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  • Val T.

Mellott’s 3-point shooting helps Valley win twice at West Noble tourney, extend win streak to 7

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

LIGONIER — The other teams are playing checkers, but the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team is playing Ches.

More specifically, that would be sophomore backup guard Chesnee Miller, who scored a career-high 10 points in a 54-42 win over Lakeland at the West Noble Holiday Hoops

Corinna Stiles

Shootout Thursday and then followed it up with six steals in a 45-27 win over West Noble in a game that started less than two hours after the Lakeland game ended.

The twin wins extended Valley’s winning streak to seven and improved their record to 10-5. The games were Valley’s first two games against sectional opponents this season. They will play NorthWood (Jan. 11) and Wawasee (Jan. 25) later. The sectional is Feb. 1-5 at NorthWood.

Kaydence Mellott scored 17 points in each game. She hit five 3-pointers against Lakeland and four more against West Noble.

“I think we just got more confident in ourselves and learning how to play together,” Mellott said. “We all work together in the summer, and so I feel like it just took time, and that’s what we needed.”

Corinna Stiles had a double-double against Lakeland (11 points, 11 rebounds) and then contributed eight points and nine rebounds against West Noble.

“I’m not saying that we played necessarily well today in general, but we played well enough to win, and sometimes winning ugly is better than not winning at all,” Valley coach Chris Kindig said.

Miller and Ava Smith are the first two players off Valley’s bench. Smith had four points in each game, but Miller and Smith also contribute defensively, pressuring ballhandlers and then hustling back and often getting steals if opponents advance the ball into the frontcourt.

Valley allowed 48.6 points per game last year but just 42 this year. They are allowing only 37.7 ppg during their winning streak. A blur in green and gold with a streak of pink hair, Miller’s energy is hard to ignore.

“To cause havoc,” Miller said when asked what her role is. “I just go out there and make them turn the ball over, so my teammates can get the ball and go and score.”

Said Kindig: “Chesnee is a difference maker right now for us on the defensive end.”

Valley 54, Lakeland 42

In the Lakeland game, Valley fell behind 11-4 but went on a 17-3 run covering the first and second quarters to take a 21-14 lead, and they never trailed again.

Miller tied the game at 11 on a transition layup and then was in the right place at the right time for a layup that tied the game at 13.

Mellott then hit four 3-pointers and outscored the entire Lakeland team 12-10 in the second quarter. A left corner trey made it 16-13, and another from the left wing made it 19-14. A Smith layup off a sweet Molly Moriarty dish made it 21-14.

Lakeland would get within 26-23 on a Peyton Hartsough 3-pointer on an inbounds play, but Lily Ault’s long 2-pointer and another Mellott left corner trey right before halftime extended the lead to eight at halftime.

“She has a lot of confidence,” Kindig said of Mellott. “And it’s one of those things where she’s got a shooter’s mentality. She misses one, and I don’t think that bothers her at all. … She shoots with a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of confidence in her too.”

Lakeland would get within 38-32 with 2:29 left in the third quarter on a Grace Iddings banker in the lane.

But Valley would answer with an 8-0 run covering the third and fourth quarters. Mercedes Snapp got a layup off a Stiles assist, Moriarty hit two free throws.

Buckets by Stiles and Smith would get the lead to 46-32.

“I think that we all just worked together, and we tried to match each other’s energy, and when Ava came in, she came out with a lot of energy, and when we all matched it, it was all good things that happened,” Mellott said. “Once someone goes hard, it’s kind of like a chain reaction.”

Junior point guard Peyton Hartsough hit three 3-pointers and led Lakeland with 15 points.

Valley 45, West Noble 27

Valley had only two field goals as compared to six turnovers in the third quarters, and what had been an 11-point halftime deficit was trimmed to 30-24 when Kristen Cox putback her own miss after an inbounds play.

But Valley countered with a 10-0 run covering the third and fourth quarters. Mellott highlighted the run by hitting treys on Valley’s first two possessions of the fourth quarter. Stiles capped the run with a putback to make it 40-24.

Hawked by Miller and the rest of the Valley defense, West Noble had more turnovers (32) than points.

“Last year, we played in this tournament, and they really tore us up with their press,” Kindig said. “Today we had 16 turnovers, but a lot of that wasn’t forced from their press. So that was a big difference too.”

Miller left with an injury with 3:45 left diving for a loose ball but was back in at the 2:16 mark.

“I was running towards the ball, and another girl was also running towards the ball, and we collided, and I smacked my head on the side of something,” Miller explained. “I don’t know. I thought I was going to be out, but I came back in.”

Valley went on a 9-0 run in the first quarter to take a 12-4 lead. Three-pointers from Ault and Mellott to start the second quarter extended the lead to 18-6.

The lead was 28-17 at halftime.

Jazmyn Smith, a 6-0 senior post player who also helped with the ballhandling, led West Noble (5-10) with eight points.

In the other games in the tournament, Concord lost to West Noble 39-31 and Lakeland 54-43.

Valley 54, Lakeland 42

VALLEY (54) (9-5)

Lily Ault 1 0-0 2, Kaydence Mellott 5 2-2 17, Molly Moriarty 2 2-4 6, Corinna Stiles 5 1-1 11, Mercedes Snapp 2 0-0 4, Ava Smith 2 0-0 4, Chesnee Miller 5 0-0 10

TEAM: 22 5-7 54

LAKELAND (42) (7-9)

Hayden Frost 2 0-0 5, Peyton Hartsough 6 0-0 15, Alivia Rasler 4 1-2 9, Kayla Poole 2 1-4 5, Cara Schackow 2 0-0 4, Pilar Canedo 1 0-0 2, Grace Iddings 1 0-0 2, Takaya Wallace 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 18 2-6 42

Three-point field goals:

Valley 5 (Mellott 5),

Lakeland 4 (Hartsough 3, Frost)

Total fouls: Valley 9, Lakeland 9

Turnovers: Valley 18, Lakeland 15

Score by quarters

Valley 13 18 11 12 – 54

Lakeland 13 10 9 10 – 42

Valley 45, West Noble 27

WEST NOBLE (27) (5-10)

Alexia Mast 0 2-2 2, Sherlyn Torres 3 0-0 6, Sara Gross 2 1-2 5, Alayna DeLong 1 1-2 3, Jazmyn Smith 3 2-3 8, Tara Gross 0 0-0 0, Ella Stoner 0 0-0 0, Kristen Cox 1 1-2 3, Bryanna Bowman 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 10 7-11 27

VALLEY (45) (10-5)

Lily Ault 2 0-0 6, Kaydence Mellott 5 3-4 17, Molly Moriarty 1 1-2 3, Corinna Stiles 3 2-5 8, Mercedes Snapp 1 1-2 3, Ava Smith 1 2-2 4, Macy Peterson 0 0-0 0, Chesnee Miller 2 0-1 4

TEAM: 15 9-16 45

Three-point field goals:

West Noble 0,

Valley 6 (Mellott 4, Ault 2)

Total fouls: West Noble 18, Valley 15

Fouled out: Smith (WN), :45.3, fourth

Turnovers: West Noble 32, Valley 16

Score by quarters

West Noble 6 11 7 3 – 27

Valley 12 16 4 13 – 45


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