WABASH — Much of Warsaw’s game at Wabash Wednesday night was played at a frantic pace. Credit the Lady Tigers’ swarming, trapping, fullcourt defensive pressure for that.
It’s a tempo that can occasionally backfire on teams as the pace they create leads to rushed shots and turnovers on the offensive end, too, but not so with Warsaw. In fact, it’s a speed of play coach Lenny Krebs thinks is best for this particular group — it doesn’t allow them time to overthink things. And it’s a pace that yielded a lopsided, 57-19 victory over the host Apaches Wednesday.
“I think this is a team that the more they think, the more decisions they have to make, the more turnovers we’re going to have. Right now we go back to trust your training,” Krebs explained. “Part of our practice is set up in that sense. It’s a frantic pace at times, and we have to learn to make decisions. We can talk about the frantic pace, but six turnovers (in the first half) in that pace — we’re learning to make better decisions on the floor, and that’s what we were able to do.”
The Tigers’ six first-half turnovers stood in stark contrast to the 17 by the Apaches before halftime, and it led to numerous opportunities in transit and a full 17 points off turnovers in the first half.
After a tentative start following last week’s loss to area rival Tippecanoe Valley, Warsaw took the lead for the final time on a Maddie Ryman wing triple off a Kaylee Patton swing at the 2:54 stop of the opening stanza. The visitors closed out the period with 13 unanswered points and already led by double digits before the quarter break, then opened the second quarter on an 11-1 run to balloon that advantage to a dominant, 28-7 cushion with five minutes still left to play before halftime.
“We were able to create some easy scoring opportunities with our defense. We were able to pressure them and force them into I think 17 turnovers in that first half where we were able to create some offense. That goes back to that whole defensive intensity leads to offensive confidence,” said Krebs.
“We mentioned in the pre-game we just wanted to play with that joy. Let’s go and have some fun. Ultimately, you know, that’s why you play this game. And fun isn’t just a good fun. Fun is competing and being intense, and you saw that in us tonight.”
And almost everyone got in on the fun, too.
With Warsaw already leading by nearly 30 points at the five-and-a-half-minute mark of the third period, the Tigers reserves began to see heavy rotation. Krebs’ lineup went 11 deep at Wabash, and a full 10 of those players made the scoring column. Ryman led all scorers with 11 points, while Kacilyn Krebs and Halle Shipp both notched eight points, and Brielle Harrison and Kendall Wayne each finished with seven in an ultra-balanced performance that saw Warsaw tally 14 assists — six of them by Ryman — on 18 made shots.
“What we saw tonight was a group effort, a team play together, some kids who weren’t afraid to step up and make some plays. They weren’t afraid to shoot the basketball. They weren’t afraid to make mistakes. They went out and played,” Krebs said. “ If you go back to Norwell and some of those early games, we had some timidness in some of those kids, and Maddie Ryman, she was forced at Norwell to do more than she probably should’ve. Kaylee Patton at Tippy Valley, we’ve had that one person popping up here and there. I definitely like what we saw here today, some nice balance.”
Mariah Wyatt scored seven points and pulled down three rebounds to lead Wabash but was limited by intermittent foul trouble. Hope Unger finished with five points, but the rest of the Apaches roster was mostly silent as they dropped to a 1-3 start.
The Lady Tigers moved to an even 2-2 and return to action Saturday at Northridge for the NLC/ Duneland Shootout. They’re scheduled to face Crown Point first at 12:30 p.m., followed by a game opposite Merrillville at 4 p.m. First things first, though.
“We’re going to enjoy this one right now. We’re not going to focus on Crown Point; we’re not going to focus on Merrillville right now. We’re going to enjoy the steps that we took today,” said Krebs.
“This is a team that I believe in their ability to play their best basketball in January. I think we’re going to continue to learn and grow. I’m excited to see where they go.”