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  • Val T.

Frying ‘Pan:’ Kindig: Valley girls may have run out of gas in loss to Western


Sports Editor, RTC

Ava Egolf

RUSSIAVILLE — It was not just that the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team was playing their second game in as many days.

It was that they were playing their second road game in as many days over an hour drive from home against the 12th-ranked team in the state in which they had to endure much of the second quarter without their leading scorer.

Still, Valley and Western were tied at 36 with 4:23 left before Western closed on an 8-1 run to win 44-37 and hand Valley their first loss.

Western improved to 5-0. The seven-point margin of victory represented their largest lead.

Point guard Mackenzie York led Western with 11 points, and Kayleigh Turner and backup post player Ellyse Walden added 10 each.

Switching up between a man-to-man, a zone and a 2-2-1 fullcourt press, the Lady Panthers held Valley scoreless over the final 3:47 and without a field goal after Carlee Snyder’s nifty cutting scoop layup off a Kelsey Cox assist with 5:42 left.

“We just got stagnant,” Valley coach Chris Kindig said. “We’ve really been finishing strong most games, but this wasn't one of them. … We allowed a couple inside plays, layups. I think that big girl (Walden) got a couple baskets inside off Kelsey Cox that hurt us a little bit. That was a big factor too. … It’s just those little things here and there that add up to a seven-point loss.”

Ava Egolf had a game-high 16 for Valley (5-1), even though she suffered a neck injury after a collision with Turner with 6:37 left in the half. Turner appeared to grab at her knee and left the game only to return after missing only 26 seconds of game time.

Egolf hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the first quarter, but Valley did not have a field goal in the second quarter without her, and they did not hit another 3 again in the game.

“Obviously, a big factor was Ava going out there in that second quarter and not having her for basically the whole second quarter,” Kindig said. “Because she came out shooting the ball extremely well, was really getting us going and getting our juices going. I think that just really killed our offensive momentum, and we were making changes defensively too.”

Western trailed by as many as seven in the first quarter but rallied to take a 20-18 lead at halftime.

There were seven lead changes in the fourth quarter, the last occurring when Walden scored on a drop step move in the post to give Western a 38-36 lead with 4:06 left.

That came after a timeout in which Western coach Misty Oliver emphasized not turning the ball over and to stay "fundamentally sound.”

Egolf split a pair of free throws, but Valley’s final seven possessions resulted in five missed shots and two turnovers.

Western’s defensive adjustments were designed to get Valley guessing.

“That was the objective, just to not let them get comfortable in a rotation in their offense,” Oliver said. “We like to mix it up. We like to go zone and man. And all the times, it depends on my personnel, who’s in and who’s not in. Because we’ve got some players that you don’t really want to press with, but if I’ve got my starting five in, then we’ll press.”

A driving layup from York, two Turner free throws and two York free throws with 19.3 seconds left completed the scoring.

The teams will meet again at the Carroll (Flora) tournament on Dec. 22. The circumstances figure to be different for the rematch. Both teams played on Tuesday. Valley’s game with NorthWood Tuesday went overtime, and the team did not get home until 11:30 p.m.

Then, they had another drive of over an hour to get to Western.

“That’s a good team we lost to,” Kindig said. “And we’ll see them again. … Again, that’s a good team you’re losing to at their place after an hour-and-15-minute bus ride playing the night before and playing in overtime the night before. So I think we may just have run out of a little bit of gas at the end in that fourth quarter.”

Oliver paid respects to Valley’s defensive effort afterwards. Western became the first team to break the 40-point barrier against Valley this season.

“They’re just hard-nosed,” Oliver said. “Their girls play hard. They play great on-the-ball pressure. They’re coached well. Nineteen turnovers is probably the highest we had all year. They definitely affected us.”

Western 44, Valley 37

VALLEY (37) (5-1)

Gaby Gonzalez 2 1-2 5, Ava Egolf 6 1-3 16, Chesnee Miller 2 2-2 6, Ava Smith 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Cox 1 0-0 2, Macy Petersen 0 2-2 2, Dalynne Bussard 0 1-2 1, Carlee Snyder 2 1-2 5, Lucy Hayden 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 13 8-13 37

WESTERN (44) (5-0)

Chloe Hunt 2 0-0 4, Kayleigh Turner 4 2-2 10, Mackenzie York 4 2-2 11, Lauren Bradley 1 1-2 3, McKenna Smith 3 0-2 6, Reyce Gibson 0 0-0 0, Ellyse Walden 4 2-2 10

TEAM: 18 7-10 44

Three-point field goals:

Valley 3 (Egolf 3),

Western 1 (York)

Total fouls: Valley 16, Western 10

Turnovers: Valley 17, Western 19

Score by quarters

Valley 15 3 9 10 – 37

Western 10 10 8 16 – 44

JV: Western 40, Valley 33

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