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Written By Ink Free News / Sports on Sunday, January 3, 2021

Warsaw’s Bailie Stephens soars through the Chesterton defense for a layup Saturday during play at the TCU Lady Tiger Holiday Tournament. InkFreeNews photo by Mike Deak

By Mike Deak

WARSAW – Warsaw certainly acted like a team that was playing ahead of its past, sometimes against its own good. But in a contest Saturday afternoon that marked the 1,000th in the program’s history, Warsaw would have made its history proud with a roll of both Chesterton and North Judson to “win” the TCU Lady Tiger Holiday Tournament.

Warsaw 50, Chesterton 30

In the milestone game for Warsaw, it started about as hot as possible. Warsaw claimed a 10-4 lead after a quarter, but put on a clinic in the second quarter, holding the Trojans without a field goal while opening the quarter on a 9-0 run. After a Chesterton free throw at the 3:07 mark of the half, the Tigers would close the half scoring 11 of the next 13 points.

“I thought you saw a group, a team, that was playing more together,” said Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs. “Hence, the 23-point lead we had at halftime. Solid defensive effort. We were forcing them to play a higher tempo than what they wanted to play, especially after them playing the morning game. So I was pleased with the first and second quarters.”

Chesterton, no slouch coming in at 9-1 to start its season, would make a push in the third quarter, getting the score to 36-24 after a Ciara Bonner hit a three, but Kensie Ryman immediately went the other way and hit a three to put the Tigers back up 15.

Warsaw’s press defense, which faltered a little in the third, was otherwise suffocating. Kendall Wayne, Ryman and Bailie Stephens held Chesterton’s guard trio of Bonner, Nalani Malackowski and Ingrid Hurst to 2-21 shooting and eight total points. Warsaw’s overall defense held the Trojans to 23 points below their scoring average coming into the day.

Warsaw didn’t shoot the lights out, to be fair, making just 33 percent (17-52) of its shots and its top three scorers, Ryman, Stephens and Kacilyn Krebs, combining to go 10-29 from the floor. Ryman had 13 of those points, Stephens 11 and Krebs eight. Audrey Grimm and Abby Sanner, though, had 25 combined rebounds and 15 combined points.

The win was number 711 in the history of the program, which includes state titles in 1976 and 1978, as well as runner-up finishes in 1991 and 2004.

“That’s a huge milestone and a unique opportunity, a thousand games,” Krebs said. “You think about the fact that Warsaw has won 71 percent of those games, that’s a pretty impressive feat considering the way girls basketball has changed over the course of those thousand games.”

Continued Krebs, who coached at Goshen for 14 years before coming to Warsaw, “I know for 13 of the 14 years I was on the wrong end of that 71 percent. It’s a special place. When I had the opportunity to come here, you don’t turn down a place like this. It’s a special place to coach, a special place to play. It’s an honor to be part of that 1000th game. Proud of the fact that we were able to get a win and go down in the record book that we won the 1000th game.”

Warsaw 53, North Judson 32

Like its first contest, Warsaw (11-3) used a shutdown quarter to put away its latest victim. This time, it came in the third quarter as Warsaw’s 25-18 halftime lead ballooned to a 16-point advantage after a 13-4 third stanza.

Judson, which featured All-Stater Lilliann Frasure and came in after handing Chesterton a 40-31 loss in the first round robin contest of the day, couldn’t hang with Warsaw’s size.

Sanner had 15 points and eight rebounds, Krebs jumped outside and hit four three-pointers and Grimm had nine rebounds.

Ryman added 13 points and six assists.

The Blue Jays (6-4), which were a Class 2-A regional finalist in 2019, had Frasure lead the way with 11 points and five rebounds. Frasure would later be named the Holiday Tournament MVP. Her teammate, Abby Chambers, would be named to the All-Tournament Team. Sanner, Krebs and Ryman were named All-Tournament for Warsaw, and Emma Schmidt of Chesterton completed the All-Tournament list.

The format of the tournament was changed on Thursday as Rochester would have created a four-team bracket, but the Zebras had a COVID case appear within the program and the team had to drop out last minute.

Warsaw’s championship, which was given to the team that finished undefeated on the day, is the 15th in the 46-year history of the tournament, and the team’s first since 2017.

Elsewhere in the day’s proceedings, JV games were played in between the varsity contests. Warsaw won both of its contests, 57-40 over Chesterton, and 33-16 over North Judson. Chesterton beat North Judson 31-22.

Posted In: Girl's Sports > Basketball