SYRACUSE – It took a few minutes to get the ball in the bucket. But once one went in, more were to follow for the Warsaw girls basketball team.
Warsaw needed over four minutes to score its first basket, but would score 26 of the game’s first 29 points in a 54-29 win over Wawasee Saturday night at the Hardwood Teepee.
Kensie Ryman sank a three at the 4:47 mark of the first quarter to break a scoreless deadlock. Quickly, that led to nine straight Warsaw points in the next two-plus minutes. A Brielle Harrison offensive rebound and putback at the buzzer had Warsaw up 13-1 at the end of the quarter.
Consecutive threes from Ryman and Kaylee Patton continued the snowball, which Wawasee mercifully cut the run with its first field goal of the half by Kennedy White with a little over four minutes left in the half. The damage, however, had been done as Warsaw led 22-3 and wouldn’t look back.
“We knew we weren’t going to come in here and just jump out to a 25-point lead,” said Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs. “You rarely do that. I thought we were pressing a little bit too hard early in the game and trying to make things a little bit too quickly and weren’t getting in the flow allowing the game to come to us a little bit more.
“It takes knocking down that one shot and you get on a little bit of a roll. I think once we hit that first shot to break the ice a little bit, we were able to hit a couple more after that.”
Ryman’s return from a shoulder injury is likely synonymous with Warsaw’s current five-game win streak, all five in road games. The junior guard had nine points, five rebounds and three assists, but was in the middle of most of Warsaw’s run in the first half. Harrison also had a huge night, registering a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds, eight of those rebounds on the offensive glass.
Kacilyn Krebs and Patton both ended with eight points and Abby Sanner had five offensive and nine total rebounds.
“In order to compete for these championships we want to compete for, I think we need to become more efficient,” Krebs said. “Wawasee did a good job exposing some things we need to work on.”
What was lost in the box score for Wawasee was its bounce back in the second half. Wawasee played Warsaw to seven points in the second half, which is a silver lining for coach Matt Carpenter after a disastrous start.
“We were real intentional in being engaged and giving constant effort for 32 minutes tonight,” said Carpenter. “I think the girls played a complete game from that standpoint. It took us way too long to adjust to their physicality and their speed, their strength and their size early on. That’s part of why we got down 26-3. We were more reacting to where they wanted us to go offensively than get a reversal and a set shot and a good look.”
Emily Haines and Jada Carter both scored 10 points for the Lady Warriors, Haines adding six rebounds. Becca Smith was held to one point after a career-high 12 against Bethany Christian earlier in the week. Smith, however, did provide four offensive and six total rebounds and made Sanner and the Tiger post work much harder than it looked like it would need at the outset.
“Becca has come a long way, just in the last week, in her ability and how hard she is playing,” Carpenter said. “She was backing down from some of the physical challenges early in the year and now you are seeing her going up to the basket more aggressively. She is trying to get the ball and we’re trying to get the ball to her.”
The Warsaw JV ran out to a 14-0 lead only for Wawasee to trim the lead to single digits in the second half. Warsaw would recover and close out a 30-19 victory. Hannah Hatfield led Warsaw with nine points with Marin Hart right behind with eight points. Tate Cowan led the hosts with nine points and three steals.
Warsaw (9-5, 2-1 NLC) hosts Chesterton and either Perry Meridian or Huntington North at the TCU Tiger Shootout on Jan. 4. Wawasee (5-7, 0-4 NLC) hosts Central Noble on the 27th.