GOSHEN - The Warsaw Tigers boys’ basketball team found themselves trailing the RedHawks 26-21 at halftime and suffering some inside shooting woes. The orange and black, however, reversed their fortunes with opportunistic inside scoring and solid defense in the second half to erase the deficit, and beat the Goshen RedHawks 48-38, boosting their Northern Lakes Conference record to 3-0.

The Tigers opened the third stanza with a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the ballgame 28-26. The evening became more interesting later in that period when Warsaw, who increased their lead to 37-30, twisted the dagger in their host’s hearts when senior Caleb Sands streaked through the lane for three consecutive layups: one at the end of the third period, two more to start the fourth frame. Sophomore Jaxon Gould was driving the baseline when he found Sands for the first two scores, and Judah Simfukwe punctuated Sands’ run with another sharp pass inside for an easy two.

Gould and Simfukwe, who combined for seven of Warsaw’s 13 turnovers in the loss to Penn, bounced back last night with seven (Gould 5, Simfukwe 2) of the Tigers’ 15 assists for the contest.

“We really emphasized at half time that we would get lane touches on every possession.” Tiger Head Coach Matt Moore said about the Tigers second-half success inside the paint. “We got some curl action for some easy layups. Once you break that tie and get a lead you can space them out and play to your strengths.”

Warsaw outscored Goshen 22-6 inside the paint.

With Sands’ mini-run the Tigers held a 43-32 lead on their hosts while another senior, Ben Bergen, finished off the evening’s scoring with a 5-0 mini-run of his own. His 3-point basket and a driving layup gave Warsaw its greatest lead of the night, 48-34. Two late Goshen baskets wrapped the final score up at 48-38.

Goshen was the team with hot hand in the opening period, hitting four shots beyond the arc, giving them a 13-8 lead after one quarter elapsed. The two teams each scored 13 tallies to reach the 31-26 halftime score.

The game was relatively clean for both squads. The Tigers had a season best seven turnovers while Goshen only had 5 miscues. Fouls were relatively low as well, with Warsaw committing a season low ten while the RedHawks committed 6 of their own.

The Tigers played remarkable defense against Goshen point guard, junior Drew Hogan, who came into the contest averaging 17.9 points per game but did not score his first basket until 1:17 remained in the third stanza. Hogan, who scored 30 points against Warsaw in last year’s sectional opener, finished with four on the night, but found other teammates open, dishing five assists.

Goshen was led, instead, by sophomore Quinn Bechtel’s 14 points, and 6’3” sophomore Deecon Hill’s 10 points. Hill was shut out in the second half mostly by the defensive efforts of Warsaw’s 6’6” junior wing Jackson Dawson.

The RedHawks connected 59% of their shots in the first half but slipped to 32% in the second half finishing 16 for 36 (44%) for the night.

Warsaw scoring came courtesy of Gould (11 points), Simfukwe (10 points), Sands (8 points on 4 for 4 shooting), Bergen (7 points), Jackson Dawson (5 points), Kyle Dawson (4 points) and Russ Winchester (3 points).

Moore, regarding Sands’ effort said, “Caleb’s kind of unconventional in his style, but he doesn’t get outside of what he does. He’s one of those guys who’s in (early workouts) every game day. I told him this morning we want some Big Boss Barbeque, so you need to make some buckets!”

The Tigers shot 40% in the first half, then ripped the cords inside on 12 of 17 (71%) in the second half. They also dished out 15 assists on 20 made shots. Jackson Dawson (four feeds), and Bishop Walters (2 dimes) contributed to the team’s passing effort.

Warsaw’s JV squad (7-5, 2-1) defeated their hosts 43-31. Kyle Dawson led the charge with 17 points and 9 rebounds. Drew Heckaman added 10 points and 2 blocked shots. Nick Katris added 7 points for the winners.

The varsity Tigers (7-6, 3-0) host the Concord Minutemen Friday January 22nd with a 6:15 JV tip-off.