Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union

Senior Jaylen Coon of Warsaw gets Nolan Cumberland of Tippecanoe Valley off his feet while working under the basket in the second quarter.
Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union Senior Jaylen Coon of Warsaw gets Nolan Cumberland of Tippecanoe Valley off his feet while working under the basket in the second quarter.
AKRON - For two quarters of Wednesday night’s high school boys basketball season opener, the Warsaw Tigers and Tippecanoe Valley Vikings were even on the scoreboard.

The other two quarters … not so much, as the Tigers dominated the middle quarters en route to a 61-37 win on a night Valley officially dedicated its court in honor of longtime broadcaster and popular community figure Rita Price Simpson.

Both teams scored 10 points in the first quarter and 14 in the fourth.

It was in the second and third quarters where the Tigers did their damage, outscoring the hosts 37-13 over those 16 minutes.

“We had six practices coming into this game, and honestly things haven’t been real smooth in our practices,” said Warsaw coach Doug Ogle, who was without five players in practice while they were part of the school’s first sectional championship in football.

“I didn’t know how we were gonna play tonight, and I wasn’t surprised that Valley got off to a decent start, they were hanging in there. I don’t know exactly what happened in our run, but it was a lot of good things.

“I thought overall, tonight was a good start. We had some good contributions off the bench. I’m not disappointed with how we played tonight.”

Junior Brock Poe led the Tigers with a game-high 14 points off the bench, while sophomore starter Jackson Dawson tallied 12 points in the win.

Seniors Blake Marsh and Jaylen Coon chipped in with nine and eight points, respectively.

While a number of Warsaw’s players were adjusting from the gridiron to the hardwood, the majority of Valley’s players were taking part in their first varsity game.

Of the 11 players on third-year coach Chad Patrick’s roster, eight are freshmen or sophomores.

There were times in the 32-minute contest that Valley’s youth really showed. There were other times when the Vikings’ potential was evident.

“I thought if we could come out and play well the first three to four minutes that we could hang with them and play with them, and compete in the whole game,” said Patrick. “We scripted several plays, I tried to do as much as I could so the younger kids didn’t have to think much .. they could just play and take the pressure off and go.

“We did that really well, and boy, in the second quarter we kind of forgot everything we worked on in practice. We didn’t play our pack line defense. Warsaw had 42 points in the paint. Pack line defense keeps them from scoring like that in the paint, makes them beat us from the 3 (point line). That didn’t happen.

“We work on blocking out every night, and got outrebounded 45-23, that’s what our stats had, and 14 second-chance points. At the half we were down 14 points and we had given up four second-chance points, and we had missed seven free throws … actually nine because two were the front ends of 1-and-1s. You turn all that around and we’re only down three, or better, at halftime.

“It’s all fixable things, but it’s all things I guess I was afraid could happen with a young group. What we really need is the seniors to step up and take leadership. I know a lot of their buddies aren’t here, and it may not be what they wanted, but they have an opportunity to lead a very good young group of kids. I’m not talking about making them good next year or the year after, I’m talking about making them good this year because I think we can be a really good team this year.”

Sophomore Rex Kirchenstien led Valley with 12 points, while freshman Paul Leasure chipped in with six points, senior Tanner Trippiedi five, and freshman Nolan Cumberland and sophomore Dawson Perkins four points each.

The Tigers are in action again Saturday when they travel to Columbia City, while Valley travels to Argos Tuesday.