NAPPANEE — Like two ships passing in the night, the Wawasee Warriors and NorthWood Panthers met at The Pit Friday evening. Each team on its own mission that completely separated itself from the other. While the Warriors are searching for rhythm and identity under a new head coach, the Panthers sit on top of the polls in Class 3-A and are looking to collect some hardware this season. With a vast difference in talent and length, NorthWood had too many advantages and would walk away with a 59-33 win.
The Warriors tried to play keep away as well as they could from NorthWood throughout the game. That strategy worked best in the first half and allowed Wawasee to trail just 13-6 after the first quarter. Trevon Coleman had all six points for Wawasee in the opening frame but finished his night with just eight. Coleman had averaged 13.6 points per game coming into the contest.
Wawasee opened up the second quarter with a 3:13 possession that ended with no points. NorthWood’s Vinny Miranda nailed a three on the ensuing possession for the Panthers. Miranda scored seven in the frame, 14 in the half and led all scorers with 29 points. Wawasee’s Ben Hoffert knocked in two threes for the Warriors before half to keep things manageable at 26-14.
Coming out of the break it was all NorthWood. The Panthers opened the half on a 12-3 run behind two threes each from Luke Zurcher and Miranda. Hoffert added three more rainmakers to his total but NorthWood was well in control 49-27 going into the fourth. Hoffert ended the night with 15 points to lead Wawasee.
The fourth quarter saw more of the same as the Panthers would close out the win. Zurcher scored 14 for the Panthers while Lung added another 10. NorthWood moves to 9-0 overall and 2-0 in the NLC. With all of their goals still in front of them, the Panthers are taking things one game at a time.
“I thought we were fortunate to make some perimeter shots tonight,” said NorthWood head coach Aaron Wolfe. “I think that catapulted us, or gave us a boost when we needed to separate the score. I thought our guys did a nice job being patient defensively and did well in transition.
“I think our guys have done a nice job of worrying about the next game and staying in the moment. For our team, we need to improve. I think every player in our program is aware of that. I think as long as we continue to have that mindset, we have an opportunity to get better.”
NorthWood won the rebound battle 20-16 with Trey Bilinski having a game-high four rebounds. Wawasee had five players with two rebounds each. Both teams were far from impressive at the line as the Warriors were 3-8 while NorthWood was 8-14. NorthWood scored 23 points off of turnovers and added 17 second chance points to help fuel its victory.
Wawasee still finds itself chasing conference powers NorthWood and Warsaw, but with both teams out of the way early, the Warriors are happy with where they are heading into the second half of the season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Everingham said. “We’ve got a great bunch, they’re really good kids. It’s hard to call them out and tell them that Tuesday (at DeKalb) was a disaster. We came out flat in that game. There was no energy, no energy on the bench. It was as bad as it could get Tuesday night. So we really spent the last couple of days just talking about intangibles. Things that you have to have in order to even compete.
“I’m real proud of our guys, we weren’t real focused on the scoreboard tonight. We had to make sure we had it inside of us to compete after some tough losses recently. We had to come out and play hard and with a high level of energy and I thought we did that tonight. In terms of turning around this basketball program, tonight was a big step for us.”
Wawasee (4-6, 0-2) travels to Memorial on Friday night. NorthWood hosts New Prairie Tuesday evening.
NorthWood used a 15-0 advantage in the third quarter to win the JV contest 50-30. Nick Bean led the Panthers with 12 points while Austin Miller led Wawasee with 11.