WARSAW – Ink Free News’ picks for the top five teams for the sporting 2015-16 season.
5. Déjà Vu All Over Again – Denzel Washington figured out the code on how to travel back in time and reverse the course of history in the movie Deja Vu. Warsaw, while not discovering a time portal, did manage to take a moment in history and rework it in its favor.
The girls cross country team, still steaming from a heartbreaking 2014 runner-up finish in the Northern Lakes Conference meet to Northridge, was able to flip the script on the Raiders in nearly identical fashion. Ridge won the 2014 meet by one point, jostling with Warsaw at the finish line to steal the title. In the 2015 version, Warsaw wedged itself with Ridge down the final stretch to win the meet by one point and avenge a lot of offseason jealousy.
That win would set into motion a fine run in the state tournament, where Warsaw was a runaway winner in both the sectional and regional tournaments at Culver Academy. Warsaw would place fifth at the semi-state and then 12th at the state finals, led by All-State runner Mia Beckham, the regional champion and 20th overall at the state finals. Allison Miller was the sectional champion and Anna Craig was the regional runner-up.
4. Tigers Run Wild – The Warsaw boys track program had another season of collecting plenty of hardware.
Coach Matt Thacker’s team claimed its sixth straight Northern Lakes Conference Meet title and then followed that up with a sixth straight sectional crown at Goshen before winning its third regional championship in the last four years on its home track. The Tigers also posted another undefeated season at 9-0, including stretching their win streak in NLC dual meets to 41 in a row dating back to 2011.
Warsaw had a contingent of seniors Owen Glogovsky, Ross Armey and Tommy Hickerson compete in the State Finals in Bloomington. Glogovsky finished in sixth place in the 1,600 to reach the awards podium. Armey was 12th in the 300 hurdles and Hickerson 25th in the long jump. The 4 X 100 relay team of Armey, Brandon Reinholt, Rane Kilburn and Will McGarvey were disqualified at the state meet.
3. The New Normal – In 2014-15 the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team captivated a community with a run to its first-ever state finals game. It was a fairy tale and the team would have to get back to reality this year. Well, as it turned out, the reality was that Valley was just getting started.
The Lady Vikes posted 25 wins for the second-consecutive year, going 25-2 overall. They once again ran the table in the Three Rivers Conference, and that’s putting it lightly. Valley won its conference games, respectively, by margins of 33, 46, 38, 24, 10, 39, 41 and 27 points. That’s jaw-dropping.
Valley rode the dominance of junior stud Anne Secrest, who averaged 16.7 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game. The expectation was there for Secrest, but Meredith Brouyette showed she was more than just a dangerous three-point threat.
Hannah Dunn emerged as a beautiful compliment to the rest of the team and even took games over by herself at times. Brynda Krueger and Karis Tucker developed from role players into full-blown starters that created problems for teams while Sophie Bussard and Addy Miller showed that the future is still bright for this program. This team was not as good as the team that went to state, it was better.
Valley rolled through the sectional once more and defeated Fort Wayne Concordia in the first game of the regional. It was going to take one heck of a blow to knock this team off its feet and there was probably only one other team capable of doing it. Heritage Christian ended the run by Valley in the regional championship and would go on to win state. For the second year in a row, Valley was left with a bitter taste in its mouth. And for the second year in a row we all got to ride the wave of success with the ladies from Akron.
So, now it’s back to reality before the start of next season. Not for the Lady Vikings, they know what they’re going to do, but for anyone else still ignoring the new normal.
2. More Banners For Tiger Town – While the endgame is not necessarily panning out for the Warsaw girls track team, they are getting awfully close. The Lady Tigers didn’t land a top-five at the IHSAA State Finals, but had two relays make the podium with top-ten finishes and four others within the top 15 in Bloomington.
Warsaw continued to dominate at the local level, crushing Northern Lakes Conference opponents to extend its conference dual win streak to 54, winning yet another NLC tournament team title (11 in a row), and then collecting its 10th straight sectional and fifth straight regional titles along the way.
Within the team success, Audrey Rich claimed hold of the 200-meter dash record with a 25.44 and the 4×400 relay team of Maygan Bellamy, Remi Beckham, Sam Alexander and Rich wrapped up a school record at the state finals with a time of 3:57.31, taking 11th place in the state.
At the state finals, the 4×100 relay was seventh, the 4×800 was ninth, Alexander was 11th in long jump, Rich 15th in the 100 and Mia Beckham was 11th in the one-mile and 20th in the two-mile. The Lady Tigers wound up with just four team points at the state finals, tied for 49th with a handful of teams.
1. Basketball Bliss – The Warsaw boys basketball team treated its adoring fan base to some kind of season.
Coach Doug Ogle’s Tigers started the year is historic fashion by winning their first 20 games and never slowed down until reaching the Class 4-A semistate game. Warsaw saw its fabulous 25-2 season end with a 40-37 loss to McCutcheon at Lafayette Jefferson. Warsaw, led by its outstanding backcourt duo of junior Kyle Mangas and senior Paul Marandet, posted the most wins since 1996. The team’s lone regular-season loss was a 36-33 final to Carmel in the Tiger Den.
The Tigers were at their best in close games and in the big games. Warsaw was a perfect 5-0 in overtime contests and dominated host NorthWood 51-35 in Nappanee in a battle of the two premier teams in the Northern Lakes Conference. The Panthers went on to go 24-3 and win a Class 3-A sectional title before losing to eventual state champion Marion 66-62 in a regional final at Marion.
Warsaw won the Class 4-A Elkhart Sectional title by downing Penn, coached by former Tiger boss Al Rhodes, 52-31 and then edging host Elkhart Central 38-35 in the championship game on a three-point play by Mangas with 1,6 seconds to play. The Tigers then beat South Bend Riley 79-74 in double overtime with Marandet scoring 37 points and Crown Point 46-33 to win the Michigan City Regional. It was the program’s first regional title since 2010.
The Tigers boasted three senior starters in Marandet, Riley Rhoades and Evan Schmidt. Juniors Mangas and Jeremy David rounded out the starting five with the likes of sophomore Ross Johnson and juniors Jaceb Burish and Braxton Minix playing key roles off the bench.
The calling card for Warsaw was its outstanding team defense, The Tigers allowed just 39.5 points-per-game, which was the second best defensive average in the state.
Ogle reached a milestone during the season as a home win over NLC and county rival Wawasee in December was his 200th as Warsaw’s head coach. The Purdue graduate and longtime assistant under Rhodes, is now 218-101 in his 14 seasons as head coach of the Tigers. Ogle was honored by his peers as the IBCA District I Coach of the Year following the fantastic season.