Whiteland boys basketball coach Matt Wadsworth loved his team’s composure Friday night.
“I thought our guys were composed and prepared to shoot,” Wadsworth said.
The Warriors were 19 of 20 from the free-throw line, including all 12 in the fourth quarter, to top visiting Mooresville 67-61. It was a sweep as the Warriors’ girls team slipped past Mooresville 61-57 in overtime.
Wadsworth said the Whiteland and Mooresville boys teams are equal in athletic ability and basketball skills.
“It came down to who wanted it more,” Wadsworth said.
The boys game was tied 11-11 after the first quarter and 26-26 at halftime. After a Moorsville turnover with two seconds left in the third quarter, junior Aaron Gross sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut Whiteland’s deficit to 40-38.
“When we were down seven (in the third quarter) we switched to a zone and looked to trap (KC) Earls, get the ball out of his hands and try to force some other guys to shoot for them,” Wadsworth said. “That seemed to create some opportunities on the offensive end for us.”
Senior Terr’e Moss sank a 3-pointer to give the Warriors a 57-53 lead with 1:30 to go.
“The key there was we were able to stay up four and they were not able to get that one possession,” Wadsworth said. “That’s why we shoot free throws every day in practice.”
Moss and Michael Valle’ each had 20 points to lead the Warriors (11-3, 3-1). Moss was 7 of 8 from the free-throw line, and Valle’ hit all eight free throws.
Freshman Brennan Neal added 10 points off the bench. Neal is helping pick up the slack since the Warriors have had to play without Tom Purdie, who was suspended before the Johnson County tournament.
Earls led Mooresville (10-5, 2-2 Mid-State) with 27 points and Luke Kenney added 15 points.
Sophomore center Mackenzie Blazek led the Warriors girls with 26 points and 18 rebounds.
“Mackenzie does what Mackenzie does. She got in there and battled and banged,” said Warriors girls coach Kyle Shipp, whose team finished the regular season with a 13-9 record and 3-3 in the Mid-State.
“Our guards found her and she put together another monster performance against a really good basketball team,” Shipp said.
Kate White and Sydney Mize, the Warriors’ only two seniors, finished strong in their final outing on their home floor.
“Down the stretch our seniors got the job defensively and offensively,” Shipp said. “Those girls deserve everything that came their way. They are two of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached
White was huge in overtime, hitting 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. White was 9 of 10 from the line, hitting two free throws in the fourth quarter, to do all her scoring from the line.
“We practice free throws every single day and we use that foul (to our advantage),” White said.
Mize scored all seven of her points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a big 3-pointer in regulation that gave the Warriors a 40-35 lead.
Mooresville’s Taylor Baxter nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, tied at 44-44.
“We talked about fouling and not fouling,” Shipp said. “We went with just playing defense. To her credit, she put one it to send it into overtime. But to our credit we kept playing and came out and got a quick bucket.
“It was a great win before the tournament.”
Blazek opened the overtime by scoring a basket to to put the Warriros ahead for good at 46-44. Junior Sidney Crowe then hit two free to make it 48-44.
“That put them in chase-up mode where they had to foul,” Shipp said.
White said beating the perennially strong Pioneers was one of the season’s goals.
“We just had to battle and we pulled them off,” she said.
Crowe hit all six free throws in the overtime, finishing with 12 points for the Warriors
“Our team has been resilient all year long,” Shipp said. “We don’t have any quit in us. We fight, fight and fight. We find ways to find baskets with feeding Mackenzie and feeding off of that.”
White said it should provide motivation going into the sectional
“It’s a great last conference going into the sectional,” White said.
Morgan Matt led the Pioneers’ (17-6, 3-3) balanced attack with 13 points.