Friday’s game centered around raising funds for Kosciusko County Special Olympics. For more on that follow this link.
SYRACUSE – It was “Tiger Time” most of the time Friday night at the Hardwood Teepee.
The Warsaw boys basketball team entered a hostile environment at Wawasee High School for both team’s Northern Lakes Conference opener and walked out tied for first in the conference behind a 63-42 victory.
Two great cheer blocks set the tone for this annual rivalry that did not quite live up to the hype in the end. Wawasee jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, but once the Tigers regained the lead, they never gave it back.
Keeping the lead and building upon it can be attributed to several different players for Warsaw, but Tim Swanson was the man that got things going early for the Orange and Black. Swanson hit three shots from behind the arc in the opening quarter to boost an otherwise slow-starting Tiger offense. Swanson has been money off the bench for Doug Ogle’s team all season, which is just how Ogle drew it up.
“He’s our leading scorer coming off the bench,” Ogle said of Swanson. “I challenged him at the beginning of the season to become our Manu Ginobili and he’s accepted that role very well.”
Swanson finished his night with nine points, one of four Tigers to score double digits against the Warriors. While Warsaw had its moments on offense, it was the defense that made the difference. The press became the Tigers best friend and Wawasee’s worst enemy as it would play a big part in the 14 turnovers committed by the home team.
“I think the story of the game was the second quarter,” recalled Wawasee head coach Steve Wiktorowski. “We were getting the shots we wanted in the first quarter and we were down just five going into the second, then Warsaw picked up its press and we really struggled with that.
“We had been scoring better in the first quarter, the press really took us out of our offense. We also had some defensive breakdowns that were pretty unusual for us, they got some pretty easy baskets off of those breakdowns.”
The 63 points scored by Warsaw were by far the most given up by Wawasee so far this season. The previous high was 51 by Fairfield in the season opener.
Wawasee shot just 33-percent from the field, while Warsaw was an impressive 62-percent. Leading the scoring for the Tigers was Rashaan Jackson. The senior scored 16 points, getting most of those in the paint. Kyle Mangas was a real killer for the Warriors as he accounted for 14 points, including two threes.
Paul Marandet wasn’t the leader on offense, but he was the leader everywhere else. Marandet carried the Tigers with his line of 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He led the team in all of those categories, excluding points.
Wawasee ended up hitting five threes in total, but four of those came in the final quarter when the Warriors made one last push, cutting Warsaw’s lead to 14. Alex Clark hit three of those deep shots to help lead the team in scoring with 16 points. Gage Reinhard was the only other Warrior with double digits, scoring 14 points. Both Reinhard and Clark tied for the team lead with five boards.
Warsaw (5-1, 1-0) will host a tournament on December 27 while Wawasee (5-2, 0-1) will travel to Columbia City Tuesday night. The Warriros have now lost 22 consecutive NLC games.
Wawasee’s junior varsity team pulled out a tight a victory over Warsaw, winning 47-45. Cayden Wegener led all scorers with 16 points for Wawasee. Warsaw was led by Aaron Sandoval’s 13-point effort.