SYRACUSE — Playing its second straight contest without its best player, Wawasee’s mostly inexperienced lineup had some trouble spots Tuesday night.
There were the turnovers — 31 to be exact — and there were some rebounding woes playing out of the zone on the defensive end. But mostly the Lady Warriors got beaten by a better team, and head coach Matt Carpenter couldn’t fault his team’s effort in the 55-33 loss at the Hardwood Teepee.
“My frustration has been we haven’t been playing to the end, we haven’t been playing together, and we’ve laid down and we’ve folded and we’ve beaten ourselves. Tonight the encouraging thing is we had a really good week of practice, and we worked on playing with pride and with heart,” Carpenter said. “We knew we were going to make mistakes. We knew we were going to get out-rebounded, we knew we were going to turn the ball over some, but I think what you saw out of this team is we have our pride back. I think you’re seeing some fight, and that’s what I like. We got beaten by a good team. West Noble, they’re very good. We got beat by a better team, and I can handle that.”
West Noble (5-0) owned a 7-1 advantage at the first quarter break after a tentative start that saw the two teams combine for a 2-of-24 mark from the floor, but Wawasee (2-5) tied it up at 10-all with a 9-3 start to the second quarter capped off by Caitlin Wortinger’s baseline bucket at the 5:29 stop of the clock. The Chargers answered back with a 7-0 spurt of their own, however, and led 25-16 at the half. Another Wortinger basket cut Wawasee’s deficit to seven at 27-20 at the 4:42 mark of the third, but nine straight West Noble points pushed the visitors’ cushion back out to 36-20, and the Chargers never looked back.
“We had some runs,” said Carpenter. “We cut it to (seven), and we were one basket away from making them call timeout, from making them start to panic a little bit, putting some pressure on a good team and seeing how they respond. We would miss, and they would come up with an answer and that’s what a good team us going to do.”
Junior Madison Mottern continued to show growth and gave the undersized Warriors some interior play with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, including eight points as Wawasee’s backcourt began finding her inside in the second half.
“Madi had a fantastic week of practice — best week I’ve ever seen her have. She’s growing up quickly for us, and we know that she can be an important person inside,” Carpenter said. “When you don’t have a lot of size, that’s an opportunity for somebody who does have some size and strength, and Madi is making the most of it right now. Best game I’ve seen her have tonight. Did she make mistakes? Yeah. You know, we’re not perfect, but she’s learning and she’s learning how to be aggressive and learning how to use her size and strength inside.”
Jada Carter finished with seven points and five rebounds, and Danielle Jenkins chipped in six points, three steals and three assists for the Warriors, playing in their second game without Casey Schroeder, who continues to rehabilitate from an ACL tear to her right knee in the offseason and sat out both Saturday’s game at Triton and the West Noble contest. Schroeder may have been able to play in Tuesday’s return to the Hardwood Teepee, but Carpenter wasn’t about to risk it yet. Besides, he believes playing without her in the meantime will likely only make his team better down the road.
“We’re going to be that much better when her minutes come back and start to increase, and she’s getting close,” he said. “She’s been working hard. She might’ve been able to go tonight, but I’m not going to jeopardize a girl’s future who hasn’t had enough practices in right now after having a little bit of a tweak in the knee about a week ago. She doesn’t like it. That girl is a gamer. She’s not mad. She understood, but she wants to be out there with her teammates, and I respect that out of her.”
Lilly Mast scored 13 points with six steals to lead the Chargers, and Madison Schermerhorn finished with a near triple-double of 12 points, 13 rebounds and nine steals to go with three assists.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Wawasee’s JV won a 43-38 thriller in a down-to-the-wire finish that included a trio of big free throws by Ella Beezley. Beezley finished with a team-high nine points, and Becca Smith scored eight to lead the Lady Warrior JV team. Jazmyn Smith put up a game-high 13 points for the West Noble junior varsity.
West Noble travels to Westview Thursday. Wawasee will play at South Bend Adams Thursday night.