AKRON – Basketball fans in attendance at Tippecanoe Valley High School Thursday night definitely got their money’s worth.
The host Vikings and Plymouth made sure of that.
The pair of previously unbeaten girls basketball teams went toe-to-toe, back-and-forth for a three-overtime thriller in a marquee matchup.
When the final horn had sounded after 44 minutes of exceptional effort by both teams, the Pilgrims left the gym with a well-earned 56-48 win.
Plymouth, which improves to 7-0, outscored the Vikings 10-2 in the final four-minute overtime session to outlast the hosts. Haley Harrell and Kaydon Fosler, two of the four seniors in the starting lineup for Plymouth, each scored four points in the final overtime.
Sophomore Nicole Horvath led the Pilgrims with a game-high 18 points. Harrell finished with 14 and senior Hunter Stevens had 12.
Sophomore Meredith Brouyette led the way for the Vikings, now 4-1, with 15 points. Star sophomore Anne Secrest, despite sitting out the final 9:36 of the opening half due to foul trouble, was a force inside with 13 points for Valley.
The Vikings lone basket of the final overtime period was a layup by Karis Tucker with just 10 seconds to play. Valley had four key turnovers in the third overtime session and Plymouth hit a clutch 6-8 from the free throw line.
“The little plays tonight were huge for us,” said Plymouth coach Dave Duncan, whose team beat the Vikings 49-33 last season. “Valley is a heck of a team that’s going to win a lot of games this season. To come in here and win is a huge win.
“I think our girls just buckled down at the end and refused to lose. Having four seniors out there with the experience they have absolutely makes a difference. They’ve been through enough battles. This was probably our best defensive effort of the season. It was the first time our interior defense had been tested and I thought they responded well.”
Valley forced the first overtime on an incredible shot by Taylor Trippoiedi. The senior guard’s only basket of the contest was one to remember as she banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key with under five seconds to play to tie the game in regulation at 38-38.
The Vikings edged in front of the Pilgrims 43-40 with 2:12 to play in the first overtime. The Pilgrims rallied though with a 6-2 run to take a 46-45 lead with 19 seconds left on two free throws by Stevens. Brouyette then calmly sank the second of a pair of free throws with 8.9 seconds to play to tie it at 46-46.
The second overtime saw the Vikings opt to hold the ball for better than two minutes. The hosts however had a key turnover with 37 seconds to play and the session ended with neither team scoring and the game still deadlocked at 46-46.
“I told our girls that I was proud of them and that I would not trade them for anyone,” said Valley coach Chris Kindig. “Everyone for us gave maximum effort. Plymouth is going to win a lot of games. They have a lot of talent, are well coached and play great defense.
“We had them on the ropes and yes we are disappointed that we lost. But, we are making progress and getting better. We’re still an awful young team (just two seniors).
“The thing we have to do now is forget this game and move on. We have to get ready to play Wabash Saturday. That game (the conference opener) is much more important than this game was in the big scheme of things for us.”
The game was deadlocked at 9-9 after the first quarter. The Pilgrims, with the 6-0 Secrest on the bench with two fouls, opened the second stanza with a 10-0 run and led 22-19 at halftime. Secrest immediately made her presence known at both ends of the floor in the third period as Valley outscored Plymouth 12-4 to take a 29-26 lead.
Plymouth won the junior varsity contest by a 35-30 final. Leena Tetzloft led the winners with 13 points. Addy Miller tossed in 25 points for Valley.
Valley hosts Wabash Saturday night to open Three Rivers Conference play. Plymouth returns to action by hosting South Bend Washington Dec. 10.