WARSAW – Kyle Mangas and Paul Marandet, as teammates, did a lot of special things on the basketball court.
The pair of former Warsaw stars, as individuals, are doing a lot of special things now on the hardwood in the tough Crossroads League.
The dynamic duo, come Saturday afternoon, will share a special moment when they face off for the first time in a long, long time.
The two friends will become foes, at least for a couple of hours, when Mangas leads his No. 7 Indiana Wesleyan team into the SAU Fieldhouse to face Marandet’s No. 13 Spring Arbor squad in a key conference clash.
“I have thought about it,” said freshman guard Mangas of facing his old backcourt running mate. “It was special playing with Paul. We had a great run in high school. It’s going to be different playing against him. It will be interesting.”
Mangas and Marandet posted a 43-7 mark for the Tigers their final two seasons together. The pair went 14-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference and led coach Doug Ogle’s team to a Class 4-A semistate appearance in 2016. The 2015-16 team went 25-2 during Marandet’s senior season, the most wins by the Tigers since 1996.
Marandet, a star sophomore guard for the Cougars, remembers well the only time that he faced off versus Mangas. The pair were in elementary school with Marandet at Washington and Mangas at Harrison.
“We (Washington) won both times we played them,” recalled Marandet with a slight chuckle in a phone interview Wednesday. “I scored my career high at the time of 27 against them in the championship game of the elementary tournament.”
Mangas led the Tigers to a 18-10 mark last season, including another 7-0 finish in the NLC and another sectional title, and went on to earn a spot on the Indaiana All-Star team last summer. The 6-3 guard is averaging a team-high 21.4 points-per-game currently in a fabulous freshman season and scored 40 points last Saturday in an overtime win at Saint Francis.
Marandet, who was considered the defensive stopper for the Tigers, is impressed, but not surprised by what Mangas is doing in one of the top small school basketball conferences in the country.
“Kudos to Kyle,” said Marandet. “I’m not too surprised with the scoring numbers that he is putting up. I told my coach here before the season that he would average 18 a game.
“He’s a gifted scorer. No. 1 he has size and length and he’s a good finisher. But he’s also really good at moving without the ball and just has a knack for getting open.”
Mangas has plenty of praise for his former partner. Marandet, a 6-0 guard, leads his team in scoring at 18.7 points-per-game and is averaging six assists per contest. He scored 21 points last Saturday to help his team earn a conference win in overtime in a Homecoming game at Grace College.
“Paul is just having a great year and putting up huge numbers,” Mangas said. “His game has come really far and he has really expanded it. He’s one of the best players in our league for sure.”
Marandet earned All-League Freshman first-team honors last season as he stepped right in as a difference maker for the Cougars.
Marandet and Mangas, who both were named earlier this week to the Top 100 Watch List for the Bevo Francis Award, fondly recall their time spent as one the best backcourts ever in the tradition-rich history of Warsaw basketball.
“Kyle was special as a teammate,” noted Marandet, who was the IFN Player of the Year in 2015. “He was just a great teammate. He was very unselfish and humble and never got down on anyone. We played together last summer on a team in the Bourbon League and that was a lot of fun.”
Mangas, who earned the IFN POY honor in both 2016 and 2017, says that Marandet was all about one thing during their prep days together.
“Paul just wanted to win,” stated Mangas. “He was a great leader and one of the greatest teammates that I have ever had. He was a true floor general. He has a high basketball IQ and was our best defensive player at Warsaw. He was just awesome to play with.”
Both former Tiger stars are confident in their own abilities and looking forward to the challenge come Saturday. IWU is 16-5 overall and 7-2 in league play after doing Grace 80-72 in overtime Tuesday night. Spring Arbor sits at 17-4 overall and 5-4 in conference action after an 82-60 loss at Saint Francis Tuesday.
“My confidence is pretty high right now,” said the soft-spoken Mangas. “My teammates and coaches give me that. Our offense here is about playing fearless and creating for your teammates. It’s an unselfish offense and I love that. I fit in well here and coach Tonagel is just a great coach to play for.”
“I’ve been more aggressive and my coaches have confidence in me,” Marandet noted. “My teammates make my life easier that’s for sure. I think that I’m the best player on the court right now every game.”
“I’m sure that I will be guarding Kyle on Saturday and Iook forward to it. I know his game pretty well. I just hope that he misses some shots and that we get the win.”
Mangas, for his part, knows despite whatever the final outcome is on Saturday that one thing will remain true.
“At the end of the day, Paul and I will still be friends and I will look forward to the next game versus him,” concluded Mangas.
A special sentiment between a truly special set of outstanding young men.