TIGERS SURVIVE OT THRILLER WITH GOSHEN
Ink Free News / Sports on Thursday, March 5, 2020
ELKHART — Warsaw basketball has been on an emotional roller coaster this week.
First came the announcement on Monday that this would be head coach Doug Ogle’s last season, after 18 years with the Tigers. Then came Wednesday’s thriller with Goshen — a back-and-forth overtime affair that ended in a thrilling, 57-56 win following a wild finish in the two teams’ sectional-opener in Elkhart.
That nightcap somehow managed to outdo an earlier instant classic in which Penn survived Elkhart Central, 52-51, setting up an appointment between the Kingsmen and the Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s been an emotional week. I wish I had $100 for every time I’ve cried this week. I’d be sitting good financially,” said Ogle with a chuckle. “We’re very happy that we won this game, and now we look forward to playing Penn on Friday.”
Heading into overtime knotted at 53-all, it was the RedHawks who struck first on phenomenal sophomore guard Drew Hogan’s pull-up from NBA range from the wing at the 1:55 mark of the extra period. Those were to be Goshen’s only points in overtime, however, and, after Keagan Larsh iced a pair of free throws drawing Deecon Hill’s fifth foul of the night with 1:25 to play, each team missed a pair of free throws to leave the Tigers trailing by one with under 30 seconds to play. Blake Marsh had a shot blocked along the baseline, but Wyatt Amiss came up big with a putback to put Warsaw out front with only seven seconds on the clock.
With the RedHawks trying to get the ball in Hogan’s hands, Brock Poe grabbed a steal but then turned it right back over to Blak Weiss, who rushed a wide open shot from off the elbow, and Poe cleared the defensive rebound, rolling the ball back to the Tigers’ end of the floor as time expired, setting off a celebration at North Side Gym.
“They were going to throw it back to Hogan. We stole that pass, then I don’t know what Poe was thinking; he threw it right to the Goshen guy. He missed the shot, and the Lord kind of smiled on us in that sequence where the steal was good, but to throw it right to them and Weiss has a wide open shot,” recalled Ogle. “It was a crazy ending.”
The end of regulation was pretty crazy, too, with three lead changes and three ties between the opponents in the fourth quarter alone.
Poe’s pull-up from outside the lane gave Warsaw a tenuous, 53-52 advantage with 1:05 to play, but he was called for reaching on Hogan with just 10.5 seconds remaining. Hogan cooly converted the first one, but a timeout from Ogle gave him a little extra time to think his next shot over, and he missed the second freebie to leave it knotted up at 53-53. A quick Warsaw turnover gave the RedHawks another shot, but Jarah Byler missed his jumper and Poe was there to clear the rebound, throwing up a last-second full court desperation heave as the game went into overtime.
“It’s dual. We talked about what we were going to do and also (Hogan) gets a little bit more time to think about it,” explained Ogle of the strategic timeout.
“He is probably heartbroken — and I know they missed some free throws at the end — but Hogan had 30 points on 11 shots. That’s amazing.”
If Hogan was the best player on the floor Wednesday — the sophomore knocked down 5-of-6 threes on his way to his game-high tally — the combination of Poe and Larsh was awfully good, too.
Larsh scored a career-high 11 points earned mostly at a 7-of-8 clip from the line, including four crucial free throws in the fourth quarter and two more in overtime. He pulled down six offensive rebounds for his team, which benefitted from 16 second chance points against Goshen. Poe put up a team-high 18 points with nine rebounds, and Warsaw enjoyed a 36-29 rebounding advantage over the Hawks. They also turned the ball over just four total times, although Goshen wasn’t much worse with only seven turnovers on the night. Luke Adamiec finished with eight points and eight rebounds, Jaylen Coon scored seven, and Amiss scored six with three rebounds and four assists.
Wednesday’s win was far closer affair than Warsaw’s regular-season win over Goshen back on Jan. 17. It was also the team’s first win in its last four outings as the Tigers closed the regular season with a 1-6 stretch. They seemed to get some of their swagger back at the right time.
“I’m just really happy for our players. We’ve had a tough couple weeks here — really longer than that — and we said this is a reset. We just need to get this first game, get our mojo back and confidence, so that’s kind of what we did tonight,” explained Ogle.
“We beat a good team tonight.”