SPIRITED RALLY COMES UP SHORT
StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Sunday, December 30, 2018
WARSAW – Warsaw was in need of a Christmas miracle, and almost got one. But a storybook ending at the Lady Tiger Tourney came up a few pages short as Warsaw couldn’t catch Perry Meridian in the championship game of the girls basketball bonanza.
Tigers Feeling Torn
Warsaw found itself down by as much as 13 points in its morning game against Huntington North. But it found itself down much more after the game following the news that teammate Kaylee Patton may be lost to a torn ACL.
Warsaw would rally in the second half to beat Huntington North, 45-35, coming back from a 22-9 deficit late in the second quarter. Patton, however, would go down with the knee injury in the fourth quarter and not return. The tear was not officially declared pending an MRI, but the junior sparkplug’s season is likely over.
Patton had 11 points to that point, and Warsaw stepped up as a whole, scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter to complete the rally. Patton started the rally with a pair of threes, and Maddie Ryman scored four points in the fourth and 11 of her team-high 14 points in the second half.
Warsaw was 9-12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and 12-19 overall from the stripe.
“It was tough after the Huntington game in the lockerroom,” said Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs. “We had girls crying, the girls really feeling bad for Kaylee. My heart breaks for her, you never want to see someone get hurt. Especially a knee where her junior year is probably over. But, if anything, as a coach I was encouraged to see her teammates feeling for her. It was encouraging to see them rally together a little bit for their teammate.”
A Little Too Late
Much like in the morning game, Warsaw’s slow start put them behind the eight ball quickly. And like the Huntington game, the Tigers rallied in the second half. But Perry Meridian held off Warsaw for a 58-55 win in the championship game of the tourney.
Behind the big play of 6-3 combo guard Caitie Baird, Meridian was scorching from the floor out of the gate. Baird, who is heading to Stanford next fall on a volleyball scholarship, created chaos in the Warsaw defense with a pair of made threes, then ducked inside to hit two bunnies in the post. Behind her 17 first-half points, the Falcons were up by an overwhelming 41-19 count in the second quarter.
Warsaw would make a mini 5-0 run to end the half, then opened with a 13-3 run to start the third. Threes from Kacilyn Krebs and Kensie Ryman ignited the run, and a steal and conversion from Maddie Ryman had Warsaw suddenly within seven at 44-37.
Eight fourth-quarter points from Kendall Wayne got Warsaw as close as 53-50, but Sally Mortensen would convert an and-one on the other end to push the Falcons back up six and effectively seal the championship.
Baird, the tournament MVP, finished with 25 points and Ariana Booker scored all 12 of her points in the first half. Meridian (7-9) made the final by beating Chesterton 53-35.
Maddie Ryman came through with another 20 points and Wayne ended with 10 points. Brielle Harrison and Abby Sanner each had eight points.
“We didn’t come out with that intensity and focus that we needed to be successful,” Krebs said. “We can’t put ourselves in that type of position against good ball clubs. I loved the fact that we battled back and showed the fight in the group.
“I told them just because we showed the ability to come back from a deficit doesn’t mean that we have to keep putting ourselves in that position to do it. The fire alarm on the wall is there to use in case you need it, but I’m not going to set the school on fire just so I can pull the fire alarm. We just have to get off to better starts.”
Patton, Ryman and Booker were all named to the All-Tournament team along with Baird’s MVP award. Marney Sisson of Chesterton and Reece Colclesser of Huntington North were also tabbed to the All-Tournament team.
The loss to Meridian ends Warsaw’s eight-game winning streak. The Lady Tigers (11-5) will play five of its final six games in the Northern Lakes Conference, beginning with a Jan. 5 date at defending champion Northridge.