Photo by Drew Fritz/Times-Union
New head coach Matt Moore keeps a close eye on the action during the Tigers’ dominating win over Indianapolis Shortridge.
Photo by Drew Fritz/Times-Union New head coach Matt Moore keeps a close eye on the action during the Tigers’ dominating win over Indianapolis Shortridge.
The Matt Moore era began Wednesday night in the Tiger Den with an unfamiliar boys’ high school basketball opening-night opponent, the Indianapolis Shortridge Blue Devils.

Warsaw, trailing 8-6 mid-way through the opening period, used a 24-7 run for the remainder of the first half, as they successfully familiarized themselves with their guest’s tendencies, and clinched a 63-43 opening night win.

Shortridge, Indianapolis’s oldest public high school (est. 1864), opened the action with two three-point buckets to take a 6-2 lead. Tiger mentor, Moore, commented on the surprising early minutes.

“(We need to) identify things early in quarters and recognize their tendencies. Our guys need to make adjustments (on the court), not just when we come to the bench.”

Warsaw wings, 6’6” junior Jackson Dawson, and 6’4” senior Luke Adamiec blended length above the rim, inside strength and quick vertical movement up the court to the tune of 9 first half points apiece, punctuated by Adamiec’s buzzer-beating 3-point bucket to close the first half with a 30-15 lead.

Adamiec, who led all scorers with 17 points was simply glad to be playing basketball given the recently worsening pandemic circumstances.

The senior said, “Who knew In March when (this) began, we would have begged for basketball games now, so I know not to take it all for granted. So, I go out there and give 100% the whole time. I’m just having fun out there.”

The physical appearance of the Tigers during pregame warmups was one of visibly added body mass to go with its generous distribution of height. Any perception these big men were simply maulers and not ballers was erased by two cagers who were defensive lineman from the Tiger football team. 6’5” 220 lb. sophomore Russ Winchester, and 6’5” 230 lb. junior Kyle Dawson made the statement for Warsaw. Winchester’s smooth shooting touch, (two first half three pointers), and Dawson’s three assists were among many of the evening’s treats.

Adamiec commented on the host’s passing (13 assists on 25 total field goals made), noting, “It feels good when all the defense collapses on you and you can find (other) open shooters to hit the shot for you.”

Coach Moore added, “That’s obviously going to be a point of emphasis for us, the ability to get ball movement. The three thigs we emphasize are ball movement, player movement and spacing. Our ball movement was good. The more guys we can get to do that, the more enjoyable this offense will become for them.”

The offense’s core is a sense of urgency on made buckets as well as missed buckets; not just quick outlet passes from rebounds. They wasted no time moving vertically on each possession.

This style of play makes for great cardio from post player to point guard. The Tiger guards added their speed, aggressive play, and touch to the list of the evening’s accomplishments.

Sophomore guard Jaxon Gould (10 points, 4 assists, 6 steals) commented, “On makes and misses we’re looking to push the ball up the floor. We’re making extra passes to find a layup, or an ‘and-1.’ if we can get it going, we’ll be in pretty good shape. I’m feeling pretty sore, but I’ll be ready to go Saturday”

Junior Judah Simfukwe (12 points, 3 takeaways), and senior Ben Bergen (2 points, 2 thefts) helped Gould perform an exorcism of the Blue Devils from the gym. When big men weren’t feeding them on numerous easy buckets underneath, they were returning the favor. Warsaw, as a result, nailed a scorching 21 of 34 two-point shot attempts, 62%, with a combination of good ball movement, and some coast-to-coast fireworks in the new offense’s framework.

Guess what! The Tigers, according to Moore, will keep working to increase the pace, so don’t step out for popcorn in the midst of the action!

Moore said, “I would like to see us play with more pace. I don’t think we’re playing as hard as we can yet. Right now, these guys know they’re gonna get a three-minute stretch, then somebody’s comin for them. Inside that three (minutes) they need to learn to play harder and learn to exert themselves to both guard, and offensively cut, the way we need them to move.”

Shortridge’s Will Smith and Ethan Powell shared team scoring honors with 12 points apiece and added 7 and 5 caroms, respectively. Avery Giles added 8 points and 4 steals.

Warsaw’s scoring efforts were rounded out by Jackson Dawson (11 points, 8 boards, 2 assists), Winchester (6 points), senior Caleb Sands (3 points and solid defense), and Kyle Dawson (2 points).

The orange and black were 25-49 overall from the field including a paltry 4-15 outside the arc.

The junior varsity Tigers launched their game with a 10-0 run on their way to a 62-18 win. Kyle Dawson (15 points), another football lineman showing basketball finesse, junior Isaiah Courtois (14 points) and sophomore Drew Heckaman (14 points) led the offensive charge. Nick Katris added six feeds.

Warsaw hosts Coach Moore’s high school alma mater, Columbia City, Saturday night. JV tip-off is 6:15 p.m., followed by varsity action.