WARSAW – Make it seven straight for the Warsaw boys basketball team.
The Tigers started strong and finished fast Saturday night to down visiting Elkhart Central 57-41 in non-conference play in the Tiger Den.
Nolan Groninger turned in another stellar performance to pace Warsaw to its seventh straight victory.
Guard Groninger, coming off an excellent effort Friday night in a key league win at NorthWood, continued his premier play for the surging Tigers. The junior point guard canned a game-high 16 points and dished out nine assists without a single turnover in the win.
Groninger, whose play has been superb during the Tigers’ turnaround, also had four rebounds.
Warsaw. which improves to 10-7 overall, bolted to a 7-0 lead to open the game. The Tigers led 11-10 after the opening period and 18-16 at halftime.
Warsaw used a hot shooting final half to pull away from the Blue Blazers, who topped the Tigers 50-46 in a regular-season meeting last season in Elkhart. The hosts, who routed Central 71-36 in a sectional semifinal game last year, drained 12-19 shots from the field in the second half to outscore Central 39-25. Warsaw outscored the Blue Blazers 24-16 in the final period.
Zach Riley and Jaylen Reese each scored 10 points for the Tigers.
Tyler Metzinger had nine points and four rebounds for Warsaw. Jack Rhoades added four points and Brian Elliott and Blake Marsh each scored three points and Trevor Rumple two.
Warsaw shots 18-33 overall from the field, including 4-9 from deep. The hosts were 17-23 from the free throw line and had just three turnovers in the contest.
Central, which dropped its ninth game in its last 11 contests, shot 12-32 overall from the field. The Blue Blazers were just 6-19 from the field in the second half. Central shot 8-24 from 3-point range and 9-14 from the line and had 10 turnovers.
Keidon Warrell scored 14 points to pace Central.
The Tigers, who took over sole possession of first place in the NLC at 4-1 with the win at NorthWood Friday night, moved to 4-0 versus possible sectional foes with the victory over Central. The Blue Blazers host the Class 4-A sectional at North Side Gym next month.
Warsaw has now won 17 of the last 18 meetings versus Central.
Warsaw won the junior varsity game 52-37. Wyatt Amiss paced the Tigers with 16 points. Jaylen Coon scored 14 and Keagan Larsh eight. Isaiah Chandler led Central with 15 points.
Warsaw returns to NLC action versus Elkhart Memorial Thursday night at North Side Gym. With a win, the Tigers can clinch at least a share of their fourth straight conference championship. Warsaw wraps up NLC play at home versus Plymouth on Feb. 9.
Central, now 5-10, plays at Jimtown Thursday night.