Wawasee senior Collin Roberson knocks down a three-pointer in the first quarter of Tuesday night's sectional game against NorthWood. Photos by Gary Nieter
Wawasee senior Collin Roberson knocks down a three-pointer in the first quarter of Tuesday night's sectional game against NorthWood. Photos by Gary Nieter
NAPPANEE — Wawasee employed the strategy it had worked on.

But it was not enough to knock off the team ranked No. 1 in IHSAA Class 3A and No. 8 overall in the in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll among boys squads.

NorthWood bested the Warriors 52-23 Tuesday, Feb. 28 in the first game of the 3A NorthWood Sectional.

“I think we executed the game plan almost to perfection,” said Wawasee coach Jon Everingham, who wanted his squad to avoid the Panthers’ interior shot blockers and shoot from the 3-point range. “We just didn’t knock them down.”

The Warriors (9-14) shot 7-of-21 on 2-pointers and 0-of-9 on 3-pointers in the second half while the Panthers (22-2) were 9-of-12 and 3-of-5.

“We were trying to get to the fourth quarter in the general vicinity of 10 points (behind),” said Jon Everingham, who saw his team trail 35-14 through three periods. “It’s very difficult to do against NorthWood. We just wanted a chance in the fourth quarter.

“Some will question why we held the ball in the second and third (quarter), but we were just trying some how, some way to get the fourth quarter and be within striking distance.”

Wawasee never got closer than 19 in the final period.

“They’re very, very good,” said Jon Everingham. “They’ve certainly got a team that can go all the way.”

Junior Collin Ziebarth (7 points — five in the first quarter), sophomore Maddux Everingham (6 — all in the second half), sophomore Myles Everingham (4 — both in the second half) and senior Collin Roberson (3 — all in the first quarter) paced Wawasee scorers.

The NorthWood attack was led by seniors Brock Bontrager, Cade Brenner, and Ian Raasch with 11 points apiece. The 6-foot-3 Brenner netted eight in the first half, 6-6 Raasch seven in the second half and 6-2 Bontrager six in the first half.

Led by 6-8 Tyler Raasch (5), the Aaron Wolfe-coached Panthers held a 24-17 rebound edge. The Everingham twins — Maddux and Myles — grabbed five apiece.

The Warriors committed eight turnovers and NorthWood seven.

The Panthers finished the first half on a 15-2 run and took a 22-8 lead into intermission.

NorthWood outscored Wawasee 13-0 in the second quarter.

In first-half shooting, the Panthers went 7-of-9 on 2-pointers and 2-of-7 on 3-pointers while the Warriors were 1-of-6 and 2-of-12.

NorthWood led by as many as 7-3 in the first quarter and took a 9-8 advantage into the second period.

Ziebarth’s basket three seconds gave Wawasee its last points of the half.

Tuesday marked the last contest for Jon Everingham who had announced weeks ago that this would be his eighth and last season as Warriors head coach.

“It’s emotional because of the players,” said Everingham. “We’ve got a good group of guys. It’s tough thinking we won’t be practicing tomorrow.”

The sectional semifinals on Friday, March 3 feature Lakeland (16-7) vs. West Noble (20-3) at 6 p.m., followed by NorthWood vs. Fairfield (8-14). The championship is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4.

During the regular season, NorthWood beat Wawasee 57-23, Fairfield 64-24, Lakeland 74-37 and West Noble 55-47.