By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – Head coach Jon Everingham and his Wawasee Warriors are moving past the “happy to be there” notion. After back-to-back years of making and then losing the sectional championship game, the Warriors are poised to finally make someone watch its celebration.
Wawasee is looking to win its first sectional since 2010, a year the Warriors were a bucket away from playing in a semi-state. In the current construct of the Class 3-A sectional hosted by West Noble, Wawasee has lost in the tournament to each of the other four programs in the past four years, but Wawasee had beaten three of them, including a convincing win over Lakeland last March.
NorthWood, however, has given Wawasee trouble, the Panthers winners of the past four tournament matchups, including last year’s championship. NorthWood has won the last 13 matchups overall, dating back to the 2009-10 season.
But the past is the past, and this Wawasee team is primed to win in the present. Wawasee knocked off West Noble by three in January and finishes the regular season with a trip to Valley in two days.
Of course, the random sectional draw was predictable, as Wawasee and Valley have drawn each other once again. In eight of the last seasons, the two have faced off, Wawasee winning three of the seven matchups. The next installment will be Tuesday’s lone game at the West Noble Sectional, a 7 p.m. tip. The winner will get defending sectional champ NorthWood on Friday in the second semi-final.
Wawasee (10-11) has the guns to make noise, led by Keaton Dukes, who is dropping 16 points per game, dropping a career-high 34 last week against Westview. The junior is hauling in almost five rebounds a night. Ethan Carey has had an impact on Wawasee’s offense, primarily in some key three-pointers made (32), but is first on the team in steals (31) and court emotion. Carey is second on the team at 6.6 points per game.
While pulling in six points and three rebounds a game, Collin Roberson has come on in the second half of the season, and offers 15 blocks and 15 steals on the defensive end. Grant Brooks adds a second presence in the post, and shoots nearly 50 percent from the floor.
The Warriors also look to the leadership of Kam Salazar at the point, who leads the team in assists (69) and is five behind Carey in steals.
Wawasee also looks to the contributions of Caden Welty, Jack Stover, Adam Beer and Mason Possell.