Luke Adamiec of Warsaw goes to the basket after driving down the baseline during the fourth quarter. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Luke Adamiec of Warsaw goes to the basket after driving down the baseline during the fourth quarter. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Losing to Merrillville Saturday afternoon, said Warsaw boys basketball coach Doug Ogle, would have been a hard pill to swallow.

As it turned out, Ogle and the Tigers tasted victory by beating the Pirates 60-55 and improving their record to 13-4 with a seventh straight win.

To say the least, the nonconference game – which had a 4:30 p.m. tipoff and was played less than 24 hours after an emotional win at Plymouth gave the Tigers at least a share of their fifth straight Northern Lakes Conference title – was a roller coaster.

Warsaw raced out to a 21-6 lead before the end of the first quarter.

Merrillville, now 9-10 on the season, responded with a 22-0 run of its own and led 33-26 by halftime.

The Tigers put their second-quarter struggles behind them and outscored Merrillville 34-22 in the second half, shooting 63 percent from the floor over the final 16 minutes while Merrillville shot 29 percent in the third and fourth quarters.

“I was thrilled with our start. I was worried about a hangover from all the emotion that we put into the Plymouth game,” said Ogle, whose team hasn’t lost since a 51-34 setback to East Noble on Dec. 29 at Grace College.

“We got off to a great start, and then man, the second quarter we just kind of had a meltdown and they went on a 22-0 run (that started in the first quarter). I was extremely disappointed in that stretch.”

A big reason for the Tigers’ success in the second half was the play of 6-foot senior guard Nolan Groninger

A night after scoring 21 points in the win at Plymouth, Groninger scored 17 points in the second half against Merrillville en route to a career-high 25.

Groninger, who scored eight points in Warsaw’s impressive first-quarter spurt, finished the game 7 of 11 from the field overall, 2 of 2 from three-point range, and 9 of 12 at the free throw line. He stuffed the stat sheet with four assists, three rebounds and a steal.

Groninger has scored at least 20 points in each of Warsaw’s last four games.

He did that only once in the Tigers’ other 13 games.

Groninger is playing with a sence of urgency and aggressiveness as his prep career winds down.

“He had to do a lot of ball handling tonight against a lot of good pressure,” Ogle said of Groninger. “I’m really thankful he’s on our team because had a really good weekend from a ball handling standpoint, from a scoring standpoint, defensively.”

Junior Wyatt Amiss, who also scored eight points in Warsaw’s first-quarter run, finished with 10 points, while senior Trevor Rumple and sophomore Luke Adamiec scored seven and six points, respectively, seniors Jaylen Reese and Tyler Metzinger five and four, and junior Blake Marsh two.

Junior Jaylen Coon rounded out the Tigers’ scoring with a free throw.

Keon Thompson led Merrillville with 21 points and six rebounds, and Darryon Bandy chipped in with 16 points and six boards.

Warsaw held Merrillville to 7-of-24 shooting in the second half.

“Our defense was better in the second half on Keon Thompson,” said Ogle. “I was really disappointed in our defense on him in the first half.

“We did better in the second half, and we took a charge from him, made him work much harder. He got to the basket early in the third quarter, and I took everyone out except for Groninger. I put in four new guys, because that’s what we talked about at halftime, and there he goes again. And that group did a good job ... that group of (Keagan) Larsh, Coon, Metzinger, Rumple and Groninger.

“It would have been a hard pill to swallow had we lost this game. But our team rallied, and in the second half we were much better mentally.”

The Tigers will put their seven-game win streak on the line Saturday when they travel to Carmel to play the Class 4A No. 2 Greyhounds.

Warsaw will then host Elkhart Memorial on Feb. 19 with a chance to go 7-0 in the NLC for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

The Tigers won the JV game 53-46, as Bishop Walters led the way with 21 points.



WARSAW 60, MERRILLVILLE 55

M    11    22    7    15    –    55

W    21    5    15    19    –    60

Merrillville – Kolby Ford 1-6 0-0 3, Darryon Bandy 6-12 1-2 16, Dorian Harris 2-7 0-0 4, Austin Powell 0-1 0-0 0, Keon Thompson 6-14 9-10 21, Will Fulton 3-5 0-0 9, Lavari Ruffin 0-0 0-0 0, Mark Leon 0-1 0-0 0, Jakobe Jones 1-2 0-0 3, Roy Akins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 10-12 55.

Warsaw – Nolan Groninger 7-11 9-12 25, Blake Marsh 1-1 0-0 2, Wyatt Amiss 2-7 4-4 10, Trevor Rumple 3-6 0-0 7, Jaylen Coon 0-1 1-2 1, Tyler Metzinger 2-5 0-0 4, Jaylen Reese 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 19-39 16-22 60.

Three-pointers – Merrillville 7 (Bandy 3, Fulton 3, Jones), Warsaw 6 (Groninger 2, Amiss 2, Rumple, Reese); Rebounds – Merrillville 28 (Bandy 6, Thompson 6), Warsaw 24 (Groninger 3, Marsh 3, Adamiec 3); Turnovers – Merrillville 10, Warsaw 10; Fouls – Merrillville 22, Warsaw 10; Fouled out – none; Records: Merrillville 9-10, Warsaw 13-4

JV – Warsaw 53, Merrillville 46

Warsaw – Bishop Walters 21, Brock Poe 9, Drew McCleary 8, Mason Martz 8, Jackson Dawson 6, Ben Bergen 1