Kirchenstien’s injury, Perkins’ foul trouble mars Valley’s loss to Whitko
Leasure, Shepherd, Cumberland score in double figures, but Vikes drop to 0-3 in TRC
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON –- Just as the Tippecanoe Valley boys basketball team gets healthier, they suffered another injury Wednesday.
They also suffered another loss to drop them to 0-3 in the Three Rivers Conference.
Brett Sickafoose scored a game-high 23 points, Drake Lewis added 13, and Aiden Hoiffman poured in 11 to lead Whitko to a 61-50 TRC road win over the Vikings at Rita Price Simpson Court.
Paul Leasure scored 18 points, Braden Shepherd had 14, and Nolan Cumberland had 11 for Valley.
Whitko improved to 6-3 overall and 1-1 in the TRC. Valley fell to 2-8, 0-3.
Valley trailed 45-36 going into the fourth quarter and would get the deficit down to seven at 52-45 on a Leasure pullup in the lane.
Then Valley would force Whitko into a five seconds closely-guarded violation, but Valley turned it back over, and after another exchange of turnovers Kylar Bryant would hit three of four free throws and Aiden Hoffman would score in transition to get the lead back to 12.
The bigger story for Valley might revolve around junior guard-forward Rex Kirchenstien, who suffered a left ankle injury with 3:17 left in the first quarter and had to be helped off the court. In addition, fellow junior big man Dawson Perkins picked up his second foul in the first quarter and had to go to the bench.
Whitko went on a 12-0 run with both Kirchenstien and Perkins out in the second quarter, turning a 16-14 deficit into a 26-16 lead. Sickafoose had seven points during that run, which he capped with a driving runner with a 3-point play.
“That hurt big,” Valley coach Chad Patrick said of having to sit the 6-7 Perkins. “I toyed with the idea of keeping him in, but we stayed with him until the last couple minutes there and got down, but the beginning of the third quarter just killed us too. That three or four-minute stretch, they got it up to 15 points. I will give our kids credit. We never give up. We fight back. But if the other team gets a lead like that, it’s hard to come back from that.”
Whitko pressured Valley in the backcourt, forcing turnovers and keeping Valley from getting comfortable offensively.
“We’re just not a very good ballhandling team right now,” Patrick said. “So it wasn’t the amount of turnovers when they’re pressing, but it’s the kind of turnovers. It led to eight points, and we were down seven and running a play that works for Paul every time, and we throw it off a foot. … We’re making 30-foot passes against that zone, and they just extended it. It wasn’t a great zone. We practice every day and work against that pressure passing on all sorts of drills, and they do well, but we’re not going against five seniors either and good teams.”
In halfcourt situations, Bryant and Sickafoose both had the defense on Leasure at times, and Whitko also mixed in some zone.
“The big thing is we wanted to try to keep them off balance,” Whitko first-year coach Chris Benedict said. “We played the press to kinda back into a zone on makes, and on misses, we played man to just mix it up a little bit and try to slow them up in the full court and not let them get into their halfcourt stuff that they’re really, really good at. The big kid got in foul trouble in the first half, and that hurt a little bit obviously.
“But to our credit, our guys did a really good job of doing what we needed to do.”
After Whitko opened the second half on a 12-4 run to open a 43-25 lead, Valley replied with an 11-0 run. Shepherd hit a floater in the lane, Leasure hit a pullup 12-footer, Perkins scored on a power layup, Cumberland hit a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Leasure drove down the middle of the lane for a layup.
But Sickafoose answered with a driving bucket with 53 seconds left, and Whitko had a nine-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
The injury to Kirchenstien is just the latest to hit the Valley roster. Leasure and Perkins have also missed time. Throw in two long pauses due to contact tracing, and that has also kept the team from gaining continuity.
But Patrick said there is still time for the team to make significant achievements.
“That hurts, but we just got to keep plugging away. We’ve had horrible breaks all year, but there’s no excuse. Everybody’s got those same issues. So we’ve just got to keep plugging away. Get good here in January, and get great in February and hopefully win a tournament.”
Valley also won the JV game 44-42. Riley Shepherd scored 11 points, Nathan Parker had eight, and Dylan Neese had seven for Valley.
Whitko 61, Valley 50
WHITKO (61) (6-3, 1-1)
Drake Lewis 5 3-5 13, Kylar Bryant 2 3-4 8, Brett Sickafoose 8 6-7 23, Dale Reiff 2 0-0 6, Aiden Hoffman 4 0-0 11, Mason Streby 0 0-0 0, Andrew Swartz 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 21 12-16 61
VALLEY (50) (2-8, 0-3)
Rex Kirchenstien 0 0-0 0, Brendyn Stump 0 0-0 0, Paul Leasure 8 0-0 18, Nolan Cumberland 3 4-4 11, Dawson Perkins 2 1-2 5, Cooper Walls 0 0-0 0, Braden Shepherd 6 0-0 14, D.J. Estep 0 0-0 0, Chase Miller 0 2-2 2
TEAM: 19 7-8 50
Three-point field goals:
Whitko 7 (Hoffman 3, Reiff 2, Sickafoose, Bryant),
Valley 5 (Leasure 2, Shepherd 2, Cumberland)
Total fouls: Whitko 9, Valley 17
Fouled out: Shepherd (TV), :19.0, fourth
Turnovers: Whitko 9, Valley 14
Score by quarters
Whitko 12 19 14 16 – 61
Valley 12 9 15 14 – 50
JV: Valley 44, Whitko 42