DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
For Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth, there were two things that doomed his boys basketball team’s chances Friday night.
“When you go on the road in conference games, you have to make free throws,” Wadsworth said. “Second-chance points and missed free throws cost us the game.”
The result was Mooresville pulled away for a 75-60 victory against Whiteland. It was the Warriors’ (7-8, 3-1) first loss in the Mid-State. Whiteland was 14 of 24 from the foul line.
Mooresville (11-2, 3-1) held a 35-28 lead at halftime. The Warriors scored the first six points of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 35-34, and then it was all Mooresville the rest of the quarter.
The Pioneers outscored the Warriors 19-2 to increase their lead to 54-36 after three quarters.
“I was proud of our effort coming out of halftime,” Wadsworth said. “I thought we came out with energy to start the half. In that stretch, we created turnovers, we ran the floor and got layups.”
The Warriors were 20 of 46 from the field.
“Against their 1-3-1 defense, we really wanted to get the ball in the middle and cut the basket and fill the wings,” Wadsworth said. “We weren’t good enough at that (Friday night).
“I think there are lessons to take from this game to make us better.”
Junior forward Aaron Eblen led the Warriors with 15 points. Junior guard/forward Tom Purdie added 14 points, hitting four 3-pointers.
Junior guard K.C. Earls was high for the Pioneers with 23 points. Senior forward Lane Weaver added 17 points on 6 of 16 shooting for Mooresville.
Weaver took advantage of second-chance points by getting several offensive rebounds.
“The thing we’ve talked about in practice is we have to force guys to miss shots,” Wadsworth said. “In those situations our defensive intensity has to come up. We’ve got to get into people and force them to miss.
“Late in the fourth quarter, when we started to pressure we were able to get on a run.”
Purdie cut the lead to 70-60 with on a 3-pointer by Purdie with one minutes. But Mooresville shut the door by scoring the final five points. The Pioneers were 17 of 27 from the foul line.
Wadsworth said a positive is the two teams are still tied in the Mid-State race.
Whiteland hosts Columbus North tonight.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose, but we get an opportunity to play again (today),” Wadsworth said. “We have another chance to get better. We’re right in the thick of the conference race.”