By Mike Deak
WARSAW – The Tiger Den was full of uncertainty Wednesday night. No one short of new Warsaw boys basketball head coach Matt Moore knew much of anything about Indianapolis Shortridge High School, the Blue Devils facing the Tigers on the court. Not many in the stands honestly knew much about Moore, who was coaching his first game for Warsaw. So much so, his stats and stops on the coaching tour were read before the contest over the PA system in a PSA style.
And plenty of questions were floating around about a Tiger program that had been led under the guidance of Doug Ogle for a good part of the last two decades.
The product of a 63-43 Warsaw win over Shortridge quelled some of those curiosities.
Even the Tigers running onto the court in orange, black and white candy-striped pants before the varsity contest was a curiosity. A little swagger, a little flair, stars up and down the sides of the uniforms. It was a new era Wednesday night, and the Tigers opened it with a pretty good showing against a Shortridge team that had a load of talent but lacked the polish to keep pace.
While the two teams played to an 8-6 score early on, Warsaw would break out to end the first quarter with a 9-1 run to take a 15-9 advantage. Jackson Dawson then began to establish himself inside, scoring nine points in the half, and a Luke Adamiec three at the halftime buzzer doubled up the Blue Devils, 30-15.
“When teams have tendencies, can we start identifying those without us doing it in a timeout,” Moore said. “In the first half, they have a couple threes and we didn’t recognize that. The chin cut a few times off the elbow, we didn’t see that early enough. Can we identifying where our attackers are offensively and the things we can do defensively to blunt teams early and take easy opportunities away.”
As Shortridge continued to struggle from the floor, shooting 13-45 in the contest (29 percent), Warsaw took advantage of the misses. Warsaw shot 51 percent (25-49), highlighted by Adamiec’s 8-12 performance from the floor. His team-leading 17 points saw him score aggressively at the rack and with purpose. The play of Dawson, who finished with 11 points and eight boards, mirrored that of Adamiec, which opened up lanes for Judah Simfukwe to score 12 points and Jaxon Gould to pile up 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and six steals.
Will Smith and Ethan Powell each scored 12 points to lead Shortridge.
The roundabout effort from the Tigers on day one sat pretty well with Moore.
“It’s good to get one under your belt and have a direction now,” Moore said. “I think we are striving to move the ball. It’s one of the hardest things in the job I’ve gotten to, to get guys to trust the ball will find you. I thought we tried to do a decent job of that tonight. I think we aren’t taking time to read the defense and make the right cuts. I think guys were looking for each other both in the JV and varsity game.
“That’s only going to improve if we are able to get shots to go down.”
The JV game was a Warsaw blowout, 62-18. Warsaw scored the first 10 points of the game and never looked back. Kyle Dawson led the hosts with 15 points and both Drew Heckaman and Isaiah Courtois finished with 14 points.
The Warsaw freshman squad also put it to Shortridge in a 57-11 final down the hall. No stats were provided from the contest.