SYRACUSE – Wawasee boys basketball head coach Jon Everingham couldn’t help but stay calm and just let the show happen Friday night. In the annual fold ’em game ahead of the sectional, Everingham’s Warriors showed a full house to Valley’s two pairs in a 51-41 victory.
In what will be the first time in six years that Wawasee and Valley won’t meet in the first or second round of the sectional, the Warriors looked like the much looser and coordinated team. Using small contributions from most of its varsity core, a gradual mix of inside-outside was enough to beat the Vikings.
Bennett Hoffert hit a pair of threes in the first half, and a big triple and one from Ryan Edington gave Wawasee an early seven-point cushion. Another three from Edington had Wawasee up 31-19 in the third, part of a 12-point night to lead the Warriors.
Jacob Hand quietly put together a 10-point night with five rebounds and four assists and Trevon Coleman didn’t need to send up a ton of shots, just six on the night, but hit four of them for eight points. It was the attention paid to Coleman that Everingham noted allowed others to step up.
“Team basketball is what we really have been preaching the past five or six games,” Everingham said. “It’s not any one player that carried us tonight. We had guys like Ben Hoffert and Ryan Edington that had big minutes and hit big shots. And Trevon forced them to stay in a zone instead of going back to man to man. That was a big deal.”
Everingham also pointed out that Wawasee had 14 assists on 19 made shots, an incredible rate of efficiency in that team basketball concept.
Aaron Evans and Cayden Wegener each added six points, Evans chipping in five assists, four rebounds and three steals.
After Edington’s four-point play in the second quarter, Valley never really got back in the ballgame. A Parkur Dalrymple three pulled the VIkings back under double digits at 37-28, and another three from Cam Parker got the Vikings within 10 with just over a minute to go, but neither were scenarios where the mood of the gym was changing.
Valley head coach Chad Patrick was mixed on his club’s performance, understating the time and situation of the matchup.
“I just don’t think our kids came out with the fire they have had the last several games in the first half,” Patrick said. “You can make all the excuses you want with two road games back to back. But that is what you are going to do next week in the sectional. So, I don’t think the excuses work well, but I’m the one that let it happen.”
Dalrymple led Valley, which played Thursday night at Maconaquah, with 10 points while Alex Morrison and Tanner Trippiedi each had nine points, Morrison adding eight rebounds.
The JV season for both teams ended Friday, the Wawasee team on top 39-28. Austin Miller led the Warriors with 11 points and Jalen Shepherd had 10 for the Vikings.
Both clubs will happily shift gears from a rough regular season to the postseason, where every team is 0-0 in the tournament. Valley (5-17) gets the bye at NorthWood and will take on NorthWood or a suddenly limping Fairfield squad after it’s all-everything guard Luke Stephens left Friday night’s game at Central Noble with a knee injury and didn’t return. Wawasee (6-16) meets Lakeland in game one, the Lakers holders of a 24-point win over the Warriors back on Jan. 27 in Syracuse.
“We’re in a good spot,” noted Patrick. “We’re playing a lot better. All year we haven’t put two nights in a row together with shooting, and it’s about time. If that happens, we can be dangerous. There is no pressure on us.”
Added Everingham, “We are peaking right now and that’s exactly where I wanted us to be. I thought tonight was a great example of that. It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden we are going to blow out Lakeland, they proved the first time around they are a really, really good team. But I told our guys that if we can get on them fast, we have a shot. That’s all we want is a shot.”