SYRACUSE — After starting the season 0-3 with two losses coming on buzzer-beaters, the Wawasee girls basketball team turned things around and won three of its next four games. That positive turnaround came to a screeching halt Tuesday night as, once again, the Lady Warriors found themselves on the wrong end of a game-winning shot. This time it was West Noble that escaped the Hardwood Tee Pee following a game-winning shot as the Chargers earned a 53-51 win.
“This is a tough one,” admitted Wawasee head coach Matt Carpenter. “Right now, for the majority of the game, we have a sense of urgency, we have focus, we intensity, we have togetherness. What happens, when teams go on runs against us, I choose to look at it as that we did not come out or have that same sense of urgency, that same togetherness.
“That’s what happened tonight to start the third quarter. We talked to them afterwards and said we need to work on it. We have to fix that. More huddles on the floor. More reminders of ‘Hey, I got your back.’ That’s something will continue to work on in practice. We’ve made strides, we’re getting better. But, when we let down, we’re letting down from a mentality standpoint and our execution suffers.”
A crazy series of events, and lack of execution, led to West Noble escaping with the win Tuesday evening.
The Warriors were clinging to a 51-50 lead with 12 seconds left to play. Wawasee struggled against the press from West Noble and would end up turning it over. The ensuing possession for the Chargers ended abruptly with a traveling call on Tara Miller. But Wawasee gave the ball right back on the in-bounds play, a long pass out of reach intended of Aubrey Schmeltz. Miller redeemed herself for West Noble as she hit a go-ahead three-pointer with just two seconds to spare. Wawasee failed to equalize on its final possession.
The loss was especially tough to swallow for the Warriors as they dominated the game early. The Chargers took an early 4-0 lead, but Wawasee ended the first quarter on a 9-0 run. In the second Wawasee continued its dominance and led 26-15 at the half. But, as Carpenter mentioned, the start of the third quarter was a killer for his team.
West Noble opened the second half on a 12-0 run to regain the lead. Wawasee finally woke up, but was unable to shake the Chargers after that big run.
Wawasee and West Noble were both 15-23 from the foul line. West Noble shot 37-percent from the floor while Wawasee shot 53-percent. The Warriors also won the battle on the boards 29-24, unofficially.
Kasia Weigold and Kaylie Warble led West Noble with six rebounds each. Lauren Burns led the Chargers with 15 points. Warble added 11 while Weigold had 10.
Wawasee was led all-around by Aubrey Kuhn. The junior had quite the day as she was in a car accident Tuesday morning then led Wawasee with 17 points and nine rebounds Tuesday evening. Kuhn also organized the fundraiser happening during the game for her Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy (KYLA) group. The fundraiser had eight local sponsors and was done to support the Kosciusko County Cancer Care Fund (KCCCF).
“KYLA challenges us to do a project to create awareness or raise money for something in our community,” Kuhn explained. “The first thing that jumped out to me was doing something related to cancer. I lost one grandmother to cancer when I was 14 and have another battling it now. With those experiences I realized how much cancer affects the whole family.
“I thought it was really cool that we have an organization in our community that helps to take the stress off the family. You don’t hear about that side of it very often.”
KCCCF provides assistance for residents of the Kosciusko community that are fighting cancer by providing them with financial support for utilities and other bills. Funds raised through Kuhn’s project will be donated to KCCCF in Nancy Nelson’s name. Nelson is the team’s statistician and has been since 1981. This year she celebrates her 25th year of being a breast cancer survivor. Before warmups players and coaches laid pink roses in front of Nelson’s spot on the scorer’s table, an element to the night that Kuhn insisted on having.
“Nancy has been keeping the book for us since 1981,” Kuhn began saying. “You don’t think about somebody staying around a program that long, I think that’s really amazing.
“To have somebody that’s a part of this team, I consider her a part of our team, that has gone through that kind of life-changing event and has such a dedication to this program, she deserved recognition.”
Wawasee (3-5) will play at South Bend Adams Thursday night.
Wawasee’s JV moved to 6-0 following a 39-24 victory over West Noble. Morgan Adkins led the JV Warriors with 12 points. Kierston Beckner had a game-high six rebounds and added five points for Wawasee.