Whiteland Community High School coach Matt Wadsworth loved his basketball team’s fire Friday night.
Senior point guard Terr’e Moss set the pace for the Warriors’ torrid start as they took command in the Johnson County Boys Basketball Tournament en route to a 76-62 rout against Indian Creek on the Braves’ home floor.
Moss led the Warriors with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.
Whiteland (9-2) will now face Center Grove (6-6) in the championship at 7:30 tonight at Indian Creek.
The Warriors’ most recent county title came in 1955.
“I liked the way he attacked the basket,” Wadsworth said. “It just shows not just one senior, but a group of seniors that are hungry to go out and get a win.”
Senior guard Will Higdon added 16 points for the Warriors. The Warriors were playing without leading scorer Tom Purdie, who was suspended from the team for disciplinary reasons, according to the Whiteland athletic director Ken Sears.
“The key to the game was our defensive intensity,” Wadsworth said. “Indian Creek does a nice job of using ball screens and penetration to get to the basket or create kickouts for 3-point shots. We contained them for most of the night.”
The Warriors sank 25 of 54 shots overall.
“Early in the game we were making every shot we could possibly make,” Wadsworth said. “Offensively, we pushed the ball well. Part of our good start was getting layups. We win because we play together. We play hard and we guard.”
Moss said the team got off to a fast start for a change.
“Normally we wait to the second half and this game we got going early,” Moss said. “I just tried to help my team with Purdie out and help out on the boards. I crashed every time I got the chance.”
The Braves (12-2) took a 5-0 lead, but the Warriors quickly tied it.
With the score tied at 5-all, the Warriors scored 12 unanswered points to take control in the first quarter. Garrett Herald sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the first quarter to make it 20-6.
“That was a big shot that continued to carry the momentum for us,” Wadsworth said.
Whiteland kept the pressure going in the second quarter, expanding the halftime lead to 38-15.
“We got punched in the mouth and never punched back,” Braves coach Derek Perry said. “They manhandled us in the first half. It was very disappointing. The second half we ended up outscoring them, but it was too late.
“We buried ourselves in too big of a hole. It was kind of how like the Martinsville game (a 93-59 loss on Dec. 18). We got outhustled and never matched their toughness.”
Perry said he was pleased with his bench players.
“For a good third quarter and part of the fourth quarter, they kept us from getting embarrassed by playing hard,” Perry said.
Sophomore point guard Jared DeHart led the Braves with 25 points, making 13 of 14 free throws. Junior Bryce Hogue added 10 points.