DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Whiteland was stifling on defense and good enough on offense Wednesday to earn a 70-41 boys basketball win against Scottsburg.
The Warriors shut Scottsburg out in the first quarter en route to a 25-0 lead early in the second and was never challenged. The game was played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse as part of the Hoosier Invitational, a tripleheader of games involving boys teams from around the state.
The Whiteland defense didn’t produce an abundance of turnovers, but it forced Scottsburg (1-7) into less than 20 percent field goal shooting for the first half. The Warriors converted the missed shots into repeated scoring opportunities.
Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth said defense set the tone for the game.
“I was so proud of the way we came out. Our energy and focus were good, and we took them out of their rhythm,” Wadsworth said. “They are a team that likes to press, and we didn’t give them the opportunity to press tonight.
“Instead we were able to create some offense with our defense.”
The Warriors (6-1) got off to a fast start, taking a 17-0 lead in the opening quarter behind the quickness of point guard Terr’e Moss and the inside work of senior Aaron Eblen. The lead was stretched to 25-0 before Scottsburg finally got on the board with 5:39 remaining in the half via a Dustin Yocum three-point field goal.
Whiteland led 35-10 at the half.
The Warriors substituted liberally in the second half, and the game became a bit ragged as Scottsburg made the score more respectable, but the superiority of Whiteland’s inside game continued to stand out.
In the paint, Eblen combined well with 6-7 center Michael Valle and power forward Tom Purdie to lead the Warriors to a commanding 33-14 rebounding advantage on the night. Wadsworth said the team’s inside game is key but stressed the need for balanced scoring between the lane and the perimeter games.
“That’s one of the best qualities of this team, how they play together and how they move the basketball,” he said. “That creates a natural balance of its own.”
Whiteland was especially effective scoring in transition. Valley was the tallest player on the court but looked confident in leading the fast break, especially early in the final quarter when he shook the basket standard with a dunk.
“His length helps on the defensive end. He creates deflections,” Wadsworth said. “Offensively he has the ability to lead the break or get behind people on the break. He’s a tough matchup.”
Valle led Whiteland with 17 points. No other Warrior reached double figures, but 13 Whiteland players managed to score.
Whiteland’s next game is Saturday at Bloomington North.