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Written By StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Maddie Ryman draws contact inside from Columbia City’s Brayden Lickey, while Rebekah Marshall looks on at right during a game at the Tiger Den Tuesday. (Photos by James Costello)

WARSAW — Tuesday was Warsaw senior Maddie Ryman’s birthday, and the plucky senior guard celebrated with a career-high 23 points.

That production paced a trio of Lady Tigers in double figures, and the home team celebrated a 59-46 win over Columbia City.

“We started the game out shooting really well. We’re spending a lot of time now in practice just getting shots up, and you’re starting to see the results of that. Maddie Ryman, she was 4 for 6 from 3 — we’re starting to see her shooting better,” said Warsaw coach Lenny Krebs.

“We’re spending a lot of time just fine-tuning some of the things we want to do and getting shots up, and that’s something early in the year that’s tough to do when you’re putting everything in. We talked the other day about how much we’ve been shooting, and the girls are like ‘Oh, another shooting drill,’ but we’re starting to see the results of it. That repetition, you can’t make up for that.”

On her 18th birthday, Ryman filled the stat sheet with some pretty grown-up numbers on her home floor at the Tiger Den.

She knocked down all of her four triples before halftime, including three in the opening stanza as Warsaw jumped out to a 22-14 advantage. She used the threat of that shooting and dribble penetration to dish out four assists, grabbed three steals, plucked down three rebounds and generally played her heart out in a high-energy, all-around game.

“Maddie Ryman brings that energy,” explained Krebs. “She plays at such a high level. If there’s a loose basketball she’s going Superman after that thing. That’s why she’s all beat up the way she is, but that just carries over to everybody else. We want to continue to play at that high level with everyone, and I thought for the most part we had a very high level of energy tonight, almost to a fault.”

Brielle Harrison shoots from the baseline over Carly Mabie and Olivia Shearer while Maddie Ryman looks on Tuesday.

Ryman’s wasn’t Warsaw’s only career-high night as junior forward Brielle Harrison put up a career-best 15 points to go with 10 rebounds. It was the fourth time in the last five games the versatile forward has reached double figures, and her efforts late helped Warsaw hold off the tenacious Eagles as she went a perfect 3 for 3 from the floor and 2 for 2 from the line for eight points all in the fourth period. Freshman forward Abby Sanner also reached double figures with 11 points to go with eight caroms in her fourth-straight double-digit outing. The Tigers finished the game at a 19-for-31 (61.3 percent) scoring clip.

“Brielle continues to get better. She had 15 points, 10 rebounds. We’re starting to see Brielle starting to get blossom and get that confidence that she’s been lacking,” said Krebs. “Abby Sanner continues to develop. As soon as we can get her to realize she needs to stop playing tall — you saw her sometimes where she got the ball taken out of her hands where she’s not down and strong with the basketball. That’s something she’s going to continue to grow into.”

While the Tigers continued to improve on the offensive end, their defense left something to be desired by their coach, and it also left the door open for City.

The Eagles twice cut Warsaw’s advantage to one possession in the fourth period, the last time on Hunter Alles’ free throws at the 5:50 stop of the clock. But the Tigers began to find some transition buckets against City’s full court press, and Harrison’s lay-in on a Kaylee Patton inbound pass with 1:16 to play pushed them back out to an 11-point lead as they closed out the game 14-4 for their sixth straight win.

“Offense is coming along. I don’t want to get to the point where we have to put the basketballs away in practice because we can’t play defense consistently. We shouldn’t have to try to outscore people; we should be able to shut them down offensively,” Krebs said.

“We want to be able to get in those close games where we have to pull one out so that we can draw on this experience come tourney time. I don’t want to do it with self-inflicted wounds on the defensive end at times, but to be able to play a tight game and know that we can pull it out is somethings that we can draw on in the future.”

City got 18 points from sharpshooter Olivia Shearer, who did the bulk of her scoring from beyond the arc with 4 of 9 3-pointers.Carly Mabie scored 15 alongside three steals on the defensive end in the loss, the second straight for the Eagles (5-6).

Warsaw (9-4) won its sixth straight and seventh in the past eight contests in a potential trap game sandwiched between the Tigers’ Northern Lakes Conference-opening win over Plymouth and Saturday’s NLC contest with Wawasee and Krebs’ protege Matt Carpenter, a former assistant under Krebs at Goshen.

“I’m not going to let him beat me. If he does, we’re going to have to have a discussion about how well I taught him,” joked Krebs. “He’s a good guy, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against him.”

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