BOURBON — The Lady Vikings have benefitted from an awful lot of balance so far this season. They didn’t get that balance at Triton Wednesday, unfortunately. But they did get a game-changing performance from junior guard Sidney Wagner.
Wagner stood out on both ends of the floor, putting up a game-high 19 points with five steals and two assists to help lead visiting Tippecanoe Valley over host Triton, 43-20 at the Trojan Trench.
“Like I’ve said before, we’ve had some pretty good athletes come through our program, and she’s right there at the top with any of them athletically,” said Valley coach Chris Kindig. “Fortunately, she’s a junior, and she’s still got a huge upside. She hasn’t hit her potential yet, and I don’t think she knows how good she can be, but we’re going to try to figure that out throughout the season.”
“She’s a good athlete. We don’t quite have the athlete to keep up with her at this point right now, and she took advantage of that. She did what she needed to do for them,” said Triton coach Adam Heckaman.
While Wagner did most of the offensive heavy lifting for the Vikings, Valley’s defensive pressure generated 16 turnovers from the hosts. All in all, that wasn’t all that bad a showing by the Trojans, but the visitors did turn them over several times during a 10-2 first quarter-ending run that gave the Vikings most of the separation it would need.
“We got our margin there. We were able to get out front and get a couple steals for some transition baskets,” recalled Kindig of the late first-period run. “We talked about that before the game. I thought Triton, you watch them on film, a lot of teams have pressed them, and I think they really have come a long way since the beginning of the year as far as handling the pressure. But we were able to turn them over a few times and get some easy transition baskets to kind of give us that working margin.”
“I told the girls overall I wasn’t too upset,” said Heckaman. “I thought our effort was there. We hustled. There were some things defensively we need to do better — we got a little overanxious sometimes and let them just go right by us — but for the most part it was a good effort. I thought we moved the ball better against their zone than we have all year. There were still too many turnovers, but we got better shots tonight than we have against the zone. Our next step is knocking some of them down.”
The Trojans did struggle shooting the ball, converting only 9-of-32 (28 percent) of their shots from the floor, but they also held a Valley team that has shown the ability to pour it on down to just 18-of-49 (36.7 percent) shooting from the field. Triton didn’t have any big offensive producers at the game but instead got its scoring done by committee as Whytnie Miller finished with five points, Taren Yates and Jaelyn Bules each scored four, and Jessica Soriano scored three.
Behind Wagner’s near-20, but Vikings did much the same with six points apiece from Emma Craig and Jillian Walls and five each from Kaydence Mellott and Hayly Backus, who also pulled down seven rebounds and blocked two shots on the interior.
The Trojans slipped to 4-7 with their first loss in three games and will host Elkhart Christian in a JV only contest Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Valley improves to 8-2 with its third straight win and will travel to North Miami for a Three Rivers Conference game Friday at 7:45 p.m.
“My theme here is if we get to the point where we start playing four quarters of basketball, I think we’re going to be a tough out for anybody. And this team really hasn’t touched all of their potential yet,” Kindig said.
“I like where we’re at right now, but we’ve just got to keep getting better and better. We can’t just stay the same. You stay the same, you’re probably going backwards.”
Valley’s JV pulled away in the final moments of a nip-tuck opener in Bourbon, 27-23, meanwhile. Molly Moriarty put up nine points to lead the Vikings, including five during a decisive, 13-4 fourth quarter by the visitors. Emma Hepler scored a game-high 10 points for the Triton JV.