AKRON – “I, well, I guess I am just speechless.”
Tippecanoe Valley senior Nick Kindig was at a total loss for words following the final home game of his high school career Friday night.
“These four years have just gone by so fast. I just hope it doesn’t end too soon,” Kindig would continue.
Kindig helped his team to a 78-48 thrashing of rival Wawasee. The win snaps a five-game losing streak to the Warriors and gives the Vikings a chance to start a streak of its own. The two teams will meet again in an opening round sectional game Tuesday night in Syracuse.
The night started out as an exciting one as the Warriors took an early lead and drained five three-pointers in the first quarter. Leading the charge for Wawasee was Jake Hutchinson. The sophomore was on fire in the opening quarter, sinking three shots from beyond the arc. The stellar quarter from Hutchinson was huge for the Warriors but was the only real high point for Wawasee all night.
Hutchinson would only manage to score one more point the remainder of the night to finish with just 10. The rest of the Warrior offense went cold as well, season scoring leader Alex Clark led all Warriors on the night with only 12 points.
But it was not the lack of offense that held Wawasee back, it was the lack of defense on Kindig. The senior hit two three-pointers in the first half and would end up with 19 points at the break. When Kindig wasn’t busy scoring, Valley’s Ben Shriver was. The junior was a perfect 5-5 from the floor and 2-2 from the charity stripe in the first half. Shriver finished his night with 17 points. The Vikings took a 44-24 lead into the locker room.
While Shriver may have cooled down in the second half, Kindig certainly did not. Kindig continued to put on a show for Valley fans as he would finish the night leading all scorers with 32 points. The senior also showed up on defense pulling down eight boards and getting two steals.
Also cleaning up the glass on defense for Valley was Tanner Andrews, as the junior grabbed 10 rebounds, nine on defense and added two blocks. The Vikings out-rebounded the Warriors 32-22 on the night.
Warrior head coach Phil Mishler said he wants to see his team do better when it comes to offensive rebounding when the two teams meet again next week, “I thought we did a nice job with defensive boards but we need to do a better job on the offensive boards. We only got about 19 percent of the boards on offense, we just weren’t pulling them down,”
The coach would later talk about what else his team needs to do better in order to pull the upset on Tuesday.
“We have to take away the high percentage shot. We need to play a little better man-on-ball defense. They (Valley) just shot the ball too well tonight, they were 68 percent from the field,” said Mishler.
While better shooting from inside the arc for Wawasee could certainly make for a different game on Tuesday, at least one person is already expecting a different game.
Valley head coach Bill Patrick does not expect to see the same Wawasee team when his team gets off the bus in Syracuse.
“I expect a different game Tuesday. I just expect a totally different game. It’s on their court and I expect that they’ll slow it down. They did that against West Noble and Elkhart Central. We expect to see that. They can shoot the three and that keeps them in games and they can comeback at any time. And they should shoot it better on their court than they did here tonight, I expect a close game Tuesday,” stated Patrick.
Patrick and Mishler have met just twice in postseason play. Mishler holds a 2-0 advantage in those meetings taking a victory in the 2005 regional and winning an opening round game in the 2011 sectional, which was also hosted by Wawasee.
The two rivals are set to tip-off at approximately 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night in Syracuse.
The junior varsity game came down to the wire. Valley’s Neil Clampitt nailed a game-winning three-point basket as time expired to lift the Vikings to a 27-26 win.