WARSAW — Perhaps counterintuitively, Warsaw head coach Doug Ogle thought not playing a scrimmage possibly made his team more prepared for its season-opener with Tippecanoe Valley. The Tigers sure looked ready to go.
Warsaw’s boys started fast, kept their feet on the gas, and used a dominant 23-6 third period to put the Vikings away on the way to a convincing, 67-39 win at the Tiger Den Wednesday night.
“Our guys were ready to play. We didn’t have a scrimmage so not having a scrimmage we’re probably a little bit more anxious to play somebody else than a school that has already had a scrimmage,” explained Ogle.
“You saw tonight balanced offense. You saw good ball movement. You saw good 3-point shooting, and I just think this is a good start for us, honestly.”
That good start included a 12-2 game-opening run, and the home team never once trailed. Valley answered back with an 8-0 spurt of its own, and Parkur Dalrymple’s 3 from the top of the key at the start of the second cut the Vikings’ deficit to two at 15-13. Valley trailed by a still-manageable 35-21 margin at the half, but the wheels totally came off in the third, when the Tigers knocked down five triples — including three by junior guard Brian Elliott — while holding the Vikings to a single field goal to balloon their advantage out to more than 30 points.
“That was a horrible stretch,” said Valley coach Chad Patrick. “We started off the game doing what we wanted. We were playing pretty good defense. We were moving the ball, got some great shots. We missed a couple wide open shots, but they were inside-out 3s.”
“The frustrating part is in practice they’ve done so well for two and a half weeks, but in the scrimmage we had a stretch like that and tonight we had a stretch like that,” he continued. “About a four-, five-, six-minute stretch where they just made a run, and that was the difference in the game. And that’s what we have to keep from happening.”
All told, the home team rained down 10 3s at a 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) clip. Elliott was 5 for 10 from deep en route to a game-high 17 points, and junior reserve Wyatt Amiss gave his team a big spark of the bench with 4-of-5 3-point shooting on the way to 15 points. Nolan Groninger chipped in a very steady 11 points with three assists and three steals, and Tyler Metzinger was a force on the interior, finishing at an ultra-efficient 5-of-6 clip for 10 points while blocking three shots on the defensive end.
“I’m surprised that we shot that many (3s), but they were for the most part open and good shots, and we got a good number of offensive rebounds off of our missed 3s as well,” said Ogle. “That’s a good start for us offensively, all the way around really, but moving forward probably we won’t be shooting 22 3s a game. But tonight I don’t feel like it was too many, really.”
“Elliott, he just doesn’t miss,” said Patrick. “Groninger is great. Metzinger inside was just too much size for us, but I still thought we could’ve gone at him a little more. Jace (Potter) did a couple times, but he had zero fouls tonight and he’s got to be a lot more aggressive. We’ll get there with him.”
While the Tigers had four in double figures, Valley was paced offensively by Tanner Trippiedi, who scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth period. Dalrymple also finished in double digits with 10 in the season-opening loss. The Vikings will look to regroup at home opposite Argos next Tuesday.
“It’s frustrating because it doesn’t show it, but we’re ahead of last year at this point,” Patrick said. “I think we’ll be a really good team; we’ve just got to trust what we’re doing and trust each other and I think we’ll be OK.”
Warsaw will resume play Saturday night in another home contest with Columbia City scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
“I like the fact that we looked like a basketball team tonight in our season-opener. Because the people are coming to the game and wondering how is this team going to be, and I thought we were entertaining tonight,” said Ogle. “Though not perfect, I thought we looked like a basketball team tonight so you come away from this game as a basketball fan, I think you had to come away thinking this team has a chance to be pretty good.”