AKRON – One of the potential bigger upsets of the first half of the girls basketball season was brewing Wednesday night. The coffee pot, however, whistled just for a half as Tippecanoe Valley put a lid on Triton’s upset bid with a mammoth third quarter in a 53-35 final.
A 22-18 halftime score in favor of Valley likely could have been closer than that if a putback at the buzzer by Nicole Sechrist rolled in instead of harmlessly out of the rim. That four-point bulge still left the crowd pensive with ‘what-if’s’ and a curiosity of the upcoming second half. An 11-0 run by the Lady Vikings right out of the gate in the third quarter put a lot of the questions to bed, and a 21-8 Valley third quarter ended much of the discussion.
Tippecanoe Valley head coach Chris Kindig dialed up his pressure defense, which has been Triton’s Achilles Heel all season, and it showed in the run.
“We tried to put more pressure on them on the inbounds, rather than allowing them to get the ball inbounds,” Kindig said. “We got three or four quick turnovers and got some baskets. What was four points at the half turned into 13-15 in the span of a couple minutes. That was obviously the key to the game.”
A Sophie Bussard steal and finish, plus the harm, had Valley up 38-23. Bussard had a solid all-around night, scoring 12 points to go with four assists, four steals and four rebounds.
Anne Secrest was very efficient, going 7-9 from the floor for 15 points, but also had four assists as Triton sold out to keep her covered while others were left wide open. Part of the cavalry included Meredith Brouyette, who hit four three-pointers for her 12 points, and Addy Miller, who scored seven points. Hannah Dunn also gave Triton matchup problems, finishing with just six points but forced the undersized Trojan defense to continually account for two bigs.
Triton’s ability to hang with the Class 3-A No. 7 Vikings in the first half stemmed from ball reversals. Swinging passes to Hannah Wanemacher, who scored 19 points despite constant marking, and quick hits to Sechrist inside – who scored 12 points – exhibited what Heckaman was excited to see in spurts Wednesday.
The inability to handle the full-court press, Triton’s bugaboo along with developing alternative scoring aside from Wanemacher and Sechrist, was what once again did the Trojans in.
“We’ve gotten stuck with the ball on one side of the floor in too many games this year,” Triton head coach Adam Heckaman said, whose team falls to 2-9 overall. “That gets us impatient and taking bad shots. Tonight we moved the ball around a lot better, got some better looks. We hit some shots we haven’t earlier in the year. Things looked more crisp. We’re sitting there at 22-18 at the half, and should have been 22-20, but we executed a lot better than we have and hopefully can maintain that going forward.”
Valley, on the other hand, moves to 8-2 with the win and will have just two days to prepare for North Miami in a Three Rivers Conference game at Valley Friday night. Triton will visit Caston in a Hoosier North Athletic Conference game Saturday night.
“I’m glad we’re getting them at home,” Kindig said of North Miami. “We’re going to have our hands full. They are young, and when you have a young team like that, we’ll have to put a lot of pressure on them. They’ve got some athletes on that team, and we are going to have to play well to win that basketball game.”
The JV game went to double overtime, Valley coming out with a 34-29 win over Triton. Emma Craig scored a bucket at the end of regulation to force overtime, and after a 2-2 first overtime, Valley pulled away in the second bonus stanza. Jillian Walls had 14 points to lead Valley, and Craig finished with nine points. Abigail Powell had 12 points for Triton, Alyxa Viers totaled seven points.