Warriors Dig Deep To Trump Vikings

Wawasee's Kylee Rostochak dives through Tippecanoe Valley defenders Cara Hoffman (20) and Connor Fraser. (Photos by Mike Deak)

Wawasee’s Kylee Rostochak dives through Tippecanoe Valley defenders Cara Hoffman (20) and Connor Fraser. (Photos by Mike Deak)

SYRACUSE — For a good portion of the Wawasee girls basketball season, the offensive end has been a two-option deal. Tuesday night against Tippecanoe Valley, a third option opened up.

Guard Erin Wiktorowski had a career night, scoring 18 points, 12 of which came after the third quarter of a 64-57 Wawasee in overtime against the Vikings.

Wiktorowski took what was given to her, which were open looks as Valley scrambled to double team KiLee Knafel and account for Kylee Rostochak. While the two namesakes still managed to score 19 points apiece, it was the open looks given to Wiktorowski on the perimeter that allowed the freshman drill five three-pointers.

“The girls are going to have shots,” Wawasee head coach Kem Zolman said. “These guys have been playing that defense all year. They played that against Warsaw (Nov. 16) and I thought we did a better job against it than (Warsaw) did. We were patient a little bit more. Time and time again you saw what was open. It just shows they didn’t have a lot of respect for the others and I think we responded.”

Valley had managed to smother Knafel for three quarters, holding the senior guard to just five points through 24 minutes. But with Wawasee holding just a 47-45 lead, Knafel created a steal and converted on the other end, then matched the feat moments later to give Wawasee a 52-48 advantage.

A Courtney Newsome three from the left wing with :13.5 seconds left cut the lead to one, and after Wawasee committed a five-second inbounds violation, Kelsey Ball hit a jumper to give Valley a one-point edge.

On the next inbounds play, Knafel cut upcourt and was fouled, but hit just one of two free throws to tie the game. A Cara Hoffman jumper at the horn rimmed out, sending the game to overtime.

“We got a good look at the basket,” stated Tippecanoe Valley head coach Chris Kindig. “We rushed it down the floor. We were just looking for a quality shot. It really didn’t matter who took that. In and out, that’s the ballgame right there.”

Wawasee scored the first nine points of the extra session, highlighted by back-to-back threes from Knafel and Wiktorowski. An offensive rebound and putback by Knafel put Wawasee up 62-53, which officially became the straw that broke Valley’s back.

“That’s a sign of a player turning more mature,” Zolman said of Knafel. “She can be patient. But you know when it’s time, she has that ability to raise her level. We’re starting to see that now a little bit.”

Hoffman, who started ice cold but scored seven of her team-high 17 points during a 9-0 Valley run in the third quarter, helped her side take a 34-27 lead, which was the largest Valley had all night. Wawasee, however, would score the next seven points to tie the game and neither team would lead by more than five the remainder of regulation.

Ball finished the night with 15 points and seven rebounds and Newsome added eight points and seven boards. Knafel added eight rebounds, four assists and four steals to her statline.

“I think we were a little let down by the missed chance to win it at the end,” Kindig said. “You had a chance to win it there at the end, and you don’t get it done. But that’s high school basketball, you have to pick yourself up and go.”

The JV matchup also went into overtime, but Valley were able to hold Wawasee scoreless in the fifth quarter to take a 34-28 win. Valley’s Brynda Krueger hit a pair of free throws to send the game into overtime, and the Vikings outscored the Warriors 6-0 in the extra session. Robyn Dunnuck led Valley with eight points and three steals while Allissa Flores and Natalie Jones also had eight points each for Wawasee.

Both teams will return to action this Saturday, with Valley (5-12) entertaining Manchester and Wawasee (8-9) hosts Concord.

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