TOPEKA — It was one of the grittiest efforts of the year for the Warriors. Actually, both sets of Warriors.
The Westview Warriors welcomed in the Wawasee Warriors Tuesday night for a boys basketball clash that ended up being very entertaining. Westview held the lead and was able to fight off Wawasee for the entire game to hang on for a 58-50 victory.
It was a toss up for Wawasee fans as to what to expect to see on the court for Tuesday’s game. Friday night their Warriors gave a great effort before falling to Goshen while Saturday night’s game had Wawasee showing its youth and inexperience in a loss at Mishakwaka.
It looked as if the latter would be showing its ugly head as Wawasee quickly fell behind 6-0 to start the game. After a timeout to get things figured out the visiting Warriors would go on to play an impressive game that required a lot of grit and perseverance.
56 fouls were called between the two teams Tuesday night. A number that is well above an average game. Five players in total fouled out, four from Westview and one from Wawasee.
Despite the constant stoppage of play and switching of lineups, both teams were able to push through. Wawasee hung around for the entirety of the game, one of its better performances from start to finish, and saw encouraging play from a host of players.
Perhaps none were more impressive than Tyler Smith. The junior led Wawasee with 17 points 14 of which came in the fourth quarter when his team desperately needed a boost. Smith converted three and-one opportunities in the frame to keep his team on the heels of Westview. Trevon Coleman rose above some sophomore mistakes early to score 13 points for the Warriors.
Smith and Coleman led a list of seven Warriors that would score at least once in the contest. A positive sign give the teams struggles offensively at times this season.Jairus Boyer (six points), Jayce Boatwright (six points), Cayden Wegener (four points), Chase Rookstool (three points) and Parker Hatfield (one point) rounded out the scoring for the visiting team.
Wawasee had Westview’s lead cut to 55-50 with 41 seconds remaining in the game but was unable to score another basket.
Both teams struggled with the large amount of fouls called in the game but the situation led to both coaches having to play much of their bench which allowed an opportunity for lesser known players to earn their stripes.
“We know we’ve got a deep enough bench that if a game is called that way that we can weather the storm,” said Wawasee assistant coach Ed Waltz. “In this game, tonight, it probably worked in our favor that it was called the way it was because Westview has a very shallow bench. But, Westview had kids step up and do what they needed to do to get around the lack of depth.”
The home team had nine of eleven players score against Wawasee. Elijah Hales led all players with 21 points.
Despite the loss Wawasee showed a fight in Tuesday’s game that has shown only a few times all season. There was a cohesiveness among the players that was easy to see and could be beneficial for the team moving forward.
“I’m so proud of how our kids competed tonight,” Waltz remarked. “We’ve turned a corner. These kids know, deep down, that they can compete. We’re going to continue to build.
“If they were going to win tonight, they had to believe they could. That’s the key. They believed tonight. We had to play a lot of kids and they all did nice things for us. Tyler (Smith) was an animal inside tonight. We finally saw how physical this game can be and we finally know not to back off.”
Wawasee head coach Steve Wiktorowski missed the game with back problems.
Wawasee (2-17) will look to snap six-game skid this Saturday at East Noble.
The Wawasee JV team fell to 12-7 following a 40-38 loss. Will Geer led the Warriors with nine points.