DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
One big run was all the Whiteland boys basketball team need.
Trailing 25-23 at halftime, the Warriors started the second half with a 12-0 run to take a 35-25 lead. The Warriors held on off a late Plainfield rush to win 49-44 in Mid-State Conference on Friday night. It was a split for the Warriors, whose girls team lost in the first game.
“I’m proud of the energy we played with (Friday night),” Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth said. “I think third quarter run we had was keyed by our defensive pressure with our press. It was really a situation where good defense created good offense for us. That stretch showed what we can be as a team when we play with our hands up and play in a stance. Overall, our players couldn’t have executed a game plan any better.
Tom Purdie, who finished with 10 points, started the spurt with a 3-point play. After Purdie scored to make it 33-25, Whiteland quickly capitalized on a Quakers turnovers and Michael Valle got a layup. Plainfield’s Gavin Bizeau scored midway through the third quarter to make it 35-27.
The Warriors (2-0, 1-0 Mid-State) led 37-29 after three quarters.
Plainfield senior standout Max Kurkowski hit back-to-back 3-pointers to slice the lead to 43-40 to 2:10 left in the game. Valle was fouled and hit the first of two free throws to make it 44-40. Will Higdon was fouled and hit both free throws with 22.1 left to push the lead to 46-40.
With 38 seconds seconds left, Aaron Eblen missed the front end of one-and-one. However, Kurkowski was called for traveling with 28.7 seconds to go.
Plainfield’s Reece Crawford was fouled and sank both foul shots with 17.1 seconds left. Terr’e Moss, who had a team-high 13 points, was fouled and hit one free throw to make it 47-42. Luke Gulley hit a 10-footer to trim the lead to 47-44 with 10 seconds to go.
Moss was fouled with eight seconds left and hit both free throws to push the lead 49-44. Kurkowski missed a 3-point shot at buzzer.
Kurkowski led the Quakers (0-2, 0-1) with 15 points.
The Class 4A No. 9 Quakers girls team topped Whiteland 44-33 in the opener.
“I thought our defensive effort was good enough to win the game,” said Warriors girls coach Kyle Shipp, whose team fell to 3-4 and 0-1 in the Mid-State. “We can’t turn the ball over likes much as we turned the ball and we have to shoot free throws better. We still got to get better in those two areas. My hat’s off to them. They’re a good basketball team and their rating is well deserved.”
The Warriors committed 18 turnovers compared to nine for the Quakers (9-0, 2-0 Mid-State). Whiteland was 6 of 12 from the free throw line.
The Warriors led 17-16 at halftime.
Samantha Olinger hit a 3-pointer to give Plainfield a 24-20 lead in the third quarter.
“The first half we’re keeping it close and a few things happen we might have the lead,” Shipp said. “Then all of sudden the game gets away from us in the third quarter. Then we stormed back in fourth quarter to make it seem a little closer.”
Riley Blackwell was high for Plainfield with 17, scoring 10 in the final quarter. Kyndall Spears added 11 points.
Warriors sophomore center Mackenzie Blazek led Whiteland with 13 points. Junior guard Sydney Crowe added eight points, hitting two 3-pointers in the second quarter.
“We had a tough week; you go to Roncalli and play a ranked team,” Shipp said. “Now we get to go home for the first time in a month. We have to get ourselves right for Triton Central at home on Tuesday night. Now we get back to more of balanced schedule.”