Wawasee sophomore Molly Beer draws a foul while going up for a shot against Hadley West of Manchester during Wednesday night's game at Wawasee. Photos by Gary Nieter
Wawasee sophomore Molly Beer draws a foul while going up for a shot against Hadley West of Manchester during Wednesday night's game at Wawasee. Photos by Gary Nieter
Hoosier Hysteria was alive and well at the Hardwood Teepee at Wawasee High School Wednesday night as the Lady Warriors hosted Manchester in the tip-off game of the 2022-23 high school basketball season. Wawasee fans were able to spend their drive home happy as the Lady Warriors dominated the Lady Squires 50-32 to start the season at 1-0.

It was the first game and first victory for new Wawasee head coach Derek Gilreath, who took over the program for Matt Carpenter after the latter stepped down in March. Gilreath previously served as the junior varsity coach at Goshen High School.

“It feels good to get that first win, I was pleased with our intensity and effort, but we have to work on some situational things,” Gilreath said.

Manchester would score the opening points of the game on a Kim Schroll layup before giving up the next nine to Wawasee. Despite not having a single senior on the roster, the Warriors looked like the more experience team on the court by playing a strict zone defense, getting into passing lanes and taking the smarter shots.

“We always tell the girls our goal is to pursue excellence,” Gilreath said. “We know we’re not going to be perfect but that needs to be the goal. We did a really good job in the first half.”  

Leading the way for Wawasee was sophomore Olivia Horn, who impressed last season in her playing time as a freshman. Horn would have six points and six rebounds in the first eight minutes of the game, scoring on high-percentage shots by craftily cutting to the basket. Horn finished her night just one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds.

On the other side of the ball, Warrior junior Kaydence Shepherd was a menace for the Manchester offense to deal with. Picking up three steals in the first quarter, Shepherd used her defense to create some very easy Wawasee offense.

After scoring a field goal in the first 30 seconds of the game, the Lady Squires would not get another shot to drop until two minutes remained in the opening period. Some good offense from Horn and a couple tough threes from junior Brooklynn Gibson saw Wawasee up 20-7 after a quarter.

The lead would only extend in the second, as the Warriors would start the quarter with a 7-2 run spanning the first three minutes. Manchester senior Olivia Neal would score four points in the quarter to try to keep her team close but Wawasee would be too much. The lead would get as high as 25 in the period as six different Warriors would make it onto the scoreboard. By the time the game was over, all nine Warriors would have points.

“We don’t run anything for any one player. We try to move the ball and get the best possible shot for any one that’s open,” Gilreath said.

Things slowed down dramatically in the third quarter as Wawasee did not make a field goal in the period. The team did score five points, all on free throws by Lydia Stookey. Manchester was unable to chip into the lead despite playing much better defense and the Warriors went into the fourth still up by 24.

With the game’s result already decided, possessions for both teams got longer in the fourth quarter as the two sides began experimenting with some different offensive sets. It was a great quarter for the Lady Squires’ Brookelynn Buzzard, who scored ten of her eleven points in the period. Also having a big second half was Wawasee’s Mackenzie Hackleman, who picked up five of her six steals in the latter half.

Manchester travels to Triton on Friday while Wawasee plays its first road game Saturday at Prairie Heights.