MISHAWAKA — Cory Waycaster has fit right back in with Elkhart Christian Academy.
Of course, in his heart, he never left.
The senior scored 11 points, dealt a game-high six assists and grabbed five rebounds during a rhythmic, in-the-flow performance as ECA beat host Mishawaka 62-47 in boys high school basketball Monday, Dec. 16 at The Cave.
Waycaster had transferred to Jimtown for the second semester of the 2012-13 school year in a well-documented move for family financial reasons.
After he transferred back to Elkhart Christian for this school year, he was initially ruled ineligible by the IHSAA, but won an appeal once the case went before the Indiana Department of Education.
“This is where I belong,” Waycaster said after the Class 1A Eagles improved to 3-1. “Jimtown was good to me when I transferred. But that just wasn’t my place to be. I spent two and a half years at ECA. I went over (to Jimtown) for one reason, and one reason only, and I found a way to come back. God’s blessed me, and I’m just going to make the most of this year that I can.”
He made the most of Monday with a largely efficient effort.
“Cory did a very nice job playing within himself tonight,” ECA coach Ryan Culp said of his 6-foot-4 forward. “He was taking what they gave him, moving the ball when his shot attempts were taken away. I thought all the guys did a pretty good job of that. We’re too good of an offensive team to force shots, force passes, dribble into crowds. We need to take care of the ball so we can utilize our offensive talents. We did well, but we still have room for improvements.”
Senior Ryan Kupferschmid paced the offense, and did so right out of the gate, on his way to team highs of 20 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Kupferschmid swished a 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession and went on to score 17 points by the midway mark of the second quarter while helping the Eagles take a 34-18 lead. He finished 6-of-11 outside the arc.
Senior Tanner Watson — a second cousin of Mishawaka coach Ryan Watson, as is ECA reserve Drew Overmyer — added 15 points while going 5-of-7 from the field and 3-of-3 at the line.
Kenny Bearss chipped in with nine points and four assists. The senior suffered a shot to his problematic hip at the end of the third quarter, but returned during the fourth.
The Eagles earned their first-ever win over the Cavemen. The schools had met just one other time, in 2000-01 when ECA was Elkhart Baptist. Mishawaka won that one 71-37.
This time around, the Eagles shot 68 percent from the filed in the first half on their way to a 38-27 lead at the break. They finished at 61 percent, including 9-of-18 marksmanship outside the arc.
The Cavemen (2-3), meanwhile, were limited to just 35 percent from the field, including 7-of-24 on treys.
“Defensively, I thought we played well,” said Culp, whose club stayed in a 2-3 zone all evening. “We don’t play a lot of 2-3, but we feel like we could be pretty good at it, and I thought it was best with Mishawaka, because they’re a stronger interior team than on the perimeter. We felt like their two 6-5 guys (Jacob Schmatz and Peyton Staples), both with some physical strength, could be a tough match for us. We let a couple of their guys shoot outside and hoped for the best.”
“They played pretty good defense without fouling,” Ryan Watson said of ECA after his own team went 6-of-6 at the line to the Eagles’ 13-of-22. “They’re a very smart basketball team, don’t make very many mistakes, and when somebody gets hot, they feed him. They all play their roles well. They’ve just got a really nice team. We lost them a few times defensively, but when you shoot like they did, you also just have to tip your hat.”
ECA did go temporarily cold during the first four minutes of the third quarter as the Cavemen fought to close at 38-32, but Waycaster hit a pair of free throws to start a 7-0 run and Mishawaka got no closer than eight the rest of the night.
Don Mitchell led the hosts with 14 points and five assists. Fellow senior Cody Shively had nine points and two steals, while Staples, a sophomore, finished with eight points and a game-high eight rebounds.
ELKHART CHRISTIAN 62, MISHAWAKA 47
Elkhart Christian — Ryan Kupferschmid 7-12 0-0 20, Cory Waycaster 2-4 7-10 11, Jude Allen 2-4 0-2 4, Tanner Watson 5-7 3-3 15, Kenny Bearss 3-5 3-6 9, Jon Anderson 0-0 0-1 0, Steve Weaver 0-0 0-0 0, Drew Overmyer 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 20-33 (.606) 13-22 (.591) 62.
Mishawaka — Jacob Schmatz 1-4 2-2 4, Petyon Staples 4-7 0-0 8, Caleb Gabler 2-6 0-0 6, Don Mitchell 4-13 4-4 14, Cody Shively 4-8 0-0 9, Cody Quier 0-3 0-0 0, Jacob Garner 1-3 0-0 3, Trey Stoops 0-0 0-0 0, Zack Denlinger 1-3 0-0 3, Jonah Knip 0-0 0-0 0, Charles Cunningham 0-0 0-0 0, Jordon Arch 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 17-48 (.354) 6-6 (1.000) 47.
Scoring By Quarters
Elkhart Christian 18 20 10 14 — 62
Mishawaka 16 11 11 9 — 47
3-point goals: Elkhart Christian (9-18) — Kupferschmid 6-11, Watson 2-4, Overmyer 1-1; Mishawaka (7-24) — Gabler 2-4, Mitchell 2-7, Shively 1-3, Garner 1-3, Denlinger 1-3.
Rebounds: Elkhart Christian (28) — Kupferschmid 6, Waycaster 5, Watson 5; Mishawaka (22) — Staples 8, Schmatz 4, Mitchell 4.
Assists: Elkhart Christian (14) — Waycaster 6, Bearss 4; Mishawaka (13) — Mitchell 5, Shively 3.
Steals: Elkhart Christian (4) — Kupferschmid 2; Mishawaka (3) — Shively 2.
Turnovers: Elkhart Christian 8, Mishawaka 5.
Fouls: Elkhart Christian 8, Mishawaka 18. Fouled out — none.
Records: Elkhart Christian 3-1, Mishawaka 2-3.
Next: SB Riley at Mishawaka Friday, Dec. 20; Elkhart Christian vs. SB Trinity in Bethany Christian Holiday Tourney semifinal Saturday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m.; consolation 4 p.m.; championship 7:30 p.m.
JV: Mishawaka 36, Elkhart Christian 32. Top scorers: Mishawaka — Jordon Arch 11, Adam Heatherly 5, Darian Phillips 5; Elkhart Christian — Austin Sringer 8, Kodey Maxwell 7, Connor Matthes 6, Chase Biddle 6. JV records: Mishawaka 2-3, Elkhart Christian 1-3.