NEW CASTLE — It was a bittersweet day for Warsaw’s Kyle Mangas. The standout Tiger senior scored a total of 39 points in his two games at the 2016 City Securities Hall of Fame Classic, earning him all-tournament team honors. That effort helped Mangas eclipse the 1,000-point threshold for his career. Despite the milestone effort from Mangas, Warsaw dropped both games, 43-33 to No. 4 New Albany and 64-47 in the consolation game to No. 8 Lawrence North.
Mangas becomes just the 12th Warsaw Tiger all-time to reach the prestigious milestone. He joins Tiger legends Kevin Ault, Whitey Bell, Ron Brandenburg, Kim Essenburg, Jeff Grose, Marty Lehmann, Charlie McKenzie, Jason McKenzie, Nic Moore, Mike Niles and Steve Reed.
“I’m happy for Kyle,” began Warsaw head coach Doug Ogle. “He is a joy to coach. He joins an elite group that he very much deserves to be in. He’s in splendid company.”
Mangas was a lone bright spot for Warsaw’s otherwise sloppy offensive performance. He beat the buzzer to bring the Tigers within five, 20-15, after the first quarter. That clutch effort doubled as the milestone moment for the senior.
The Tigers trailed 33-24 at the half and 43-35 going into the fourth. With five minutes left in the game, the Tigers found themselves in a manageable whole, down 49-39. But Lawrence North went on a 7-0 run over the next 70 seconds to take control. Mike Saunders came up big for the Wildcats, hitting two threes in the final frame and three for the game. Saunders finished with 11 points.
The Wildcats were led offensively by Ra Kpedi’s 15 points. Kpedi completed a double-double effort with 13 rebounds. Antwaan Cushingberry was also in double figures with 11 points.
Mangas, who scored 13 against New Albany, increased his output in the contest with Lawrence North. The senior went off for 26 points against the state’s No. 8 team, 18 of which came in the second half. It was safe to say that that effort did not go unnoticed by Lawrence North head coach Jack Keefer.
“We couldn’t stop him. Holy crap, we gave one guy 26 (Mangas) and one guy 29 (Logansport’s Matt Jennings) today,” Keefer said bluntly.
“I think that was an invisible two,” Keefer said of Mangas’ jersey number. “Every time I’d call a timeout, I’d say everybody is guarding No. 2. But when they’d go back out there, only one guy would be guarding him. They couldn’t see that two on his chest.”
The 73-year old coach hit a milestone of his own Friday night. Keefer became just the fourth coach in state history to reach the 750-win milestone. He joins Jack Butcher (806), Pat Rady (761) and Bill Patrick (758).
The historic win was one that was definitely circled on Keefer’s calendar for weeks and weeks, right? Eh, not so much.
“I know they just told me I won 750, but I’m only the fourth person? I guess a lot of guys before me died before they got there then,” said Keefer with a laugh.
“Yeah, that’s kind of neat. I’m happy for that,” the coach said unconvincingly. “I wish it came one game earlier.”
Keefer, still trying to rid his mouth of the poor taste of Friday afternoon’s 53-51 loss to Logansport, was happy just to escape Warsaw.
“I swear to God they’ll just pass it 150 times if you didn’t tell them to shoot once in a while,” Keefer remarked. “It’s hard, when you don’t play that way, it’s hard to make yourself keep playing defense. I thought we gave up some jump shots to that No. 2. They just passed the ball too many times for us. But overall, I was telling the kids, I don’t think anybody has scored 60 points on that team this year. But, we just kept plugging away at it.”
The last team to score 60 or more points on Warsaw was South Bend Riley in last year’s regional semifinal, a 79-74 Tiger victory in double overtime. Riley only had 59 points, however, in regulation. To find the last time Warsaw had given up 60 points in four quarters of basketball, you would have to go back to Dec. 5 2014 when the Caleb Swanigan-led Homestead Spartans topped Warsaw 60-59 in Fort Wayne.
Warsaw’s defense is clearly not the problem, but ball control and offense are near the top of the list. The Wildcats scored 19 points off of Warsaw turnovers Friday night. It was the story of the game.
“It was the story of the day,” Ogle said, referencing his team’s turnovers earlier against New Albany. “Against this level of defensive pressure and athleticism, we’re just flat-out not good enough. We don’t have enough guys that can handle the ball. I can’t blame just one person. If you look through the team, the turnovers are pretty well spread out.
“We’ve got to make some real strides in our ball-handling and in our ability to function in a team offense. We don’t look like a basketball team at times. We don’t have a lot of great passers. It’s just a struggle. And these are good teams. Lawrence North is a good team. This is the first time (this season) we’ve been out-rebounded like this.”
Lawrence North won the battle on the boards 29-25 and had just six turnovers to Warsaw’s 12. Six Warsaw players committed turnovers, only four scored more than three points. Zach Riley was the team’s second-leading scorer with six points. Asher Blum added five for the Tigers.
Warsaw (6-4) hosts Northridge Jan. 6. Lawrence North improves to 7-2 overall and 7-1 all-time in Hall of Fame Classic competition.
New Albany topped Logansport 58-33 in the championship game. Romeo Langford of New Albany was named the tournament MVP. Joining Mangas and Langford on the all-tourney team were Jennings, Kpedi, Sean East (New Albany) and Jalen Adaway (Logansport).