SYRACUSE – Sectional tournament time can be seen as a chance to leave the past behind. Wawasee’s girls basketball team will take that approach this year after an 11-game losing streak during the first half of the season left them with a less-than-stellar record.

Last year’s surprise sectional runner-up opens play in the Class 3A West Noble Sectional at 6 p.m. Tuesday against Lakeland. The Lady Lakers won by 20 in a Nov. 13 game at Lakeland, and Wawasee head coach Matt Carpenter said his team is looking forward to a rematch.

“The sectional is tough. Four teams come in with at least 14 wins, and the two teams that played for the sectional title last year, us and Fairfield, are the only two who don’t ,” he said. “So I’m looking at the sectional as a balanced field. There wasn’t going to be a great draw for anybody.

“But the fact that we get another chance at Lakeland is nice. We played them early in the year when we weren’t playing very well, and I’m excited for the rematch. Dan (Huizenga, Lakeland coach) has done a really nice job up there with some young talent that’s blossomed over the last couple of years, so they’re not quite as young anymore. They play an aggressive style of defense, a lot of 1-3-1 zone and a lot of presses. For us to have a shot against Lakeland we’re going to have to control the turnovers and get good shots every time.”

Carpenter said the Lady Warriors have a recipe for success in the sectional.

“Usually when we play well, it’s because of two things; our turnovers have decreased to a reasonable range, and we’re shooting the basketball a little bit better. So it’s a combination: more possessions leads to more shots, and putting the ball in the bucket at a little higher clip,” he said.

Wawasee’s leading scorer is senior captain Casey Schroeder, who averages around 10 points a game, about twice as many points as any other Lady Warrior. She’s been playing while recovering from knee surgery before the season.

“Everyone comes in with the mindset of ‘we’ve got to slow Schroeder down,’” Carpenter said. “And we have to be cognizant of the fact that she’s still not 100 percent. The girl’s playing with a lot of toughness and maturity, physically and mentally, to try and lead our team from a captain’s standpoint on the floor and also lead our team offensively.

“She does attract a lot of attention; she can shoot the ball at a high (percentage) clip, and is also becoming more mobile as she recovers from her ACL surgery. She’s making progress, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say she’s not at 100 percent yet. There are some good days and some bad days where she’s hurting and not moving really well. But she’s getting more good days now, which is a good sign.”

Others pitching in include seniors Caitlin Wortinger, junior Madison Mottern and freshman Jada Carter.

“Caitlin and Madison give us some size and strength inside. Caitlin is our best rebounder and gives us an inside presence.  Madison’s been a vocal leader, helping to support Casey and support the team. She’s been getting after it inside, giving us a threat inside, and that’s going to be important come sectional time,” Carpenter said.

“Carter, as a freshman, is definitely coming into her own. She’s started a lot of games and played a lot of minutes for us. She’s got to get stronger. And she does have her freshman moments. But she’s also had her moments where she’s showed a lot of maturity. She put up 17 points against Elkhart Memorial the other day, but then she struggled to shoot the ball against Whitko.”

The winner of the Wawasee-Lakeland game takes on Tippecanoe Valley in a Friday semifinal.