Sophomore Luke Bricker of Warsaw makes an acrobatic reverse layup while drawing a foul from Wawasee's Collin Ziebarth during Friday night's game at Wawasee. Photos by Gary Nieter
Sophomore Luke Bricker of Warsaw makes an acrobatic reverse layup while drawing a foul from Wawasee's Collin Ziebarth during Friday night's game at Wawasee. Photos by Gary Nieter
SYRACUSE — Warsaw deftly distributed the basketball early and kept on doing it on the way to besting Wawasee 63-40 in the Northern Lakes Conference boys basketball opener for both teams Friday, Dec. 16 at the Hardwood Teepee.

“Ball movement for us leads to high-percentage shots and we have a lot of guys who aren’t selfish in that sense,” said Tigers coach Matt Moore. “It’s fun to coach when they’re playing in that rhythm together.

“You’ve got to respect the skill, but it is the passing that sets the table for us.”

Led by senior Jaxson Gould’s four, Warsaw (3-2, 1-0) dished 12 assists. The Tigers made 12-of-18 shots from the floor in the second half and 25-of-44 for the game (7-of-15 from 3-point range). Dropping in treys for the victors were Jaxson Gould (4), sophomore Luke Bricker (2) and junior Luke Yeager (1).

Leading scorers for Tigers were Jaxon Gould (23 points), senior Drew Heckaman (10), Bricker (9), sophomore Trai Davis (8), sophomore Brandt Martin (6) and Yeager (5).

Pacing the Warriors were sophomore Myles Everingham (13), junior Carson Smith (9), sophomore Maddux Everingham (7) and junior Collin Ziebarth (6).

Wawasee canned 13-of-38 fielders (8-of-18 behind the arc). Making 3’s were Myles Everingham (3), Smith (3) and senior Collin Roberson (1).

At the foul stripe, Warsaw was 6-of-12 and the Warriors 8-of-13.

The Tigers never let Wawasee (2-4, 0-1) get closer than 13 points in the fourth quarter. Warsaw took a 46-32 advantage into the final stanza and held a 37-18 edge at the 4:53 mark of the third quarter.

“(Our defensive effort) was exceptional,” said Moore. “The younger guys did a good job of staying attached to the (Everingham) twins.

“That was the focus for us. We wanted to make their shots difficult. We did a great job of being physical.”

The Katris brothers — seniors Theo (football) and Nick (basketball season opener) — were lost for the season because of injury and Jaxson Gould is making his way back.

“We’re playing a lot of sophomores at this point that probably would have been junior varsity guys at the start of the year. They’re filling in their roles and figuring out how they can help us.

“I look for us to continue to improve as we go through the season.”

The Tigers led 31-13 at halftime. Warsaw was ahead by as much as as 19 points in the second quarter at 29-10. The closest spread was 12 at 22-10.

The visitors out rebounded the hosts 20-8 in the first half, including 12-6 on the defensive boards.

At the end of the first quarter, Warsaw was up 17-6. The biggest differential in the opening period was 17-3. The Tigers tallied the game’s first 12 points.

“We didn’t set the tone defensively,” said Wawasee coach Jon Everingham. “We just let them do whatever they wanted.

“We looked like the Washington Generals (against Harlem Globetrotters) tonight, just chasing them.”

Led by Heckaman (5), Davis (4) and Carson Gould (4), Warsaw collected 33 rebounds.

“When we get the first rebound and get out in transition we’re tough to play against,” said Moore. “This year we’ve haven’t rebounded well so that was a big emphasis for us.

“Five guys have to do their part every time and rebound.”

The Warriors collected 18 caroms with Myles Everingham, Smith and senior Peyton Felger gathering three apiece.

Wawasee committed seven turnovers (two in the second half) and the Tigers six (two in the first half).

Warsaw now leads the all-time series 61-15, including the last eight meetings and 15 of 16 dating back to 2008.

In the junior varsity game, Warsaw topped Wawasee 41-35.

Sophomores Drew Sullivan (20 points) and Robbie Finlinson (19) and led the JV Tigers (3-2) in scoring while the JV Warriors (2-4) were guided by freshman Nolan Holzwart (11) and juniors Weston DeLong (7) and Darius Lewis (7). Warsaw outscored the hosts 21-8 in the fourth quarter.

Next up: South Bend Saint Joseph vs. Warsaw in Game 4 of Champions of Character Classic at Grace College at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17; Wawasee at Columbia City Tuesday, Dec. 20.