By Nick Goralczyk
GOSHEN — The road to Indianapolis rolled out like a welcome mat Tuesday night at Goshen High School. While teams looked to advance at the 2021 IHSAA Girls Basketball Sectional 4 Tournament it was Penn and Warsaw punching tickets to Friday’s semifinals.
Warsaw 33, Goshen 29
Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs was a busy man Tuesday night. Krebs could barely find time to take a breath following his team’s 33-29 defeat of sectional host and Northern Lakes Conference champion Goshen in the opening round of the tournament.
The demand was understandable. After falling at home to Goshen 49-38 just a few weeks back, all but ending its chances at an NLC title, Warsaw was given a golden opportunity to flip the script against the RedHawks on their home court and did just that. From post game interviews with local radio, television, newspapers and websites, Krebs was the quote everyone wanted and he did not disappoint.
“I never thought I would get to this point,” Krebs admitted while taking a glance at the score board. “I’m a very up-tempo, aggressive style of offense. We tried that against Goshen last time. It didn’t work.”
“If you would’ve told me that I was going to come in here and score 33 points and win, I would’ve told you that you need locked up, in a padded room with a self-hugging jacket. Because that’s not my style of play. But we knew this was how we were going to have to play today.”
Warsaw struggled the first few minutes of the game to even find a shot, let alone make one, against a stout defensive effort from Goshen. But as the first quarter, and ultimately the game, wore on it became clear that Warsaw was not interested in shooting just any shot from the field.
The Tigers were methodical in the way they were moving the ball. When they found a shot they liked, they took it. But that did not happen very often. The Tigers took just 26 shots, making only nine for a shooting percentage of 35. So, the success from the floor was arguably not great. But, in terms of the game plan, it worked just fine.
“Our girls carried out the game plan to perfection,” Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs explained during the first of his trio of post game interviews. “We learned the first time that Brynn (Shoup-Hill) can beat us, Tyra (Marcum) hurt us last time on the offensive boards. So we tried to come up with something that was not going to allow Brynn to get going and still keep Tyra off the boards.
“We watched (Warsaw boys head coach) Matt Moore when they played Northridge last time, he played a triangle-and-two. It kind of perked my interest and I thought we could put it in our back pocket. We spent the last couple of days working on it and you saw that here today.”
Warsaw’s defense never wavered, despite Goshen (18-4) throwing up 40 shots. “Throwing up” being the key phrase as the RedHawks finished with a shooting percentage of 28. The nets were far from scorched in this game.
While Warsaw took a 7-6 lead in the first quarter and never lost it, the game remained close throughout. What put the Tigers over the top was their careful shot selection and commitment to winning the battle on the boards. Warsaw finished the night with 33 rebounds to Goshen’s 20. The Tigers also stayed strong on defense with four blocks.
When the game reached the final minutes and the RedHawks were forced to foul, the Tigers never blinked, hitting all of their free throws down the stretch. Warsaw was a perfect 12-12 from the line in the game.
As the final buzzer rang, there were plenty of smiles to go around for those wearing orange and black. But now the focus shifts to another daunting task as Warsaw (17-5) will play another NLC foe, Northridge (16-7), in Friday’s semifinal. The Tigers defeated Northridge 37-33 in Middlebury on Jan. 9. Northridge received one of the two byes in the tournament.
Warsaw was led offensively by Abby Sanner’s 10-point effort, a game-high. Sanner also led all players with eight rebounds. Kensie Ryman added seven points for the Tigers, Bailie Stephens scored five, Kacilyn Krebs and Audrey Grimm each tallied four points and Kendall Wayne rounded out Warsaw’s offensive efforts with three points.
Shoup-Hill’s storied career at Goshen comes to an end with nine points. The Dayton-bound senior finishes as the all-time leading scorer in Goshen history and led the RedHawks to its only NLC basketball title this past season. And after torching Warsaw with 16 points and 17 rebounds in the regular season matchup, Marcum was held to just six points and three rebounds Tuesday night.
Penn 82, Concord 27
In the first game of the evening Penn used up all of the offense that Goshen and Warsaw were searching for in the nightcap. The Kingsmen rolled to victory behind a 17-point effort from Kaitlyn Costner. Kendal Taylor led Concord with 12 points.
Penn (18-3) will take on Elkhart (9-13) Friday evening in the first game of the double header starting at 5:30.