Photo by Drew Fritz/Times-Union
Junior guard Judah Simfukwe leaps for an acrobatic score over Indians star Kamari Slaughter.
Photo by Drew Fritz/Times-Union Junior guard Judah Simfukwe leaps for an acrobatic score over Indians star Kamari Slaughter.
WINONA LAKE – Hot second half shooting helped the Warsaw Tigers put away the  Portage Indians in the fourth annual Champions of Character Classic in the Grace College’s Manahan Orhtopaedic Capital Center Saturday.

Warsaw shot 57% from two-point field goal range in the second half to put away the Indians 48-32, moving to 5-3 for the season. The Tigers are now 2-1 against their Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) opponents with two more DAC foes remaining on the slate.

The Tigers were also dominant on the boards, snaring 18 offensive rebounds for the game. A large portion of their offensive boards came in the first half where the orange and black hit 9 of 27 field goal attempts for 33%.

Warsaw head coach Matt Moore focused on the obvious takeaway from the rough shooting first half.

“When you miss a lot of shots” Moore said, “there’s a lot of opportunities to get offensive rebounds. We can focus on the misses or celebrate the fact that we continued to pursue and give ourselves more chances.”

The Tigers ended the first frame trailing Portage 10-8 but turned things around quickly in the second period outscoring Portage 14-6, taking a 22-16 lead to the locker room at halftime. Warsaw held its opponent to 25% shooting accuracy in the first half, enabling them to turn around the lead and stay ahead for good.

Warsaw widened their lead by twelve after three stanzas, outscoring Portage 12-6 to stay in command 34-22 before finishing the evening’s action adding four more points to their lead to clinch the 48-32 win.

The Indians nailed 12 of 38 (32%) from the field including 4-14 (29%) beyond the arc, and they connected on all four free throw attempts. They were led in scoring by Lawrence Harris (9 points, 5 rebounds), and Jaelon Hollies (6 points). Kamari Slaughter was Portage’s leading rebounder with 6 caroms.

The Tigers finished the evening’s action hitting 21 of 50 (42%) from the field, 1 of 5 beyond the three- point line, and 5 for 10 (50%) from the charity stripe. Warsaw registered their fewest trey attempts for a game so far. Warsaw adjusted its game to the opportunities Portage afforded them.

Moore said, regarding the adjustment, “Each game for us is going to look different because we are able to play a variety of styles, whichever the game demands. Saturday, we didn’t need to look for perimeter threes as much because we were able to dominate shots in the lane.”

The Tigers were led in scoring by Jaxon Gould’s 14 points along with 4 assists followed by Judah Simfukwe (8 points, team-leading 8 rebounds). Brock Poe and Bishop Walters added five apiece. Ben Bergen, Drew Heckaman, and Jackson Dawson chipped in with four points each. Russ Winchester added two points, while Caleb Sands and Kyle Dawson each contributed one point.

Warsaw makes its second of three scheduled trips to The Region this season Wednesday December 23rd for a 5:00 p.m. Eastern freshman time tip-off against the Valparaiso Vikings. All three games will be played on the main court. The Tigers three losses to date were on the road, but according to Coach Moore it’s not the factor for predicting the outcome of future Warsaw wins and losses.

Moore said, “I don’t worry about playing home or away. Our focus is the process of preparing our guys for what they need to do to come back from a Friday night game and hit the road for a great effort. Valpo is the only game this week. We will be down a few guys due to injury, but I expect us to play hard and play well.’

The Tigers completed their third consecutive week of Friday-Saturday back-to-back contests. It’s an essential part of the team’s preparation in the early season to successfully handle the rigor of the post-season tournament schedule.

The Tigers currently stand at 5-3 overall and 1-0 in the Northern lakes Conference. One could also say they’re 2-1 in the DAC with more to come.