WAWASEE — Sometimes the challenge isn’t simply to win a game. When your opponent is totally overmatched, sometimes the challenge is to continue to make progress. Such was the case for Wawasee’s girls basketball team in its Plymouth Classic morning game with Brebeuf Jesuit Saturday.
After scoring 10 unanswered points to start the game, it became apparent quickly that the young Lady Braves (2-9) were no match for the Warriors. Wawasee head coach Matt Carpenter still wanted his players to use the game as an opportunity to get better, though. The Warriors (8-6) did just that, playing multiple defenses, running some uncharacteristic offenses and generally building to a 63-12 win.
“The challenge as a coach is you don’t want to take away your aggressiveness from your players so instead you change some schematical things you want to do. You may say ‘Hey, we’re going to sit back and play some half court man,’ but you don’t want to reign them in from being able to look for scoring opportunities off of some turnovers and things like that,” explained Carpenter after the game. “We also talked about making sure we played good, fundamental defense. I didn’t want them lunging and getting in some bad habits. Brebeuf with three or four freshmen out on the floor right here, they need a chance to get better and handle the ball. I wanted to make sure that we weren’t creating bad habits for ourselves. I thought the girls did a pretty good job with that from halftime on. It took us a little bit to get going, but we woke up.”
Wawasee did indeed score a lot of points off of Brebeuf turnovers, capitalizing on 34 giveaways for 27 points off turnovers on the way to the win. In fact, the Warriors flustered the Braves into making more turnovers than attempted shots (22).
Senior guard Aubrey Kuhn was personally responsible for much of that carnage, scoring 13 of her career-high 22 points off of Brebeuf mistakes. Junior Casey Schroeder finished with 14 points, meanwhile, and senior Hannah-Marie Lamle and junior Caitlin Wortinger finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively, in a balanced effort by the Warriors’ starting lineup.
“Really, we want to be balanced offensively as a unit. We feel like we’ve got four or five girls we can put on the floor that can get us eight to 12 points apiece and then you get a certain day where one of them goes off and feels it or is able to get in rhythm and can put up 15 to 16,” Carpenter said. “Aubrey Kuhn does create a lot off her defense. She anticipates well defensively, so if you’re not careful against her she’ll sit in some passing lanes and pick some things like that and finish. As a point guard she also has the job of distributing to her teammates, and I felt like today as a team we did a nice job of sharing the basketball and getting some movement. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Wawasee’s players tallied a total of 14 assists — led by Kabrea Rostochak’s three — while knocking down 23 of 51 (46 percent) shots. Already holding a 26-6 cushion at halftime, the Warriors started running some new stuff on the offensive end while looking for greater offensive efficiency in the second half. They scored on 12 of 20 (60 percent) shots from the floor after the break. And they flat out dominated on the boards, too, hauling in 11 rebounds to just three by the Braves to finish with a 29-16 rebounding advantage for the game.
“We did want to shore up our efficiency. We wanted to make sure we didn’t turn the ball over. We wanted to dominate the boards, and we wanted to get the ball in the paint and create scoring opportunities off of some paint touches,” said Carpenter of his second-half goals. “When we do that, we’re a lot better shooting the ball from the perimeter when we go inside out.”
Brebeuf was led offensively by freshman Johanna McNair’s five points and four from Elle Born as the Braves scuffled to a 6-of-22 shooting clip.
NORWELL 47, PLYMOUTH 34
Host Plymouth fell behind in the first half on the way to a loss to Norwell as the Knights jumped out to a 29-19 halftime lead and held on for the win.
Freshman Maiah Shelton scored 11 points over the first two periods to help Norwell (9-4) to its double-digit halftime cushion but was held silent in the second half. Fellow frosh Kaylee Fuelling scored seven during a 16-7 second quarter on her way to a game-high 14 points, and the Knights got a third player in double figures with junior Aubrey Dunnuck’s 10 points.
The Pilgrims (6-7) weren’t able to benefit from as much offensive balance, however, as sophomore Claire Tanner scored 13 points at home at The Rock. Alli Andrews put up just five points in an uncharacteristically low scoring performance, while Halle Reichard finished with a single basket and two points in another atypically low offensive output.
Plymouth was whistled for 19 fouls, and Norwell converted 12 of 20 free throws compared to a 7-of-10 performance by the Pilgrims at the stripe on their home floor.
NORWELL 52, WAWASEE 44
The Lady Warriors were tied 25-all at halftime with Norwell but couldn’t quite make it 2-0 at Saturday’ s shootout as they were outscored 27-19 in the second half of their night game.
The Knights (10-4) did much of their damage at the free throw line as they made 12 of 17 charity tosses in the second half to finish the night 13 of 22 from the stripe.
Schroeder led Wawasee (8-7) with 14 points and four rebounds in the game, while Kuhn put up 12 points, and Rostochak scored seven of her nine points in the second half.
Logan Rowels put up 16 points, and Dunnuck scored 13 for Norwell.
“Norwell was able to capitalize on too many of our miscues. We battled back in the fourth quarter after a sluggish third quarter, but Norwell was able to seal it going 8 for 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter,” stated Carpenter. “We showed growth through our two games today and will look to utilize this during a busy January.”
Wawasee will resume play with a Northern Lakes Conference game at NorthWood next Saturday.