SOUTH WHITLEY – A hot start and an efficient finish propelled Whitko to a 65-46 boys basketball win Friday night against Three Rivers Conference rival Tippecanoe Valley.
The Wildcats rushed out to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, even when Valley slowly crept back into the rearview mirror.
Valley, trailing by double digits for much of the contest, shot its way back into the game in the third quarter. A quartet of threes from the Vikings had the visitors down just seven, and had a pivotal jumper by Tanner Trippiedi rim out just moments later. But the Wildcats came back and buried two threes on consecutive trips, and what was possibly a two-possession game turned into a 13-point Whitko bulge.
“This is the third game where we’ve done that, getting down early and we can’t score the ball enough to come back from that,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Chad Patrick. “The kids played their hearts out. It seems like the more we get down, the harder they play. If we would just come out with that intensity in the first half, we wouldn’t have to do that.”
A bulk of the Whitko heavy lifting in the first half came from Brett Sickafoose, who scored all 17 of his points in two uniforms. Starting in his No. 2 uni, a bloody hand and some residual on his uniform left him to find No. 40 in the dressing room, but didn’t stop him from the breakout first half. Sickafoose was 6-7 from the floor, missing just one three in three attempts and making all three of his free throws.
As Valley found a way to curtail Sickafoose, River West continued to rise, dropping a season-high 31 points on 11-19 shooting. West drilled both of the threes when Valley crept back into the game, and continued to pour it on. West hit 5-9 threes, was 4-4 from the line and also added 10 rebounds and two steals in the masterful performance.
The third head of Whitko’s monster, Spencer Sroufe, was mired in foul trouble all night and wound up with just four points, but had seven rebounds, three blocks and disrupted a handful of others.
Valley’s early philosophy of shoot it, and shoot it often once again brought the stigma of miss it and chase, as the slow start forced Valley to chase more than it wanted. A 9-21 three-point shooting night was a marked improvement over its recent losses, but just 35 percent from the floor (17-49) and the frigid first quarter left Patrick still searching for answers.
“We have to attack the basket more instead of dribbling around 30 feet from the basket,” Patrick said. “I was proud of the way they played in the second half and how hard they worked. We finally got some movement and made them go man. With not enough timeouts and not a halftime to make adjustments, we tried, but we just stood out there and dribbled again. Tanner (Trippiedi) and Cam (Parker) need to be more aggressive going to the basket.”
Parkur Dalrymple and Alex Morrison both finished with 11 points, Morrison adding eight rebounds in a quality effort inside. Trippiedi and Parker each hit three threes for their nine points.
The JV game went to Valley in a 52-38 final.
Whitko improves to 4-3 overall with a game Monday at East Noble while Valley limps into a matchup at Culver Tuesday with a 1-5 mark.