By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The bus ride home from last Saturday’s night game at Angola was a long one for Wawasee High School boys basketball coach Phil Mishler.
And it wasn’t just because the Warriors dropped a 59-56 decision to the hometown Hornets. It had more to do with Wawasee senior Jacob Thompson taking a fall on his right shoulder about four minutes into the contest and missing the rest of the game.
This is the same player who has missed about one-half of each of the past two seasons with shoulder injuries that required season-ending surgeries.
Thompson burst on the scene as a freshman, scoring 393 points for a 17-8 Wawasee team that advanced to a Class 3A regional championship game at Blackford before bowing out of the state tournament. The youngster was at his best in the postseason tossing in 115 points in five games. His best two playoff games were 36 points in an 86-73 win over West Noble in the sectional championship at Columbia City and 33 in an 88-85 loss to Fort Wayne Elmhurst in the regional finale.
“Jake is having an MRI on Dec. 5 and we will know more after that,” the coach said. “The only thing I know is that he is out indefinitely.
“He got tangled up with a player around half court. Jake was making the transition back on defense and fell on his shoulder.”
Thompson netted 14 points in a season-opening 80-61 win over the Fairfield Falcons. He had five points in the Angola contest before the injury.
“We saw this season as a great opportunity for Jake to carry the load so we could bring some of our younger players along,” Mishler said. “Now they may have to be ready sooner than expected.”
Wawasee’s offense is a variation of the one used by Grinnell College that allowed Jack Yoder recently to set an all-time NCAA scoring record when he poured in an incredible 138 points in a 179-104 win over Faith Baptist Bible.
The Warriors attempted an impressive 50 3-pointers in the Fairfield game. A figure Mishler was pleased with as he shared his goal was 45 tries from beyond the arc per game.
One part of the system is bringing in fresh players every minute.
“From that standpoint there is a learning curve to the system,” Mishler said. “It takes kids awhile to get adjusted to it. The trade off is when you are coming into the game your legs are fresher.”
Thompson wasn’t the only Warrior injured in the contest as fellow senior Ryndan Aaron missed part of the contest as well.
“Hopefully he will be back for the weekend,” Mishler said.
The Warriors (1-1) have a doubleheader weekend with a trip to Manchester (0-2) on Friday and a home game against West Noble (2-0) on Saturday.
“On of the other things about losing Jake is his vocal leadership on the floor,” Mishler said. “Someone or some combination of players are going to have to step in and fill that role.”
Two area teams — the Concord Minutemen and the NorthWood Panthers — will be opening their seasons on Friday. Concord is at John Glenn (0-3) and NorthWood entertains Triton (1-1). Triton is led by 6-6 senior Clay Yeo who has poured in a noteworthy 1,335 points in his first three varsity seasons for the Trojans.
The Fairfield Falcons (0-1) host Prairie Heights (1-0) on Friday. Six-five senior Brad Lantz netted 15 points and 6-2 junior Marcus Rodes 14 to lead the Falcons in their opener.
The Northridge Raiders (0-2) host the South Bend Riley Wildcats (2-0) on Friday. Leading scorers for the Raiders are 6-6 junior Nate Ritchie 38 points, 6-1 junior Sam Ahonen 27, 6-1 senior Joey Ganyard and 5-9 sophomore Pete Smith both 20.
Westview begins action in the NECC as the Warriors travel to Churubusco (0-1) on Friday. Top scorers for the Warriors are 6-4 senior Kyle Miller 38 points, 5-10 5-10 junior Jordyn Bontrager 27 and 6-3 senior Nic Raber 26.
The Bethany Christian Bruins (0-2) travel to Prairie Heights on Saturday. Leading scorers for the Bruins are 6-2 senior Caleb Morris 22 points, 6-3 junior Abe Thorne and 6-0 sophomore Sol Brennneman both 11.