Whiteland boys basketball wins big at Plainfield


Players and coaches on the Whiteland boys basketball bench leapt to their feet repeatedly during the second quarter Friday, clapping and urging on their teammates.

This is a common occurrence during games, but the Warriors weren’t cheering made baskets or turnovers. Instead, the cheering would begin when Whiteland’s 2-3 zone defense cut off a Plainfield player on an attempted drive to the basket. It happened early and often Friday.

It was a prime catalyst in a 23-6 Warrior run that spanned the late first quarter and early second period and paved the way for a convincing 74-52 Whiteland victory in the Mid-State Conference opener for both teams.

“This was one of the most complete games we’ve put together,” Whiteland senior forward Max Sullivan said. “Just packing the paint, you could tell they wanted to score around the basket, and limiting those touches around the basket helped a ton.”

Plainfield (2-1) shot 57.5% from the floor (23 of 40), but that wasn’t enough to offset Whiteland’s 29-of-45 shooting effort (64.4%). The Warriors (3-0) also shot 50% from 3-point range (7 of 14), and they committed just eight turnovers while forcing the Quakers into 14 miscues.

“We’ve got a lot of different weapons, and we need to play unselfish basketball … take good shots, limit turnovers,” Whiteland coach Nate Cangany said. “We were getting stops, and we were able to turn those into scores with great offensive possessions.”

The Warriors took control from the outset. After a 4-4 tie, Whiteland scored 10 straight points and led 14-6 at the end of the first quarter. The Warriors then outscored Plainfield 13-4 to start the second period and built a 27-10 lead. The Quakers never drew closer than nine points (34-25 early in the third quarter) after that.

Whiteland erased any doubt about the game’s outcome with an 8-0 run late in the third quarter, which extended its lead to 54-33 with 1:14 left in the period.

“Our energy was great on defense,” Cangany said. “Our guys know their jobs, whether they’re in man, zone or whatever we’re doing, and they did a great job of executing that.”

Balanced scoring made the Warriors tough to defend. Austin Willoughby led the way with 20 points, shooting 8 of 10 from the floor. Wiatt McLaughlin added 15 points off the bench and shot 7 of 9 from the field in the process, while Dylan Gross scored 13 points, all in the second half, and hit 4 of his 5 field-goal tries. Drew Higdon chipped in nine points and Kyson Jones added seven for Whiteland.

Cael Vanderbush led Plainfield with 16 points.

Whiteland downplayed any talk of Friday’s win over the two-time defending Mid-State champs serving notice to the rest of the conference.

“This is what we expect from ourselves,” Sullivan said. “We expect to give teams the best that we’ve got.”

In the girls’ game, the Warriors fell to 2-6 overall and 1-1 in Mid-State play with a 65-29 loss to the Quakers.

Muskaan Ghuman and Emily Reed shared game-high honors for Whiteland with eight points apiece. Addison Emberton and Kylee Marlin each added four points.

Jozee Rhodes led Plainfield (6-2, 3-0) with 16 points.

The Whiteland girls host Bishop Chatard on Wednesday. The boys host Mid-State rival Perry Meridian next Friday.