WARSAW – The South Bend St. Joseph’s girls basketball team was as good as advertised Tuesday night.
The undefeated Indians were clicking on all cylinders to best host Warsaw 65-40 in the championship contest of the Teacher’s Credit Union Lady Tiger Classic.
St. Joe, ranked No. 10 among all schools statewide in the latest IBCA poll, were a fine-tuned machine in improving to 13-0 on the season.
Coach Ric Mauch’s Indians bolted to a 17-3 lead in the fist six minutes and never were challenged in the contest. St. Joe was also ranked No. 2 in the latest Class 3-A poll by the ICGSA.
Warsaw, which had won its own tourney title each of the past two years, falls to 7-6 on the season.
The guard trio of seniors Michelle Weaver and Madeline Raster and sophomore Daly Sullivan were simply sensational for the champions. The trio shot, passed and played pressure defense to near perfection.
Weaver, who will play at Butler, had a game-high 20 points on 7-8 shooting from the field. The tourney MVP also has six rebounds, five assists and five steals in a stat-stuffer performance.
Raster, who is headed to play at Harvard, had 16 points to go with three assists and four steals.
Sullivan finished with 13 points for the Indians,
St. Joe, which went 16-5 last season, entered the game averaging 71 points-per-game and allowing just 39.
Senior Vicki Harris led Warsaw with eight points. Erin Clemens scored seven, Page Desenberg six and Dayton Groninger five for the hosts.
St. Joe shot a sizzling 15-25 from the field, including 4-10 on 3-pointers, in building a 43-19 halftime lead. Weaver scored 18 points, Sullivan 11 and Raster 10 in the opening half.
The Tigers simply ran into a buzz saw on this night. St. Joe used its pressure defense to turn turnovers into layups with crisp passing.
“I thought we came out at the start and played timid and scared,” said Warsaw coach Michelle Harter. “They had us on our heels right from the start. Our defense did not step up tonight. We were a step slow.
“Will we dwell on this game? No. We will learn from it though. We are a good team and I told our girls that. They have to come out and play that way and play with confidence regardless of the opponent.
“I thought that we continued to play hard and hustle and that says a lot about our girls.
“Team wise (along with Noblesville) this is the best team we have played this season. They are good. You can see why those two (Weaver and Raster) are Division I players. They are intelligent, can shoot, can pass and can play defense.”
Warsaw did out rebound the Indians 25-22 with Pam Miller leading the Tigers with five. Warsaw did have 17 turnovers to just nine for the Indians.
The 65 points allowed by Warsaw was a season high. The Tigers entered tourney play Tuesday allowing just 40 points-per-game.
Weaver was the MVP of the tournament. The all-tourney team also included Raster, Sullivan, Harris of Warsaw, Brianna Adams of Perry Meridian and Hunter Jusevitch of Lowell.
Perry Meridian hung on to defeat Lowell 55-48 in the consolation game Tuesday night.
Warsaw returns to action Friday at Triton for a girls/boys varsity doubleheader with the girls game first at 6 p.m. The Tigers then host LaPorte Saturday night for another girls/ boys varsity doubleheader, which will also start with the girls game at 6 p.m.
St. Joe plays at Fort Wayne Wayne Saturday afternoon. The Indians then host powerful Penn in a huge Northern Indiana Conference game on Jan. 8.