SYRACUSE – In the dress rehearsal, Tippecanoe Valley asserted itself in a telltale second quarter for a 58-46 boys basketball victory Friday night over Wawasee at the Hardwood Teepee. In five days, the two teams will take the court against each other with the season on the line.
In what both head coaches referred to as a walk through of sorts, not wanting to tip either hand ahead of next week’s Wawasee Boys Basketball Sectional, Valley weathered Wawasee’s hot start on senior night and used a crucial stretch in the second quarter to separate the two clubs.
Leading just 18-16, Tippecanoe Valley went on an 8-2 run to open the second quarter. The lead only continued to grow, concluding with a picture-perfect ending to the half for the visiting Vikings. As Wawasee scrambled to flood the interior on defense, the attention paid to Tanner Andrews left Chainey Zolman open in the corner. Zolman drilled a three with five seconds left in the half, pushing the score to 32-20.
The shot was huge, but that attention in the middle was a backbreaker for Wawasee. The Vikings’ work on the inside was crushing, entering the half leading 16-5 in rebounds, with an 8-1 advantage on the offensive glass that translated into a 13-0 margin in second-chance points.
“We struggled that first quarter, they scored 10 points in the first four minutes,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Bill Patrick. “At that rate, we were going to give up 80 points. In the second quarter, we did a much better job. Defense has been what has carried us all year. We just weren’t sharp at all to start, but that second quarter, we played much better defense and made our shots count on the other end.”
Wawasee head coach Steve Wiktorowski added about the second quarter, where Wawasee was outscored 14-4, “For the season, I have been pretty happy with our rebounding, but this is two nights in a row that we haven’t rebounded well. And it really showed in the second quarter when they made that run. From a statistical standpoint, those offensive rebounds and second chance points probably were the difference in the game and we have to fix that before Wednesday.”
The Warriors never challenged the score differential in the second half as Valley settled into the tempo it wanted to set. Working a multitude of ball reversals and inside-outside motion, Valley took the shots it wanted, and subsequently, hit them. The Vikings shot 54 percent (22-41) from the floor and continued to clean up on the glass, outrebounding Wawasee 27-14.
Andrews would settle with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists while shooting 10-15 from the floor. Zolman would add 14 points, five boards and three assists. Not the staggering numbers Andrews, albeit quietly, put together, but Zolman’s were crucial in the game and Wiktorowski knows it.
“They have a lot of weapons, are extremely well coached and ran their offense well,” Wiktorowski said. “When Tanner dictates his game inside, and is able to kick out to open shooters, we have to find a way to keep then from getting a second look. (Andrews) is too good to leave open, but they have other weapons that we didn’t close out on tonight and it hurt us.”
Wawasee (4-16) would be led by the 14 points and three assists from Alex Clark, who didn’t have the strongest shooting night hitting just 5-13 shots. Gage Reinhard added 12 points and three assists. Aaron Voirol was off to a decent night with eight points before leaving in the second half with a dislocated thumb on his shooting hand and is questionable for Wednesday’s sectional game.[*** ERROR: Weaver X-Plus Shortcoder undefined id: 'spo-photo' *** ]
Coach Patrick, who saw his team move to 16-3 with the victory, still isn’t convinced his team’s 12-point victory is a precursor for next week.
“I don’t feel comfortable playing Wawasee in their place at all, especially in a tournament setting,” Patrick stated. “It helped Wawasee played at Plymouth last night, and had to turn around and play us the next night. But I don’t see this being the same type of game next week. Wawasee will give us a better fight.”
The junior varsity game was a classic way to end the season for the two junior clubs. Tippecanoe Valley led 42-40 with just seconds to go before Wawasee’s Tyler Smith was fouled with point-three seconds to go. Smith hit both free throws in what became an eventual 54-50 Wawasee win in double overtime.
Smith led all scorers with 20 points and teammate Parker Hatfield finished with 13 points. Alec Craig paced Tippecanoe Valley with 18 points and Jarod Duzenbery added eight points.
The Wawasee Boys Basketball Sectional will begin Tuesday with Whitko and West Noble facing off, then Wednesday has Tippy and Wawasee followed by Lakeland playing NorthWood. Fairfield will meet Tuesday’s winner in Friday’s first semi-final while Wednesday’s winners play in Friday’s second semi-final. The sectional championship game is slated for Saturday night.