By Mike Deak
WARSAW – “I gotta go start the bus!”
Goshen girls basketball head coach Shaun Hill made it very clear he was ready to get out of Warsaw ASAP Saturday night. It wasn’t under duress, it was more to get back to Goshen to celebrate a little bit more.
Hill’s gang put on a defensive clinic at the Tiger Den Saturday night, clamping down on Warsaw to the tune of a 49-38 win. The win puts Goshen at 5-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference and in full control of a destiny the program has never seen.
“It’s always one game at a time,” said Hill, whose program has never won a NLC title. “We can’t take anything for granted. We haven’t been in this position before, but we can’t lose focus and forget how we got here. We just have to look at this win and feel good about winning at Warsaw.”
Warsaw once again fell victim to a disastrous third quarter, to which Goshen made its move and gained control of the contest. A 22-7 frame in favor of the visitors became the blueprint of the matchup, which afforded Goshen only its second win ever in Warsaw, and the first at the Tiger Den.
All eyes were on Brynn Shoup-HIll, the Goshen senior forward a Dayton University recruit and the centerpiece of Goshen’s motion. Shoup-Hill, standing 6-3 in socks, buried a pair of threes from about the same spot on the left corner to give Goshen a 24-18 lead in the third. That would ignite a 16-3 run to end the third quarter, the RedHawks hyped with a 34-21 lead.
“If I figured that out, I’d be the smartest man on the face of the earth right now,” uttered Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs on the third quarter breakdown, something that has plagued his team on multiple occasions this season. “Defensively they are a nice ball club. They are not where they are at by being a bad ball club defensively by any means. This is really troublesome at times trying to play over that net.”
In what was a decently attended and very boisterous crowd including a Warsaw student section, Goshen just kept giving its modest road following more juice. Tyra Marcum opened the fourth with four points, her second basket coming off a weak side offensive rebound and putback. Marcum later had a similar shortie where she got behind Warsaw’s defense for an easy look. With all the attention paid to Shoup-Hill, Marcum came through with 16 points and 17 rebounds, seven of those offensive.
Shoup-Hill, who made all six of her fourth quarter free throws, led Goshen with 22 points and had eight rebounds, five steals, three blocks and three assists to boot.
“Momentum was coming our way and our defense was laying on them,” Hill said. “We’ve had Megan (Gallagher), we’ve had Tyra, we’ve had Tori (Eldridge). Brynn has the green light to score, but we know teams are going to collapse on her. Everyone has the green light to score, and sometimes it doesn’t look that crisp, that clean because we give them the license to make their opportunities.”
Warsaw, which did make a 12-4 run in the fourth to keep it competitive, couldn’t get any closer than nine down the stretch. But on a night when the Tigers shot 4-20 from three-point range and made just 33 percent of its shots in the first half, Krebs wasn’t looking for moral victories.
“If you aren’t playing meaningful games at the end of January, obviously you aren’t where you want to be,” said Krebs, who coached Goshen for 14 years before coming to Warsaw, Hill a member of his staff. “This was an opportunity to play a meaningful game in January. We didn’t handle the pressure of that opportunity well.
“Fun environment, one we will learn from and grow from. Congratulations to coach Hill on the big win. They are in the driver’s seat. I love that guy dearly. I wish I could have kicked his butt today, but obviously he turned the tables on me.”
Abby Sanner paced Warsaw with 12 points, six rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
Goshen (15-3, 5-0 NLC) has a pair of non-conference games against Jimtown and Bethany Christian next week ahead of a showdown at home next Saturday against NorthWood. With a win, it will look to potentially close out its first NLC title Jan. 28 at home against Mishawaka.
Warsaw (14-4, 5-1 NLC) isn’t dead yet, but needs to beat Concord next Saturday and hope for a Goshen loss to either NorthWood or Mishawaka to claim at least a share of the title.