AKRON – If Tippecanoe Valley can put together four quarters of basketball like the fourth quarter it played Tuesday night, the Vikings could be in for a long postseason run.
Valley opened the fourth quarter on a 16-0, turning an eight-point deficit into a lead it wouldn’t lose, eventually handing Wabash its first Three Rivers Conference loss in a 54-46 final in boys hoops.
It was quite a performance for the Vikes, which saw the Apaches rattle off the final six points of the third quarter and build a 39-31 advantage that looked, at the time, like a backbreaker.
But out of the gate in the fourth, Parkur Dalrymple dropped a bucket, and after a stop on the other end, Jace Potter got an and-one, all the while getting Elijah Vander Velden to commit two fouls in the span of four seconds. Potter again stepped to the line and made one of two free throws, and after another empty possession from Wabash, Tanner Trippiedi hit a short runner to tie the game at 39.
“We were a little gunshy of Wabash for whatever reason early on,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Chad Patrick. “They throttled us in Wabash last year. They hit six threes early and buried us. I told the kids at practice last night if we play D, they won’t shoot that well this time. It took a little while for our guys to realize that hey, we can be in the same gym as them. We are as good as they are, if not better. That fourth quarter showed it. For whatever reason, they finally got that swagger.”
Wes Melanson’s two free throws gave Valley the lead at 41-39, it’s first lead of the second half, and six more made free throws from the Vikings pushed the lead all the way to eight at 47-39, a shocking turn of events amidst the 16-0 run. Vander Velden finally broke the streak with a layup, but the damage had been done after a seven-minute Valley run.
Valley, which had only competed in one game in the past 10 days, played smart basketball for much of the game, and used its defense to its advantage. Driving directly at Wabash’s players, the Apaches were relegated to foul trouble early, and it caught up to them in the fourth. Two Apaches fouled out and two more straddled with four as Valley continued to pound the inside as the second half wore on. Parkur Dalrymple, known more for his outside shooting, finished at the rack on multiple occasions and led the team with 14 points, as did Jalen Shepherd. Trippiedi was one behind with 13 points, and the three combined for 15 rebounds.
Cam Parker added eight points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, and Valley won the rebounding battle 37-31, and pulled down 12 offensive boards. The Vikes were also 19-26 from the free throw line, going 15-19 in the fourth quarter.
“Our fourth quarters have been strong this season, but we always have that one quarter where we struggle,” stated Patrick. “We knew when they finished off the third that way, I told the kids that was their run. We haven’t have ours yet and this is our quarter, this is where we pick it up.”
Vander Velden led the Apaches with 20 points, nine boards and five blocks and Trent Daughtry, one of the top scorers in the TRC, was shut down with just five points, 12 below his average. Wabash (12-4) dropped its first game in the TRC to move to 6-1, leaving the door wide open for Valley, which improves to 6-2, but also Manchester, sitting at 4-1 with four TRC games in hand this month.
Wabash commanded the JV game, having nine players score in a 59-42 win. Bryant Boggs had 15 points and Zack Reed had 12 points in the win while Ross O’Connor paced Valley with 22 points.
Valley (10-8), winners of three in a row, visit North Miami Friday to close out its TRC schedule. Wabash hosts Rochester Friday night.