Warsaw senior Jaxson Gould of Warsaw drives around the defense of 
Wawasee's Keaton Dukes during the fourth quarter.
Warsaw senior Jaxson Gould of Warsaw drives around the defense of Wawasee's Keaton Dukes during the fourth quarter.
Not that he was unknown before, but Jaxson Gould has sent a message to opposing defenses the last two games.

After scoring a career-high 32 points against Crown Point a week ago, the 6-foot-3 junior guard netted 31 points and grabbed seven rebounds Friday night, leading the Warsaw Tigers to a 61-41 win over the visiting Wawasee Warriors in the Northern Lakes Conference opener for both teams.

Gould, whose dad Ryan Gould scored 1,034 points and was Triton High School’s career leading scorer for a number of years, poured in 21 points in the first half against Wawasee, and the Tigers never trailed en route to the 20-point win.

“He has the ability to pick his spots,” Warsaw coach Matt Moore said of Gould. “He’s such a unique player in that he can get a lot of shots off, but he’s such a quick leaper, especially when he gets to the basket area.

“He does a lot of really good things like tipping the ball, getting second-chance opportunities. When his shot’s falling and he’s able to get downhill he’s an effective player and he kind of set the tone tonight, getting us off the ground early. He was able to get to the free throw line, he found other guys, and he did a lot of good things. He’s a pretty complete player right now when he’s hitting on all cylinders.”

Gould scored 10 of the Tigers’ first 15 points, and the hosts led 9-7 after one quarter of play, 31-20 at halftime and 41-33 at the end of the third quarter.

Wawasee cut the Warsaw lead to single-digits at 48-39, but the Tigers closed the game on a 13-2 run, beating the Warriors for the 14th time in the last 15 meetings.

“You have to still think offensively,” said Moore. “It’s a race to 60, it’s a race to 62 or something like that.

“We’ll pick a number, and we’ll have the guys focus on still being aggressive and still taking good shots. It’s not just about stopping them, we’ve also got to still score, and I think when teams go on runs you have to match those runs. That’s what you saw … we hit a three in the corner, we got some steals, and we got some things in transition.

“That changes the dynamic of the game, and then it’s overwhelming, there’s just too many possessions in the game for them to make up.”

With the win, Warsaw improved to 3-2 overall, while Wawasee fell to 3-3.

Senior Judah Simfukwe, who missed last week’s game with Crown Point with a finger injury, was 6 of 8 from the field and scored 13 points in the win.

“That was big,” Moore said of Simfukwe being back in the lineup. “He does so many things as running mate with Jaxson. His ability to handle the ball, his ability to do so many other things that go unnoticed, it was just big having him back.

“He’s a calming presence. It’s nice having a senior like that back. We’ve gotta get him going a little bit. He shoots a high percentage, that’s who he is and what he does, and it’s nice to have a guy like that who’s a backcourt mate with Jaxson.”

Junior Russ Winchester chipped in with 10 points.

For the Warriors, whose 21 turnovers turned into 23 points for the Tigers, junior Maddux Everingham and junior Collin Roberson scored 10 points each.

Senior Caden Welty finished with nine points, while Keaton Dukes chipped in with seven points and seven rebounds.

The Warriors are in action again Tuesday when they host Columbia City.

Warsaw will entertain Fort Wayne North tonight at 8 p.m. in the final game of the six-game Champions of Character Classic at Grace College.

Prior to the start of Friday’s varsity contest, former Warsaw coach Doug Ogle was presented a Northern Lakes Conference Service Award.

Ogle was the varsity coach of the Tigers for 18 years, leading them to 275 wins and the 2010 Class 4A state runner-up.

Prior to his tenure at the varsity level, Ogle was the JV coach under Al Rhodes for 15 seasons, posting a record of 270-30 that included a 69-game win streak.