WARSAW – Ask any parent and they will tell you their kids grew up in the blink of an eye.
Chris Kindig seconded that notion Friday night.
Putting out a lineup that had two JV players also starting the varsity game, Kindig saw his Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team come of age a bit in a 41-33 win at rival Warsaw.
“I thought we were a little nervous in the JV game, some of those players that we rely on at the varsity level they were a little nervous,” Kindig said. “I think maybe it was to our advantage tonight because maybe they got those nerves out by the time the game started, they were ready to play this varsity game.
“I thought they grew up quite a bit tonight. We’re making those steps.”
Both sophomore Sidney Wagner and junior Emma Craig didn’t have much time to rest after the JV game, switched back into their warmups, and headed back out for the varsity game. What was more important for Valley was both Wagner and Craig played big parts in only the seventh win for Valley in the series that dates back to 1976.
Wagner had just two points, but had three assists and three steals, and one of those points came on a free throw in the final minute to put Valley up seven. Craig looked like a totally different player from the JV to the varsity contest, driving with authority and moving quicker on the defensive perimeter. Craig would end up with eight points, six rebounds and a steal in 26 minutes of action that included a nice layup in traffic during a key 5-0 run by the Vikings after Warsaw freshman Kacilyn Krebs had just drilled a three to make it a 30-27 game in the fourth quarter.
“Most nights I want to come out and press a little bit,” added Kindig, who only had 12 players dressed and three assigned as ‘varsity only’. “I like to do that, it seems to get the girls going. Tonight, we felt like we needed to keep it a little closer in terms of tempo. I think the tempo was to our liking through the whole game. Kudos to the girls, they executed our game plan. Just a great win for these girls. We grew up a lot tonight.”
Valley senior Sophie Bussard shot just 4-19 from the floor, but was 8-10 from the free line to notch 16 points along with 10 rebounds and four assists. Junior Makenzie Woodcox also played a pivotal role with 10 points and seven rebounds, her size on the inside causing Warsaw all kinds of problems as Valley (2-1) continued to rotate to find mismatches in the paint.
Warsaw, which played a near flawless game Wednesday at Manchester, won its first game of the year by committing just four turnovers. That changed Friday, as Warsaw coughed up the ball 16 times and shot just 28 percent (12/43) from the floor for the evening. Part of that was Valley’s defense, which recorded seven steals, but per head coach Lenny Krebs, other instances was his own team’s youthful inexperience.
“We spent too much time moving east to west on the perimeter, and doing that against good defensive teams won’t get you anywhere,” Krebs said of his team’s offensive struggles. “When you face pressing defenses, you have to puncture holes in them and attack. We didn’t do that nearly enough, and actually, hardly at all.”
Kaylee Patton had a breakout night, scoring 18 points against the Vikings after netting just four points combined in the first two games Warsaw played. Patton had a pair of buckets that pulled Warsaw (1-2) within two in the third quarter.
Patton’s point total, however, was triple the next highest for Warsaw – Brielle Harrison’s six – and was a far cry from Maddie Ryman’s three, which was 18 less than her career-high 22 at Norwell last week and well short of her season average of 18 points per night coming in. Krebs noted the disparage in scoring, but hopes the length of the season helps pull up some of the scoring numbers up all around.
“At the high school level, you have to have multiple scoring options and we were pretty one dimensional,” Krebs said. “Tonight it was obviously another one true scoring threat. Kaylee had 18, but if we put this together in the long run if we combine Maddie with Kaylee and keep finding more scorers as the season goes on, we’re going to be alright. It’s a long season and this is a learning process with these young kids as we go through it. We’re going to have some growing pains and tonight was one of them.”
The JV game was all Warsaw in a 32-8 final score. Abby Sanner led all scorers with 10 points, Sydney Lancaster had eight points and five rebounds, and Adin Um had five rebounds and four assists.
One note from the evening non-basketball related was the continued partnership between the Warsaw and Valley communities. After the horrible week Valley endured with the bus accident, Warsaw again stepped forward to offer help. The cheerleaders, as well as the boosters and the fan bases as a whole, came together at halftime and raised nearly $360 to go towards relief efforts for the families involved in the accident. Small drop in the bucket, but another gesture of good will between communities that have relied upon each other in recent years when tragedy has struck.