WARSAW – Warsaw’s “bigs” lived up to their moniker with a huge performance Friday night.
The Tigers had the most in the post in overpowering Northridge 68-46 in a Northern Lakes Conference boys basketball matchup.
Warsaw’s three-headed monster of Jeremy David, Braxton Minix and Jaceb Burish dominated the paint in impressive fashion as the Tigers rolled past the Raiders.
Warsaw, which has now won four in a row and eight of the last nine versus the Raiders, improves to 7-4 overall and 2-0 in the NLC. Northridge drops to 3-5 overall and goes to 1-1 in league play.
Senior star Kyle Mangas led the way for the winners with another outstanding effort, including a team-high 22 points. Mangas, who went over 1,000 career points last week in the Hall of Fame Classic, went 9-13 from the field. The do-it-all standout also had seven rebounds and three assists.
But it was the play of senior forwards David, Minix and Burish that told the tale on this night.
The trio was terrific in combining for 34 points and 17 rebounds in the dominating win. The 6-4 chiseled David had 14 points and nine rebounds, while the 6-7 Minix was sensational with 12 points and six rebounds off the bench and there 6-2 Burish added eight points and two caroms.
The trio, which came into play Friday night averaging a combined total of 11.2 points-per-game, went 14-22 from the field on the night.
“What has been missing for us is post scoring and tonight was a real step forward for us,” said Warsaw coach Doug Ogle. “We have been emphasizing in practice that we have to be aggressive in the basket area and tonight was a good start in that area.
“Our posts through 10 games were averaging just four free throws per game. We did a better job seeing inside tonight and at lot of good came out of it.
“Jeremy David was as aggressive tonight as I have seen him. We should be able to build off this with him from a confidence standpoint. I hope that when we look at the game that we can find him one more rebound for a double-double. I asked him at one point tonight was he “Biggie” Swanigan (in reference to Purdue power forward and double-double machine Caleb Swanigan).”
“Braxton Minix had a good game for us too. To get 34 points from Jeremy, Braxton and Jaceb was a big step forward for us tonight.”
The Tigers dominated the glass with their size to the tune of a 34-19 rebounding edge. The hosts had 15 offensive rebounds and a 21-3 edge in second-chance points.
“That’s the strength of our team, rebounding, especially offensive rebounding,” noted Ogle of his team’s dominance on the glass versus the smaller Raiders.
Warsaw, which raced to a 9-2 lead to open the game, trailed just once at 17-16 at the 5:45 mark of the second period after a jumper by Luke Morrison. Morrison, who scored a game-high 25 points, had 12 of his team’s points at the stretch before Ogle took a timeout.
The Tigers blitzed the Raiders with an 11-0 run to close the half after Ogle’s smart timeout with 5:39 to play in the opening half. Warsaw led 29-20 at intermission as Mangas had 12 points and Minix 10.
“The timeout was to address that our focus on Morrison was not good enough defensively,” noted Ogle. “We talked about guarding him as our main thing tonight and I was disappointed up until then in our team’s lack of attention on him. We were too soft defensively on him.”
Warsaw blew the game open with a big third period. David powered in nine points and Mangas added six as Warsaw built its lead to 48-32 at the end of the third quarter.
“For about 10 minutes there I’m not sure what happened,” said Northridge coach Ronnie Thomas referring to the second and third quarters. “We focused a lot on number 2 (Mangas) and David and Minix hurt us. We reacted too slow in our rotations and did not communicate well.
“We waited to see what was going to happen tonight and you can’t do that against a good team like Warsaw. Luke kept us in the game, but we need others to step up for us. Mangas is just in control. He has a feel for not only his teammates, but his opponent. He’s impressive to watch and I’m glad that he’s a senior.”
Warsaw shot 28-50 from the field, including a scorching 16-23 in the second half. Northridge was just 15-44 from the field, including 8-32 in the second half. The Raiders were 4-19 from 3-point land.
Nolan Groninger had four points for the Tigers. Sam Miller scored three points, while Zach Riley and Shane Powers each had two and Jack Grose one.
Morrison, who was averaging 18.4 points-per-game, hit 9-21 shots, including 4-10 from distance. Conner Utley had eight points for the Raiders.
Warsaw played for the first time without Ross Johnson. The junior guard, who had started the first 10 games and was second on the team at 5.6 points-per-game, left the team earlier in the week. He has enrolled at Triton High School.
“Ross came to me Wednesday and told me that he had decided not to be on the team any more,” said Ogle. “He told me that basketball was not fun for him any more.”
Warsaw won the junior varsity game 56-40. Jaylen Reese scored 16 points to pace the winners. Landen Ferber had 13 points and Trevor Rumple 10 for the Tigers. Camden Knepp had 14 points and Alex Stauffer 12 to lead the Raiders.
Warsaw plays at Goshen in NLC action next Friday night. Northridge hosts East Noble for a non-conference contest on Tuesday night.