COLUMBIA CITY — The holidays are coming at the right time for the Wawasee boys basketball team. The Warriors were looking to rebound from Friday’s loss to rival Warsaw with a game against a struggling Columbia City squad Tuesday night. However, Donald S. Weeks Gymnasium offered no solace for the Warriors as offensive struggles plagued the team from the start. The Eagles would fly away with a 52-34 victory.
“We just didn’t do enough good things tonight,” said Wawasee head coach Jon Everingham. “I thought we got some looks that we probably could’ve hit.”
Wawasee found itself buried in the first quarter as City opened up on a 10-0 run. The Warriors struggled to find shots, and when they did, they simply were not falling, both trends continued throughout the game. The visiting team was heading straight for a goose egg in the first quarter offensively before Ryan Edington provided five points off the bench in the final minutes. The Eagles led 12-5 after one, 24-14 at the half and 35-20 after three before finally closing out the victory.
The biggest challenge for Wawasee entering Tuesday’s game was finding a way to contain 6’7″ Parker Hazen. The senior is known for his game-wrecking ability, following in the footsteps of his brother, Brachen, who now plays at Arkansas. The younger Hazen has a Division 1 pedigree of his own as he is committed to play at Valparaiso next year.
Despite being a walking mismatch for the Warriors, and most teams, Hazen was nearly invisible on the court in Tuesday’s contest. Wawasee held the big man to three points, all on free throws, and forced him to foul out midway through the fourth quarter. But with all the attention being put, successfully, on Hazen, City was able to find other options to get its baskets.
“Really, I think the story comes down to their guard play versus our guard play, (Jordan) Bechtold getting in the lane as much as he did,” said Everingham of City’s starting guard. “We did a great job on Hazen. But we’re taking a guy off of 44 (Hammad Qureshi) to play on the backside of Hazen, so it’s kind like picking your poison. If you don’t contain penetration and you’re backing off of an inside guy, it’s a recipe for disaster. We didn’t contain penetration very well tonight.”
Qureshi proved to be the poison of choice for the Warriors. The usually quiet junior was anything but silent for the Eagles on Tuesday. Qureshi was seemingly in on every play and would end up scoring 21 points on the night, tied with Bechtold for a game-high. Qureshi was a perfect 9-9 from the floor and went 3-4 from the line while also bringing in five rebounds. The junior was loving the spotlight in a game where his team needed a big-time performance. Qureshi’s emotions got the best of him, however, when he was given a technical foul for taunting a Wawasee player in the fourth quarter. But, the damage was done.
Wawasee was never able to string together a run and suffered without being able to get the ball inside.
“We were a little stagnant,” Everingham said of his team’s offensive performance. “I’m from the school that if you’re not hitting your shots, you’ve got to find better ones. We failed to get the ball inside to Trevon (Coleman). We’ve got to get the ball in his hands a little bit more. He’s been a very consistent player for us. But we’re really struggling having the confidence to throw that post feed. It’s something we’ve got to work on”
Coleman spent much of the first half waving his arms feverishly under the basket, hoping any teammate could make a pass underneath, but City was not allowing the ball inside. Coleman finished with 15 points to lead the Warriors, his seventh double-figure effort in as many games. Edington had eight for Wawasee while Jairus Boyer finished with five. Jacob Hand led Wawasee with thee rebounds.
Wawasee (4-3) will look to rest and regroup over the holiday before next Tuesday’s game at Marian.
“I’m still very pleased with where we’re at,” Everigham explained. “I like how we’ve progressed. Obviously the last two games let us know that we still have a long way to go.”
City improves to 2-5 and will play in the Columbia City/Huntington Tournament next weekend.
Wawasee won the JV game 54-47 to move to 6-1 on the year. Austin Miller led the way for Wawasee with 17 points.