SYRACUSE – Five months ago, Chad Patrick wasn’t so sure this was the year. Five months later, his Valley basketball team convinced him.
The Vikings won its first sectional since 2013 in taking down Wawasee, 43-31, Saturday night in the championship of the Class 3-A Wawasee Boys Basketball Sectional. The win continued an impressive run for the Vikings, winners of eight of its past nine games, and handing Patrick his first sectional championship.
“It gives me chills just thinking about it,” Patrick said, both smiling and holding back emotions at times as the accomplishment started settling in. “I seriously thought we were going to have to be young again. I was hoping to win 8-10 games. Our goal was to win half our games, win the TRC, that was our goal this year. I thought we could finish in the top half of the conference and have a shot at sectional. I wasn’t sure about the .500 wins.
“These four seniors just gelled and came to life and just played amazing.”
Valley, which knocked off a very pesky NorthWood side Friday night in the semis, had to up the standard in playing a host that had absolutely nothing to lose. And after Wawasee’s impressive whipping of West Noble in the second semi Friday night, Patrick was concerned with the Warriors’ shooting prowess. In part to some fantastic perimeter defense and Wawasee’s suddenly cold shooting touch, the task of staying ahead was all Valley needed, which it did from start to finish.
Cam Parker had the task of keeping Wawasee’s Bennett Hoffert from getting hot and succeeded. Hoffert, who drilled five threes and scored 19 points Friday night, was held largely in check Saturday with just seven points on 2-14 shooting. Wawasee as a whole shot 50 percent Friday night and hit nine from downtown. Against Valley, the opposite, going 4-22 from range and just 10-41 overall, a clammy 24 percent.
The Warriors also managed to make just one field goal in the second and fourth quarters, the lone splash a three from Aaron Evans while Wawasee was in chase mode late in the fourth. Wawasee scored just nine points in those two quarters.
“I told the guys before the game, we’re going to throw our best out there, and if it’s good enough we’re going to celebrate. If it’s not good enough, we’re going to be OK,” said Wawasee head coach Jon Everingham. “It wasn’t good enough tonight. Tippy Valley was a better team and they deserved to win. Congratulations to coach Patrick and his staff and all the players from Tippy Valley.”
Valley continued to do what got it to Saturday night, mixing inside and outside when the matchups were right. A pair of threes from Rex Kirchenstein and Parkur Dalrymple gave Valley a 22-13 lead in the second quarter, and while the Warriors whittled the lead down to five at 32-27 entering the fourth, Valley scored the first five points of the quarter to push it to double digits again.
The Vikings were 9-14 from the line in the fourth quarter, sealing up its 10th sectional title in program history. The program has also tripled its win output from a year ago, going from five wins in 2018 to now 15 in 2019.
Dalrymple led Valley with 16 points, Parker finished with eight points and eight rebounds, Tanner Trippiedi and Jalen Shepherd both had six points, and Wes Melanson, who hit for a career-high 17 points Friday night against NorthWood, didn’t score but had eight boards and a lot of defensive touches.
“I knew last night after I hit my first one I was like OK it’s going to be a good night,” started Melanson, “It just felt so good. Every single shot I shot was perfect except the one I missed. Still felt good. Tonight they didn’t fall but I tried to do other things. I said if I go 0-7 it doesn’t matter tonight, if we win, I don’t care. I can play the worst game of my life, but as long as we win sectionals, I’m good. I just wanted to do my part tonight if I wasn’t hitting shots. I think I did a great job with that and I think we had a great team win tonight.”
Wawasee had its seniors doing a bulk of the work in their final appearances at the Hardwood Teepee. Ethan Hardy ended with nine points and five boards, Austin Miller had eight points and six boards, Hoffert with his seven points, and Evans with five points, five rebounds and four assists. The Warriors conclude at 6-17 overall.
Valley (15-9) now shifts to prep for the Marion Regional, where it will get the task of trying to take down No. 1 Delta, which moved to 26-0 after rallying to beat New Castle 59-55. The Valley-Delta matchup is game two of the regional set for approximately noon next Saturday. Game one will feature the host Marion Giants (17-7), a 66-40 winner over Heritage, taking on the Angola Hornets (20-5), which beat New Haven 47-37.