WARSAW — It was just another day at the office for the Warsaw boys basketball team when Memorial came to town Thursday evening. The Tigers extended their Northern Lakes Conference record winning streak to 20 games and claimed a share of their third=straight league title following a 63-49 unplugging of the visiting Chargers.
The third quarter was the charm for Warsaw as the the Tigers blew open the doors in the game with a strong showing in the third period. Warsaw led 30-20 at the half, thanks to a terrific three-point, buzzer-beating make from Kyle Mangas. The Tigers rode the momentum of his big shot through the third by outscoring Memorial 17-7 in the frame. A competitive game went by the wayside after the half thanks to some improved play from Warsaw and an impressive, though temporary disappearing act from Memorial.
“We had some good passing, good interior passing,” said Warsaw head coach Doug Ogle of team’s performance. “We took advantage, quite a few times, of our size. (Braxton) Minix is way way bigger than anybody for them. We had such a big big working margin in the third. We had a bad stretch in the fourth where Memoral got it back to 10. If we’re only up 14, then that stretch would have them down only four. We were determined to get the game in hand. We’re up 10, we played well and did not let them come back in the third. If anything, we were just determined to not let them back in the game in the third quarter.”
Memorial did get things down to 10 in the fourth, but Warsaw’s relentless efforts in the third proved to be enough to help secure the win. Of course, those efforts were greatly fueled by two big offensive outpourings from Mangas and Minix.
Mangas had a game-high 20 points, his 10th straight contest with at least 20. The Tigers are 7-3 during this stretch of scoring prowess from the future Wesleyan Wildcat. Minix, meanwhile, had a season-high 16 points on 8-9 shooting and added six rebounds and three assists off the bench.
“I thought tonight was his best night in terms of not rushing,” said Ogle of Minix’s play. “He took his time, he’s had a lot of those opportunities in early games, but rushed the issue. But tonight he was very poised. I’m happy for him to have a game like that.”
Jeremy David added nine points and nine rebounds for the Tigers. Memorial as led offensively by Hank Smith’s 16 points and another 15 from Jose Soto.
The win means that the worst Warsaw can do is tie for the NLC crown. While some might confusingly downplay the importance of a conference championship, Ogle and his boys are fired up for the chance to claim an outright title next Friday at Plymouth.
“This year we had three opportunities to win championships,” Ogle explained. “One was the Hall of Fame (Classic), one was the conference and the other is the sectional. We didn’t win the Hall of Fame, so now our next opportunity to win a team championship is the conference and then the sectional.
“Our attitude is that the Northern Lakes Conference has a very storied history. You go back to the Scott Skiles years, the teams that Concord had, the team’s that we’ve had, Elkhart Memorial has been several times since joining. I would say that we value it a lot. We want to win the conference, so it’s a big deal to our players and to us.”
Warsaw (13-6, 6-0) tips against Plymouth next Friday at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Warsaw squeaked by in the JV game 39-37.