by Beau Wicker
Winamac’s boys basketball team bounced back from a season-opening loss in a big way Tuesday night.
Zach Shidler scored a career-high 32 points to lead the Warriors to a 67-54 win over Rochester.
Shidler, a 5-foot-11 senior, added nine rebounds and seven steals to just miss on a triple-double. He shot 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
“I was just very pleased with how Zach Shidler ran the show,” Winamac coach Kyle Johnson said.
The Warriors (1-1) avenged a 14-point loss to the Zebras in last year’s sectional with a 13-point win. Rochester (0-3) has three starters back from last year but was shell-shocked after a big Warrior run to start the game.
Winamac scored the game’s first 12 points and led 21-3 after one quarter of play. Rochester shot 0 of 5 from the field and committed six turnovers in the frame, while Winamac shot 8 of 14 from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
The Warriors led by as much as 29-7 in the first half. Rochester cut the lead to 37-21 at halftime and opened the second half with a 6-0 run to get within 10 but never would get back to within single digits. Winamac led by as much as 17 at two different points in the fourth quarter.
J.T. Garnett, Jeremy Bentle and Evan Rose scored eight points apiece for Winamac. Parker Fox had seven, and Levi Schultz chipped in four.
Rose grabbed eight boards, and Bentle had three blocks.
Winamac shot 10 of 17 from 3-point range (58.8 percent) and had five different players knock down a triple.
“That’s exciting,” Johnson said.
The Warriors bounced back from a loss at Argos to start the season.
“The mental toughness is the biggest thing for us,” Johnson said. “I saw some of that [Tuesday]. I saw a few mental breaks, and I think that was our big problem against Argos is we had some mental slip-ups. And [Tuesday] we played very physical and we played mentally tough to come away with a W.”
Jonathan O’Dell led the Zebras with 16 points. Luke Cannedy had 10 points and 13 rebounds. Alec Gehrich added 12 points, and Alec Holland chipped in eight.
Winamac hosts Frontier for its Midwest Conference opener on Friday.
“I think there’s a lot of areas we can improve,” Johnson said. “We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and we gave up a lot of points off of turning the ball over. But that’s early in the year. That’s what a coach expects. You don’t expect to do everything right at the beginning.”
But Shidler and the Warriors sure did enough things right Tuesday night.