GOSHEN — Lenny Krebs never forgets where his head coaching career began. That’s why he was so emotional leading the Warsaw girls basketball team past Goshen, 42-28, Saturday night in the gym he called home for 14 seasons.
“An emotional one,” Krebs said. “I love this place. I spent 14 years of my life here. I love the people that I had a chance to work with. I love the kids I had an opportunity to coach. Mr. (Goshen athletic director Larry) Kissinger gave me the first opportunity to become a head coach, and for that, I’ll forever be thankful.”
Krebs is in his third season coaching Warsaw, so playing his former school isn’t anything new. In his first trip back in the 2017-18 season, the Tigers lost, 39-26, to the RedHawks.
“That first time back, I think the emotion was really raw,” Krebs said. “That was more just the raw emotion of being back at Goshen. … This was more just the reflection and more heartfelt love that I have for this place. You don’t work some place 14 years and not develop a love for it.”
Last year, Warsaw beat Goshen at home, 45-39. After Saturday night’s win, Krebs improves to 43-24 in two-plus seasons with the Tigers. He went 129-174 as coach of the RedHawks from 2004 to 2017.
Saturday’s wire-to-wire win by Warsaw (13-6, 5-1 Northern Lakes Conference) spoiled Senior Night for four Goshen seniors: Hailey Mast, Reagan Mast, Lizzie Kirkton and Hannah LaFary.
RedHawk coach Shaun Hill has been with the senior group since they were freshman, serving as an assistant coach under Krebs for their first year before becoming their head coach the past three seasons.
“They play hard for me,” said Hill of the seniors. “I appreciate their energy, their toughness. They’re gritty; they’re the type of kids you just like being around. Love those kids.”
Goshen (15-4, 2-3 NLC) had a hard time executing in the first quarter, as they committed seven turnovers in the period. This allowed Warsaw to build a 12-3 lead after one frame.
“Our primary goal was to make sure that the possessions were ramped up,” Krebs said. “Goshen likes that low-possession game, and we wanted to ramp up the possessions and we wanted to ramp up the pressure a little bit.”
“We were hesitant,” Hill added. “They pressured us, but it was one girl up for the most part. Kudos to them, that’s what I would do against us. That was a great game plan. We just didn’t take care of the basketball, and that was one of our keys: we had to value that basketball to get the win.”
The Tigers’ lead reached as high as 14 before the RedHawks were able to get within nine, 20-11, at halftime.
Timely 3-pointers in the second half allowed Warsaw to stay ahead of Goshen. As time was running down at the end of the third quarter, Tiger senior Brielle Harrison drained a 30-foot ‘3’ as the buzzer sounded to give Warsaw a 14-point advantage heading into the fourth.
Goshen was able to cut that deficit to eight two minutes into the final period, but another clutch trey — this time from Lenny’s daughter, sophomore Kacilyn Krebs — made it a double-digit lead once again for Warsaw.
“Anytime you can keep it double digits, keep it three possessions or more in the NLC, you’re probably in better shape than when you let it get down to six or so,” Lenny Krebs said.
The RedHawks made it a single-digit game only one more time in the final five minutes after that Kacilyn Krebs’ ‘3.’
Warsaw was led by Harrison’s 11 points. Sophomore Abby Sanner had 10, Kacilyn Krebs six, junior Kensie Ryman and senior Kaylee Patton five each, junior Audrey Grimm four and junior Kendall Wayne one. The Tigers host Homestead Tuesday.
Goshen junior Brynn Shoup-Hill finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore Tori Eldridge chipped in six points, Kirkton five and Reagan Mast and junior Megan Gallagher two each. The RedHawks travel to Jimtown Tuesday. Now that their chances of winning the NLC are no more, Hill wants to get his team ready for the postseason.
“We have to remember we still have opportunities to get ready for the tournament,” Hill said. “We still have three more game-type practices to get ready for the tournament. It’s a tough sectional where we could see pretty much anyone we’ve lost to right now, and then we have Penn and Elkhart Central to worry about. A very strong sectional; we have goals in that.”