftime.
“Madi just got us off to great start tonight,” said Harter, who played at Wawasee. “She’s doing a tremendous job for us this year. She’s a strong player and she just gives us a calming effect out there on the floor.
“Vicki has been great on defense all year and now she is starting to provide us with more offense. She’s letting the game come to her, not forcing things and just doing a great job on both ends of the floor.”
Warsaw shot a sizzling 19-29 from the field. Wawasee finished 4-37.
“It’s going to be a healing time for us after this one,” said Zolman, whose roster has just one senior. “What confidence we had, they took it out of us.”
Harris also had five assists and four rebounds. Erin Clemens had five points and Pam Miller four points and a team-high five rebounds for Warsaw.
Warsaw won the junior varsity game 35-24. Maddy Martz had eight points and Maryann Marandet seven to lead Warsaw. Kayla White and Madison Beaman each had six points to lead the Warriors.
Warsaw returns to action Dec. 30 in its own TCU Classic. The Tigers play Lowell at 10 a.m. Wawasee is idle until hosting its own Shootout on Jan. 3. The Warriors play Brebeuf at 11:45 a.m.