Snapping a four-game losing streak and staying in the chase for the Mid-State Conference title were important objectives. But Matt Wadsworth was impressed by something else.
The Whiteland boys basketball coach liked what happened on defense.
The visiting Warriors upended Mooresville 47-37 on Friday night, improving to 3-1 in the conference.
“As a coach, you just appreciate it when your team works hard in practice, and they’re rewarded with results,” Wadsworth said. “A lot of things we’ve asked them to do in practice showed up tonight, and they were rewarded with a win.”
The Warriors (6-9) got a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds from senior Dejan Davis. Senior Kyle Alford added 15 points.
But their defense also showed up in a big way.
Whiteland kept the Pioneers to 12-of-46 (26 percent) shooting in part by limiting 6-foot-6 junior Jacob Johnson, who averages 22 points per game, to just seven points on 3-of-16 shooting.
“The Johnson kid is the best player we’ve faced all year to this point in terms of scoring,” Wadsworth said. “And really, that was a team effort. I don’t think one individual can do that job.
“It was a team effort tonight on the defensive end.”
Mooresville closed the first half with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and opened the second half with another 3-pointer to take a 23-18 lead.
But Alford drilled a couple of 3-pointers and hit two free throws to help the Warriors to a 33-27 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“Eventually, we found the gaps in the zone to get a couple of open threes and some layups that put us in a position to take the lead,” Wadsworth said.
The Warriors stretched their lead to eight before Mooresville started pounding the ball inside, scoring on three of its next four possessions to cut the deficit to three.
“We kind of debated whether or not we needed to call a timeout,” Wadsworth said. “And we got fortunate that (the Pioneers) called a timeout, and we were able to tighten up our zone, tighten up those gaps that they were scoring on.”
Whiteland closed the game with a 10-3 run, hitting 6 of 7 free throws during that stretch.
Whiteland plays host to Columbus North tonight at 7:30 p.m.