After building some confidence over the weekend with two victories at the DAC/NLC Shootout, the Warsaw Lady Tigers basketball team looked to keep it rolling against a Penn team it has struggled against in recent years. There were no struggles on Tuesday night however, as Warsaw throttled Penn 69-50 at the Tiger Den for their first win over the Lady Kingsmen since the 2016-17 season.
“This is a team that we have struggled to conquer, myself included,” Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs said after the game. “We didn’t win a championship tonight but we proved to ourselves that we can play with any team on our schedule. This was huge for our confidence.”
The Lady Tigers were able to use their signature lights-out shooting to begin the game on fire, going on a lightning-quick 8-0 run over the first two minutes of the game. The three ball was falling early, with Brooke Zartman and Joslyn Bricker each hitting a shot from distance in the early going. After the long ball by Bricker extended the lead to 8-0, Penn called a quick timeout to stop the bleeding.
The break in action would work wonders for the Lady Kingsmen, who came out of the timeout looking like a different team. The visitors’ defense tightened up, forcing Warsaw to make bad decisions with the ball, leading to a plethora of turnovers for the home side. Penn got it going offensively as well, with freshman Anna McCullough getting it going down low to trim away at the Warsaw lead.
After a quarter, the Lady Tigers led by just one. The game’s second quarter began much like the first did, with Warsaw stringing points together in a hurry to create an avalanche for Penn to deal with. Zartman really got it going in the second, hitting three three-pointers to help space the floor and open up the lane inside for the punishing Brooke Winchester to do damage down low.
The run orchestrated by the Lady Tiger sharpshooters led to the home side extending its lead to double figures for the
Sophomore Brook Zartman of Warsaw hits one of her seven three-pointers en route to scoring a game-high 25 points. Photo by Gary Nieter
first time in the game. As was the case in the first quarter, the Lady Kingsmen saw the advantage Warsaw had built up, scoffed at it, and began mounting a comeback. Penn was able to use the three ball to their advantage during this burst, cutting the lead down to just three while Warsaw had suddenly gone cold from their end of the court.
The Penn run was finally stopped in its tracks when junior guard Braylie Chastain hit a big corner three to end the Lady Tiger drought. This would provide exactly what the home side needed, as not long after, Aleix Neely would drain a shot from deep to extend the Warsaw lead back up to nine, where it would sit at halftime.
Another quick Zartman three got the lead back up to double digits in the beginning of the third. This would kickstart yet another run that saw the Lady Tigers extend their lead once again, this time to 17, its largest of the game thus far. Bricker would hit another deep shot, Winchester continued to make Penn defenders pay in the paint, and the entire team anchored down on defense to keep the visitors from chipping away once again.
“We are a very tough team to play against,” Krebs said. Until you play with us or against us you really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. You can come back on us once or twice but to try to do that over and over, it’s just not going to happen.”
Another three by Neely would result in a Penn timeout with two and a half minutes remaining in the third. This time though, the break was not enough to galvanize the Lady Kingsmen. Warsaw continued to pour it on after the timeout, going up by over 20 on a layup by Lucy Andrews. Andrews, one of the better players on the Warsaw junior varsity team, got extended minutes in the second half of this one.
A couple more jumpers by Zartman and Bricker would get the lead up to 24 heading into the fourth and final quarter. The lead didn’t do much shrinking in the fourth, as Warsaw continued to pour it on. Winchester hit a layup in the opening minute to joing Zartman and Bricker in double figures. In the game’s closing minutes, Warsaw kept up the pace, extending its lead to 30 as the contest winded down.
The visitors would not go away quietly, going on a short run at the end of the game to make the final score more respectable, but not enough time remained for Penn to put a serious dent in the deficit.
Zartman led all scorers with 25 points to go with five rebounds and three steals. Bricker had 16 points and five rebounds, while Winchester added 13 points and seven rebounds. It was the first game this season that Winchester did not have a double-double. Neely finished her night with eight points.
The Lady Tigers (4-2) are off for the rest of Thanksgiving week and will return to action on Tuesday against NorthWood to tip off Northern Lakes Conference play.
“We’ve had some big wins, we’ve had some bad losses, that’s what a basketball season is all about,” Krebs said. “We might play some games down the stretch where we play better than we did tonight but lose because we’re going up against a team that’s better than us and that’s okay. It’s all about the process of getting better.”