by Rick Conrad
For the Pharos-Tribune
It may not have been the prettiest game ever played in a high school gym, but the Winamac Warriors will still take it. With the defense turning up the heat on a cold, frigid night, the Warriors finally got into the win column with a 49-33 pasting of Knox Friday night.
The Warriors (1-3) will play Argos at 7 p.m. tonight in the Winter Classic final at West Central.
The Warriors were trying to make a statement early as the Winamac defense contested nearly every pass that the Redskins (0-5) tried to make. In doing so Winamac was able to score in transition to help get things going.
However, as has been the case thus far this season, the Warriors were once again plagued by turnovers and that somewhat stifled the offense again. They ended the game with 19 miscues but thanks to their defensive pressure they forced Knox into committing 30 to help secure the game.
“The defense won this one for us,” Winamac’s Dalton Button said. “They played very well tonight but we can always do better. We forced them into turnovers which gave us a lot of easy opportunities for baskets.”
With the defense setting the tone early the Warriors were able to jump out to an early lead over the visiting Redskins. At the 3:23 mark of the first quarter an Adam Gruenig 3-pointer gave Winamac a 11-5 lead and Knox coach Mark Victor quickly called a timeout. That settled the Knox squad down for the rest of the quarter but his team was unable to find the basket as Winamac took a 13-5 lead after one.
A sloppy second quarter saw fouls starting to mount and turnovers starting to add up for both teams. But Winamac kept the pressure on and took a 23-12 lead into the break.
In the third frame Knox was looking at a 32-19 deficit when a technical foul was called on the Winamac bench. The Redskins’ Jordan Anderson stepped to the line with a chance to cut into Winamac’s lead but missed both free throws and after three Winamac held a 34-19 lead.
Play got a little scrappy in the final quarter as both teams were whistled for numerous fouls and both teams made repeated trips to the free throw line. Once again it was Winamac with the edge as the Warriors hit their freebies down the stretch in going on to the 49-33 win.
“I was excited about the play of our inside people. We have some nice inside players but they need to establish themselves,” Winamac coach Kyle Johnson said. “Hopefully tonight was a step in that direction. Really, we’re just like Knox in that we too are still trying to find our identity.
“We just tried to play more aggressively on both ends of the court and I’m really pleased with the guys.”
Parker Fox led the Warriors with 17 points. Derek Dotlich had 12. Button had six, Gruenig added five and Levi Schultz chipped in four.
Curt Scherer had 11 points and Anderson added 10 to lead Knox. Jeremy Crittendon added six and eight rebounds. Austin Hansen chipped in five points.