Backus has torn ACL, but Wagner, Mellott key Valley win over Argos
Edmonds, VanDerWeele had 10 each for Lady Dragons in loss
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON –- Playing for the first time in two weeks Tuesday, the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team encountered a new reality.
Senior post player Hayley Backus has a torn right ACL. Coach Chris Kindig has not ruled her out for the season. She will be fitted with a brace and try to practice before trying to play in a game.
Without her, Sidney Wagner and Kaydence Mellott scored 21 points to lead the Lady Vikings past Argos 59-39 at the TVHS gym.
Lizzy Edmonds and Madilyn VanDerWeele scored 10 points each for Argos (0-4).
Due to coronavirus-enforced contact tracing, the game was a reboot on both teams’ seasons: Argos was playing their first game in three weeks, and Valley was playing their first game in two weeks.
Backus suffered her knee injury in the first quarter of a 54-38 loss against Northwestern on Nov. 14.
“We’re not sure when she’s going to be back,” Kindig said. “She’s got to get a brace yet, and we’ve got to figure out whether she can move on that brace or not. She’s got to go through two or three or four practices where she can do everything that everybody else can do. That’s run, that’s rebound, that’s be able to play defense. It probably could be a couple weeks yet.”
Mercedes Snapp started a Nov. 17 win at South Central (Union Mills). Against Argos, Corinna Stiles returned from quarantine to start with Wagner, Mellott, Lily Ault and Ashley Butler. Snapp and Rily Holloway came off the bench.
Valley hosts Plymouth Thursday and will visit Wabash for their Three Rivers Conference opener on Saturday.
“We were just glad to be able to play a game tonight,” Kindig said. “Get back into it a little bit. It wasn’t very pretty tonight at times, but you know, it’s getting out there and playing and hopefully getting us ready for the rest of the week because we have a big week.”
Valley led 13-8 after one quarter and never trailed after that.
Trailing by 13 points, Argos went on an 8-0 run in the second quarter with Sydney Shepherd and Carleigh Miller sandwiching 3-pointers around a Samantha Redinger pullup banker to stay within 27-22.
Valley took advantage of a double possession as part of a 7-0 run covering the second and
third quarters. Mellott hit two free throws with 0.9 seconds left in the half after VanDerWeele fouled her to slow down a two-on-one break with Wagner.
Mellott then hit a try on the first possession of the second half, and Butler scored in transition to make it 34-22.
The lead stayed in double figures the rest of the way. A Stiles putback, a Mellott trey, two Wagner free throws and a Snapp layup with five seconds left closed out a 9-0 third-quarter run. The lead eventually reached 25 in the fourth quarter.
Mellott and Wagner combined for eight 3-pointers. Neither is afraid to shoot the trey in transition.
“It’s one thing I stressed to them,” Argos first-year coach Scott Jennings said. “After our shot, we’ve got to sprint back on defense, and we just did not do that. Even at halftime, I said stop the ball. Whoever is closest to the ball, stop them at halfcourt. We can’t let them penetrate clear to the basket off the fast break, and we struggled with that tonight. I don’t know if it’s just being a little out of shape or just not hustling back. We’ll watch some game film and just see that we were not stopping very good off the break at all.”
Meanwhile, Valley advanced the lead thanks to a season-high point total from Mellott.
“I thought she got us going in the third quarter,” Kindig said of Mellott. “It was a close game, and she broke it open for us a little bit. She’s been playing well, but she does a lot of other things really well for us too. I played her at the point guard position there the last couple of minutes.”
Wagner called the last two weeks a “roller coaster.”
“The whole team, we have not practiced in two weeks just because of COVID,” Wagner said. “Our first practice was last Wednesday. My first practice was Friday because I got contact traced, but it was a drag. We definitely came out into this game, and we were a little slow, but it was expected because we hadn’t practiced in two weeks.”
Wagner played the back row in Valley’s 2-3 zone. That might become the norm with Backus out.
“It definitely changes on defense,” Wagner said. “We like to pack it in now. Just because we don’t have a six-foot rebounder any more. That’s a big loss for us. We all try to push the boards – four in, one out. Four guards pretty much going in and rebounding.”
As for Argos, they had one practice before playing in this game. Jennings said he led “virtual workouts” on Zoom to try to keep the team in physical condition.
“Trying to keep them in shape and a little team camaraderie and trying to keep the team chemistry together while you’re off for two weeks, but we did the best we could, I thought,” Jennings said. “But you could tell we hadn’t played for two weeks, and it showed tonight.”
Valley also won the JV game 52-17. Macy Petersen had 16 points, Chesnee Miller had 12, and Molly Moriarty had 11 for the Lady Vikings.
Valley 59, Argos 39
ARGOS (39) (0-4)
Emma Dunlap 0 0-0 0, Carleigh Miller 1 0-0 3, Sophie Bollenbacher 2 0-0 4, Bella Stults 2 0-0 4, Lizzy Edmonds 4 2-3 10, Samanatha Redinger 2 0-0 5, Sydney Shepherd 1 0-0 3, Madi VanDerWeele 3 4-6 10
TEAM: 15 6-9 39
VALLEY (59) (3-1)
Sidney Wagner 6 6-6 21, Lily Ault 1 0-0 2, Kaydence Mellott 6 4-4 21, Ashley Butler 1 0-2 2, Corinna Stiles 2 0-0 4, Rily Holloway 2 0-0 5, Mercedes Snapp 2 0-0 4
TEAM: 20 10-12 59
Three-point field goals:
Argos 3 (Shepherd, Miller, Redinger),
Valley 9 (Mellott 5, Wagner 3, Holloway)
Total fouls: Argos 9, Valley 14
Turnovers: Argos 19, Valley 14
Score by quarters
Argos 8 14 7 10 – 39
Valley 13 16 21 9 – 59
JV: Valley 52, Argos 17