WARSAW — Matt Moore established his way of doing things in his first season as head coach of boys basketball at Warsaw Community High School.

In going 15-8 overall and 6-1 in the Northern Lakes Conference (tying Mishawaka for the conference crown) in 2020-21, the Tigers got off to a 7-7 start and put together an eight-game win streak before a narrow loss to Elkhart in the IHSAA Class 4A Elkhart Sectional.

“A year ago I was teaching everybody what our program was going to look like,” says Moore, who shared 2020-21 NLC Coach of the Year honors with Mishawaka’s Ron Heclinski. “It took us awhile to figure it out and get on that same plane.

“A team has to buy into the process and play the way you’re trying to coach them.”

Now that there is familiarity, Moore wants his team to be to top-flight defenders and passers.

“There are three things that we value: The ability to play hard at a high level, play smart with competence and play together,” says Moore. “We want to sacrifice what may be a good shot for me for a great shot for somebody else.”

That should lead to higher shooting percentages and a number of assists.

“We want to be celebrating each other’s successes,” says Moore. “That’s a fun way to play.”

Eight lettermen from that squad, including the core of junior guard Jaxson Gould (16.6 points per game), senior guard Judah Simfukwe (12.0) and junior wing Russ Winchester (2.5), return for 2021-22 as Warsaw won its season opener Saturday at Columbia City followed by eight straight home contests.

Warsaw’s first home game is slated for Friday, Dec. 3 against IBCA preseason No. 3-ranked Homestead.

The first NLC game is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 17 against Wawasee at the Tiger Den.

The Tiger Classic is Dec. 28-29 with Warsaw taking on Pendleton Heights and South Bend Washington the first day and Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger the second.

Coming down the regular-season stretch, Warsaw has three straight Friday-Saturday weekends (Goshen and Peru Jan. 14-15, Concord and Valparaiso Jan. 21-22, NorthWood and Elkhart Jan. 28-29).

“We try to cover every circumstance and give them the preparation for whatever comes at them,” says Moore, who has crafted a schedule that gets the Tigers ready for the postseason. “Are we willing and able to play at the high level the schedule is going to demand?”

Moore knows returning all-NLC performers Gould (who also lead the team in rebounds, assists and steals with norms of 5.3, 2.6 and 2.0) and Simfukwe (4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists) will attract attention from opposing defenses.

“Judah and Jaxson are going to get the most touches,” says Moore. “They are going to get more opportunities the less unselfish they are.

“Teams will try to take those two guys away. We’ll have to have other guys step up at moments.”

Five other returning lettermen — senior post Kyle Dawson (2.5 points per game), senior wing Tyler Kuhn and junior guards Drew Heckman (2.4), Theo Katris and Nick Katris — are in the mix as are senior post Isaiah Courtois and sophomore wing Austin Polk, sophomore guard Julian Saldivar and sophomore post Luke Yeager.

“I really like my group,” says Moore. “We fit together.

“Our chemistry tends to get better and better.”

The off-season and preseason has been a time for the Tigers to get players to step into roles and fill the void of players who do not return.

All-NLC honorable mention selection Jackson Dawson (cousin of Kyle) would have been a senior returnee, but has moved to Florida. Graduation took Ben Bergen, Luke Adamiec, Bishop Walters, Caleb Sands, Brock Poe and Graydon Brath.

In establishing an overall program and putting his spin on what Al Rhodes started and Doug Ogle continued, a Tiger Basketball Academy for Grades 3-8 was started last winter with high school coaches involved. It drew 111 and is slated to return at the end of January.