Warsaw freshman Brooke Zartman goes up for a floater during the?Tigers’ Tuesday night game at the Tiger Den against Columbia City.
Warsaw freshman Brooke Zartman goes up for a floater during the?Tigers’ Tuesday night game at the Tiger Den against Columbia City.
It was a battle of two teams on long winning streaks Tuesday at the Tiger Den as Warsaw hosted Columbia City. The Tigers came into the game winners of five straight and nine of their last ten, while the Eagles entered the contest on a nine game streak after dropping their season opener. After the final buzzer sounded, it was the visitors that extended the streak to 10 with a 68-59 win over the Tigers.

It’s the second straight meeting that Columbia City has won between the two schools and the first at Warsaw since 2002. Despite back to back losses, the Tigers have still won 14 of the last 18 games in the series.

“Championships aren’t won in December,” Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs said. “They exposed some things that we need to do better but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If we can fix a few things here and there we can win a game like this.”

The game began with both teams playing sharp defense, with scoring coming at a premium in the opening minutes. It would not last long however, as a few possessions into the game, Columbia City started to find openings in the Tiger defenses. The Eagles passed the ball at such a pace that on some possessions they seemed to get shots at the rim after taking no more than a handful of dribbles.

The lightning quick offense caused problems for the home team, as Warsaw tried different ways to contain the visitors. To make matters worse for the Tigers, each layup made by Columbia City was accompanied by a foul, resulting in three different three-point play opportunities for the Eagles. Columbia City would make its free throws and expand the lead quickly in the opening period.

The visitors would end the first quarter on a 9-2 run and would extend their lead to double digits early in the second period. The Tigers responded well, battling back and getting the lead to within three. It was as close as they’d get, as the Eagles were quick to respond with a run of their own. It became a theme throughout the rest of the game. Warsaw would chip away but the visitors would push the home team back before the threat of a Tiger takeover could ever materialize.

“They jumped out on us and I’m proud that our team didn’t give up,” Krebs said. “There were too many times where we’d start up a run but they’d beat us down the floor on the next possession and get an easy layup out of it. Small details like that are what we need to work on the most.”

Columbia City guards Kyndra Sheets and Addison Baker were a problem for Warsaw all night long. Sheets did most of her damage in the first half, scoring 15 of her 20 points in the game’s first 16 minutes. Baker picked up the slack in the second half, picking up 12 of her 17 points in the third and fourth quarter.

“No disrespect to anybody else we play this year, but I have a hard time believing we’ll run into a better guard combo than we did tonight,” Krebs said. “Those are two outstanding basketball players. But we need to communicate and operate better as a unit against a team like this. We had too many breakdowns.”

Brooke Zartman led the way for the Tiger scorers once again, finishing her night with 17 points. It’s the sixth straight game the freshman has scored at least 10 points. Abbey Peterson started and finished the game strong, contributing 14. Warsaw’s leading scorer, Brooke Winchester, was held to 12 points. One of the Tigers’ biggest strengths this season has been the play of its bench, with the second unit averaging a little over 18 points a game. The team was held to just nine bench points on Tuesday night, all coming from Joslyn Bricker.

The Tigers were able to hang around for the rest of the game but were never able to find that big run that got the team close enough to strike. Columbia City was able to extend its lead as far as 13 in the fourth quarter before a pair of Zartman threes put it back into single digits, where it would remain for the rest of the night.

Warsaw will look to begin a new win streak Saturday when the team hosts Wawasee. It’s the sixth and final game of the Tiger homestand.

“We found out that we do some things that we can get away with against some teams, but not teams like [Columbia City],” Krebs said. “We didn’t lose a championship tonight, but we will if we don’t learn from this.”