Warriors use early surge, take control against Artesians

For the Daily Journal

MARTINSVILLE — Whiteland boys basketball coach Matt Wadsworth enjoyed the way his team took control from the start Friday night.

“We talked this week about playing with a lot of heart,” Wadsworth said. “When you get to this point of the season, a lot of teams are playing their best and it’s heart that is going to separate people. I thought we came out and played hard from the beginning.”

The Warriors led at every stop in a 57-47 victory over host Martinsville in Mid-State Conference action.

“Elijah Weatherspoon’s 10 points in the first half was huge,” Wadsworth said. “He really got it with a lot of hustle, running down some loose balls and rebounding.”

Junior guard Weatherspoon, who did all his scoring in the first half, said his teammates put him in position to do well.

“I hit the open shots when they were needed,” said Weatherspoon, who hit two 3-pointers. “I think our defense was good but we can always improve. Offensively, if we play like that the rest of the year we’re going to finish off the season right.”

The Warriors led 18-10 after the first quarter and 32-18 at halftime.

“We came out on fire,” sophomore guard Brennan Neal said. “I was probably playing my best defense I played all year.”

Martinsville (5-13, 1-5) trimmed the lead to 43-35 after three quarters and closed the deficit to 46-40 with just under four minutes left in the fourth but could not get any closer.

Senior Michael Valle led the Warriors (13-6, 3-3 Mid-State) with 20 points.

“Throughout the game, Mike was consistent,” Wadsworth said. “Mike was willing to go inside and crash the boards. Towards the end of the game, he did a nice job handling the ball away from the basket.”

Valle had the opportunity for a few more points but was 2 of 6 from the free throw line. Whiteland was 14 of 22 from the line overall.

Neal chipped in with 14 points.

“Offensively, Brennan is gaining some confidence,” Wadsworth said. “I like the way he played.”

Neal said he seemed to find a rhythm.

“My teammates were kicking it out to me and I was hitting it,” Neal said. “Shooting-wise, I’ve been off and on. I just need to find my shot.”

The Warriors will play their final home game tonight against New Palestine. It’s Senior Night for Valle, Aaron Gross, Jacob Leistner and Spencer Hubler.

“Those four seniors have been really special to our program and just want to go out and play hard and get another win,” Wadsworth said.

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Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.