Warriors hoops search for consistency after .500 start

Goshen’s junior guard Austin Smith, above, is one of three Warriors that averages double-digit points.

Goshen’s junior guard Austin Smith, above, is one of three Warriors that averages double-digit points.
By Chris Chaney
Sun staff

Just six games into the season, the Goshen Warriors have navigated their way to an even 3-3 record, going 3-1 against Southern Buckeye Conference opponents, which would lead you to believe that they are playing their best basketball when it matters most.

While that may be the case, head coach Scott Wake is more concerned with getting that consistent effort night in and night out, regardless of who is suiting up against the Warriors.

“We’ve been kind of up and down,” he said. “We come out some nights ready to play and other nights, we haven’t been ready to play.”

Goshen started the season slowly, dropping their first game of the year on Nov. 30 to Ross 69-46 and then their second the next day to Indian Hill, 48-35.

Following the slow start, Goshen picked up their level of play as they opened their conference season, facing four straight SBC-American division opponents.

On Dec. 7, the Warriors squared off with New Richmond in a tight game throughout. Trailing 15-10 after the first quarter, the Warriors kept the nose to the grindstone to muster out a much-needed three-point victory, 49-46.

In that game, the Warriors were kept afloat by a three-headed monster made up of Ryan Ashcraft, Nick Messer and Austin Smith, all of whom scored in double figures.

“Ryan Ashcraft has done a good job for us and shot the ball well in the first part of the season,” Wake said.

The senior swingman is averaging just under 18 points per game for the Warriors, more than half of which is coming from behind the three-point arc from where he is shooting an impressive 43 percent.

Messer and Smith are the Warriors other two main scoring threats, averaging 11.4 and 10.2 points per game, respectively. Messer inflicts his pain more on the low blocks while Smith is more of a perimeter player.

Senior Kyle Wake is also acting as a key contributor, using his length to average around five points and seven rebounds a night.

However, one of the biggest reasons for the Warriors success of late isn’t someone that would jump out at you by looking at a stat sheet.

“Alex Edwards has done a great job,” Wake said of his senior floor manager. “He’s not a big scorer for us, but he does a lot of little things. He’s the guy that keeps us communicating and talking to each other. He does a lot of things that don’t necessarily show up in the stat line, but they do a lot to help us.”

With that solid core finding their way together, Goshen used the momentum gained from their win over New Richmond to tack on two more victories over conference foes Western Brown (56-52) and Bethel-Tate (63-60).

Unfortunately, Goshen’s inconsistency reared its head in the second half of their Dec. 15 game against Amelia as they were outscored by 19 in the final two quarters to lose 57-39 and fall back to .500 on the year.

“We came out kind of sluggish in the first half and then looked terrible in the second half,” Wake said. “Amelia’s got a good team and they were ready to play in the second half and we weren’t.

“We just haven’t really put things together real well yet. We’ve been battling some nights and the offense hasn’t flown real well yet and defense has got some work to do, but it’s early in the season.”

Still, at 3-1 in the league, the Warriors have won most of the games that they needed to. And with three games left in 2012, Goshen can string together a few victories and solidify themselves as a force in the SBC-American.

“We think we could be towards the top (of the SBC), but the league’s pretty strong so we could just as easily be towards the bottom,” Wake said. “We won some games that were pretty close and we’re 3-1, but we could very easily be the other way around because the league is so tight. We could end up in probably about four or five different spots.”