The Northern Lakes Conference girls basketball championship will not be won or lost Saturday night at Northridge.
The outcome of the Warsaw at Northridge clash will go a long way to determining that title though.
The pair of powers, both ranked in the Coaches’ Poll, have proven to be the top teams in the league thus far in the 2016-17 campaign.
Warsaw takes a 15-1 overall mark into the showdown thanks to a 10-game winning streak. Coach Michelle Harter’s veteran team’s lone loss was a 40-37 setback at Class 2-A No. 1 Whitko back on Nov. 25.
Northridge sits at 18-1 and owners of the most wins of any girls hoops team in the state. Coach Doug Springer’s team has won six in a row since dropping a 50-44 final to Class 4-A defending state champion Penn at home on Dec. 13.
The outstanding matchup will feature a pair of teams known for defense. The Raiders are allowing just 37 points-per-game, while the Tigers give up just 38 points-per-outing.
Warsaw has been led by its outstanding senior class. Senior guard Dayton Groninger leads the way at 16.6 points-per-game. The Indiana Wesleyan University recruit also averages a team-high 8.9 rebounds-per-game. Senior Madi Graham has upped her game in a big way in recent weeks and is averaging 11.1 ppg. Groninger and Graham each have 28 treys to lead their team from long distance. Senior Page Desenberg averages 5.9 and sophomore Kacy Bragg 5.3.
The Raiders are led by junior Brooke McKinley. The guard is averaging 14.9 points-per-game and has a team-high 43 treys. McKinley, who has committed to Grand Valley State University, earned MVP honors in leading her team to four wins and the championship of their own Bankers Classic Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29-30. Senior Marci Miller (10.6), senior Kelsey Brickner (9.7) and sophomore Morgan Litwiller (8.7) are other keys for the Raiders.
Warsaw, which is coming off a 52-28 win at Wabash Wednesday night, sits at 1-0 in NLC play with a win over Plymouth (61-44). The Tigers last NLC title came during the 2012-13 season when they finished 6-1 in league play.
Northridge, which defeated Warsaw 46-25 last season, is 3-0 in league action. The Raiders own wins over Concord (64-16), Wawasee (50-41) and Goshen (40-33).
The Tigers, who are ranked No. 17 in the Coaches’ Poll, average 52 points-per-game. The No. 16 Raiders score at a 55 point-per-game clip.
Northridge has won two of the last three conference titles, including a year ago when they posted a 7-0 mark during a 21-5 season.
Warsaw still has NLC games at Elkhart Memorial (Jan. 11), at Concord (Jan. 21) and at NorthWood (Jan. 26). The Tigers also host Goshen (Jan. 14) and Wawasee (Jan. 19) in league contests.
Northridge has conference games left at NorthWood (Jan. 14) and at Plymouth (Jan. 26) and a home game versus Elkhart Memorial (Jan. 20).
The Tigers and the Raiders will also be in the same seven-team Class 4-A Sectional next month, which also includes Penn, Elkhart Memorial, Elkhart Central, Goshen and Concord.