WARSAW – The Warsaw boys basketball program has always been about winning championships.
This year’s edition of the Tigers will get a chance come Friday night to lay claim to yet another title in historic fashion.
Warsaw will try and become the first team in the long and storied tradition of the Northern Lakes Conference to go undefeated for three straight seasons.
The Tigers can etch their names into the league history books with a win at Plymouth in the NLC finale for the 2016-17 campaign. Warsaw takes a 13-6 overall and mark and its perfect 6-0 NLC record into the league contest. The host Pilgrims sit at 11-7 overall and 2-4 in conference action.
Warsaw, whose last NLC loss was to Plymouth 38-31 in the final league game of the 2013-14 season way back on Feb. 13, 2014, is trying to be the second team in league history to win three straight outright championships. Concord, led by Shawn Kemp, won three straight NLC titles from 1986-88. The Minutemen were 20-1 over that stretch in conference play with just a 65-64 loss at Plymouth during the 1986-87 season. Concord was also state runner-up in 1988 during Kemp’s senior season.
The Tigers and the Pilgrims have both been off since posting NLC wins on Thursday night. Warsaw beat Elkhart Memorial 63-49 at home as Kyle Mangas scored 20 points and Braxton Minix had his best game of the season with 16 points. Plymouth posted a 68-65 win over Goshen as senior star Nick Felke led the way with 19 points.
Warsaw, which beat Plymouth 46-30 last season in the Tiger Den, is led by Mangas. The 6-3 senior star is averaging 21.8 points-per-game. Mangas also leads his team in rebounding (5.6), assists (2.4) and steals (1.7) while shooting 49 percent from the field and 86 percent from the free throw line. The Indiana Wesleyan University recruit is also tops on the team from 3-point land at 42-98.
Mangas has been simply stellar in the last 10 games for coach Doug Ogle’s veteran roster. He has scored 20 or more points in the last 10 contests. Mangas now sits in sixth place all-time in program history with 1,231 career points. He is just 17 points away from tying Steve Reed for fifth place on the all-time list. Reed. a 1977 grad, played at Indiana State.
The Pilgrims are led by Felke. The senior guard is averaging 15.9 points-per-contest and became the 13th player in program history to score 1,000 points versus Mishawaka on Jan. 28. Felke is now at 1,027 points for his outstanding prep career.
Warsaw has won five conference championships under coach Ogle. Ogle is now 231-107 in his 15th season in charge of the program.
The Tigers have clinched at least a share of the conference crown. Warsaw sits atop the league standings at 6-0. NorthWood is second at 5-1, followed by Northridge (4-2), Elkhart Memorial (4-2), Plymouth (2-4), Concord (2-4), Goshen (1-5) and Wawasee (0-6).
The NLC schedule on Friday night to wrap up league play also has NorthWood at Memorial, Northridge at Concord and Wawasee at Goshen.
Warsaw will host non-conference foe Merrillville on Saturday. That matchup will begin with the junior varsity game at 3 p.m. with the varsity tilt to follow. The game time was changed due to the Merrillville girls basketball team playing in the Class 4-A LaPorte Regional on Saturday.
Merrillville is 13-6 on the season heading into a home game Friday night versus Duneland Conference foe LaPorte.