Kiser overcomes illness, Cumberland overcomes physical defense as Valley beats Warsaw
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WARSAW — Whether it was a sick point guard, physical defense on their leading scorer or a starting guard fouling out in the third quarter, the Tippecanoe Valley boys basketball team hurdled multiple obstacles against host Warsaw at the Tiger Den Tuesday.
The sick point guard was Tayde Kiser, and not only did he play, but he scored a game-high 25 points, and teammate Nolan Cumberland scored the game-winning driving banker with 10 seconds left to give the Vikings a 57-56 win.
Valley improved to 18-4. Warsaw dropped to 13-9.
Cumberland, who came in averaging 19 points per game, was held to 11 due to tough, hounding defense, but he also contributed a crucial 3-point play with 2:14 left in addition to his game-winning bucket.
Cooper Walls also had 11, including three 3-pointers, before fouling out with 59.9 seconds left in the third quarter.
Valley also made all nine of their free throws.
Drew Heckaman led Warsaw with 16 points, including two dunks in the third quarter. Jaxson Gould added 12, and Luke Bricker totaled 10 off the bench.
After Cumberland’s go-ahead basket – it was the sixth lead change of the fourth quarter and the 16th lead change of the second half – Warsaw coach Matt Moore elected not to use his final timeout.
Gould raced up court and fired a pullup 3-pointer from 22 feet but missed. The ball bounced high off the rim and hit the wire supporting the basket. That gave Valley the ball out of bounds with 1.2 seconds left.
Luce called his final timeout.
Kiser fired a deep inbounds pass that Heckaman stole, but his 70-footer at the buzzer
was long, and Valley had their first win over Warsaw since November 2013 and their first road win over Warsaw since November 2006.
“We didn’t just cruise to a win,” Luce said. “We had adversity during that game that we could have looked at each other, pointed fingers, felt sorry for ourselves, and we didn’t. We stayed together. We fought back. We got the next stop. We got the next rebound. We just kept playing to win the game. And I think our guys got off the bus expecting to win the game. I felt like they were going to win the game, and they played with an attitude of winners tonight and were able to get it done.”
Heckaman hit two free throws after a hand-check foul called on Cumberland with 42.4 seconds left to give Warsaw a 56-55 lead.
With nothing materializing on the ensuing possession, Luce called timeout with 24.3 seconds left and called a play.
He wanted Kiser and Cumberland on the same side of the court. He wanted Kiser posting up. If Kiser was not open, then Cumberland was to look for his shot. Cumberland drove in and pulled up from 10 feet, hung in the air and kissed in the shot off the backboard.
“They played me really physical, which I’ve got to get over that,” Cumberland said. “But they were up in me pretty much the whole game.”
Luce said that was as well as Cumberland had been defended all season.
“He was pushed and shoved all night,” Luce said. “They played very physical with him. That’s how I would guard him too.”
for the final possession.
As for the final possession, Luce said it was a slight change in roles between Kiser and Cumberland.
“We inverted them,” Luce explained. “And we had Tayde cut off the back side to get to a post-up. We wanted our two best players on the same side of the floor, so that they couldn’t double-team Tayde. If they did, then we knew that Nolan would be able to score it. And then we had Riley (Shepherd) in the corner, knowing that he’s always capable of making a shot, and that cleared the lane for Nolan, if Tayde was overplayed, to drive it. So we just put them in the right spots, and the kids made the plays. Huge play by Cumberland to turn down what would have been a really tough entry pass and finish the game with a great shot to win.”
Valley might not have been in position to win without Kiser. He hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 46. After a Bricker free throw and a Heckaman trey gave Warsaw a 50-46 lead, Kiser hit a pullup 12-footer to cut the lead to two.
After Warsaw’s Trai Davis got an open layup off a slice cut to the hoop, Kiser then drove into the paint and had his initial shot blocked, but the ball bounced right back into his hands, and he scored on the second effort to make it 52-50.
Said Kiser: “Coach wants me to shoot the ball more, and I feel like that’s what is in my game, and I can do that, so I just tried to get that when I was open.”
Cumberland admired his teammate afterwards.
“He was great,” Cumberland said. “The nights that he’s on, it’s great watching him.”
A nifty spin banker from Cumberland led to a 3-point play and gave Valley a 53-52 lead. Gould answered with a tough floater along the right baseline, but Valley’s 6-6 freshman Stephen Akase got an offensive rebound off a Kiser air ball in the deep left corner and laid it in to put Valley back up 55-54 with 1:05 left.
Kiser played at Warsaw during the 2020-21 season before transferring to Valley. He had the defensive assignment on Gould, a player with whom he was familiar.
“I played with him, so I know him pretty well, played him all my life basically,” Kiser said. “He’s tough. He’s hard to stop, especially when he gets going, so I just tried not to let him get an open look to get him going.”
Luce said Kiser had been sick all day.
“He was throwing up at lunch,” Luce said. “He was throwing up at the end of the day, and his grandma had to bring him some liquids and some ibuprofen. There was no way he wasn’t going to play. He was really, really not feeling well, and that’s even more of a gutsy performance.”
When it was over, some Valley fans lingered on the court to celebrate their accomplishment. It was totally unlike what happened four days earlier, when Valley clinched the outright Three Rivers Conference title and cut down the nets at a completely empty Rita Price Simpson Court after arriving home from their game at Triton.
“Just us,” a smiling Luce said. “Just our team. … None of them had done it before. They had never cut a net down. It’s something that’s fun and special. There’s an art to it, and they need to learn how to do that.”
Valley opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run with help from two Walls 3-pointers right in front of the Warsaw bench to build a 19-10 lead, but Warsaw trimmed the lead to 25-24 at halftime.
Warsaw won the JV game 44-39.
Valley 57, Warsaw 56
VALLEY (57) (18-4)
Cooper Walls 4 0-0 11, Tayde Kiser 8 6-6 25, Nolan Cumberland 5 1-1 11, Stephen Akase 2 2-2 6, Kyler Johnson 2 0-0 4, Nate Parker 0 0-0 0, Riley Shepherd 0 0-0 0, Dylan Neese 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 21 9-9 57
WARSAW (56) (13-9)
Jaxson Gould 4 2-2 12, Carson Gould 1 0-0 2, Drew Heckaman 6 3-4 16, Will Bergen 0 0-0 0, Luke Yeager 1 0-0 2, Trai Davis 4 0-0 8, Luke Bricker 3 3-4 10, Andrew Potter 2 0-0 4, Brandt Martin 1 0-0 2
TEAM: 22 8-10 56
Three-point field goals:
Valley 6 (Walls 3, Kiser 3),
Warsaw 4 (J. Gould 2, Heckaman, Bricker)
Total fouls: Valley 17, Warsaw 14
Turnovers: Valley 16, Warsaw 8
Score by quarters
Valley 11 14 16 16 – 57
Warsaw 10 14 20 12 – 56
JV: Warsaw 44, Valley 39