Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

February 27, 2013

CLASS 3A BOYS BASKETBALL SECTIONAL: Panthers, Vikings advance to semis

SYRACUSE — NorthWood and Tippecanoe Valley played like the favorites they are Tuesday night in the opening round of a Class 3A high school boys basketball sectional at Wawasee.

NorthWood’s Panthers rolled over the West Noble Chargers, 59-40, in the tipoff contest before Valley’s Vikings eliminated the host Wawasee Warriors, 65-42.

Semifinals are Friday night with 15-6 NorthWood meeting the 11-11 Fairfield Falcons at 6, followed at about 7:45 by 18-3 Valley and the 6-15 Lakeland Lakers.

The championship game is slated for 7:30 Saturday night with the winner advancing to a four-team regional March 9 at Blackford in Hartford City.

NorthWood took awhile to get untracked against a game West Noble club which was missing four of its top six players — one due to injury and three for disciplinary reasons.

The Panthers led 15-11 at the first stop and gradually pulled away, leading 30-23 at halftime and 44-29 through three quarters.

“The first half of a sectional opener is always difficult because for the first time all year you are playing to keep the season alive,” said NW coach Aaron Wolfe.

Jonathan Wilkinson, a 6-5 junior, had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Panthers. Zach Zurcher, 6-5 junior, tallied 12 points and 6-5 junior reserve Will Stueve 11.

NorthWood was especially tough around the basket, outrebounding the Chargers 34-22. The Panther defense helped create eight WN turnovers in the second period.

“In the second half, West Noble missed some perimeter shots and we capitalized on the other end to get a double-digit lead,” said Wolfe.

West Noble, finishing at 15-6, got 13 points from 6-6 junior Phil Miller and eight apiece from 5-7 senior Nick Thomas and 6-2 senior Armando Rosales.

“We were overanxious at the start and not patient at times,” said Wolfe.

“Wilkinson was our ‘X’ factor in this game. He brought good energy and leadership to the team.

“Fairfield is a more seasoned team than the first time we played them. They have made great improvement and present us with a challenge.”

Valley jumped to a quick 9-0 lead in the nightcap and overcame Wawasee’s slowdown tactics. It was 11-7, 22-14 and 42-24 at the first three stops.

Tanner Andrews, a 6-3 junior, had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Vikings.

Ben Shriver, 6-1 junior, scored 13 and 5-11 sophomore Alex Thacker 12.

Wawasee, with one of the younger sectional rosters in the state, closes a learning campaign with a 5-16 mark. The Warriors had two juniors, nine sophomores and three freshmen eligible for tournament play.

Gage Reinhard, 5-9 sophomore, led WHS with 13 points while tallying 11 each were 5-11 sophomore Jake Hutchinson and 6-1 sophomore Alex Clark. Stori Bright, 6-2 sophomore, grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

“We made some bad decisions early and the game got away from us,” said Warrior coach Phil Mishler.

“You can’t do that in a game with so few possessions.”

“With such a young team, we have been teaching fundamentals. So, X’s and O’s take a back seat. There’s not much room for adjustments, but the kids did the best they could.

“This team learned every time out and that should pay off in the future. They now better understand the speed of a varsity game. A lot of our off-season concentration will be on defense.”

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