Mellott’s late FT throws salt away Valley win over Rochester
Lady Vikes improve to 6-0 in TRC, 8-0 at home; Clevenger scores 9 for Lady Zs
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON — Rochester girls basketball coach Joel Burrus said after his team’s game with Tippecanoe Valley Saturday that they knew coming in that they could not play a “conventional” type of game and win.
“You’ve got to do some different things against a really good team,” Burrus said.
As it turned out, the unconventional way did not lead to a victory either.
Kaydence Mellott scored a game-high 11 points, and the Lady Viking defense held Rochester without a field goal for over 15 minutes between the first and third quarters to grind out a 26-15 win.
Mellott, who ranked eighth in the state with 58 made 3-pointers, did not hit a 3 in this game, but after a scoreless first half, she outscored the entire Rochester team 11-10 in the second half.
Lily Ault hit a pair of 3-pointers and had six.
Rylee Clevenger hit three 3-pointers and scored nine points for Rochester. Emma Howdeshell had three, Kallie Watson had two, and Rily Holloway had one.
Valley improved to 15-3 overall and 6-0 in the Three Rivers Conference. They also improved to 8-0 at home.
“Sometimes it’s OK to win 26-15,” Valley coach Chris Kindig said. “It’s OK to win. It sure beats losing 26-15. There are no moral victories here, especially in a conference game.”
Valley can clinch a share of the TRC title with a home win over Peru on Tuesday. They need to win two of their remaining three conference games to clinch the outright conference title.
Rochester fell to 9-11, 4-3.
Operating deliberately and with discipline on offense, Rochester scored on their first two possessions – a Clevenger trey and a Howdeshell driving layup – to take a 5-0 lead.
Valley switched from a 2-3 zone to a fullcourt press and then moved up their zone closer to halfcourt. Reserve guards Chesnee Miller and Gabby Gonzalez applied defensive pressure on Rochester’s guards after starting point guard Molly Moriarty picked up two fouls in the first quarter. Senior forward Corinna Stiles’ job on defense was to protect the rim but also be quick to react quickly if Holloway caught the ball beyond the arc in the corner.
“Make sure that I was defending the post but also not letting them get it to the shooter on my outside, so I had to really watch and pay attention and make sure that both Rilys (Holloway and Clevenger) weren’t on my side so they didn’t get shots. … I was always feeling like I was caught in between who do I guard. Do I guard the middle, or do I guard the outside?”
Valley would get within 5-2 on a Moriarty runner in the first quarter and tie the game on an Ault triple. Two Macy Petersen buckets, a 15-footer from the left elbow and a reverse layup putback, gave Valley a 9-5 lead at halftime.
“Rochester defensively is really pretty doggone good,” Kindig said. “They really make it difficult to get the ball inside, and if you’re not shooting the ball well from the outside, it makes it doubly difficult.”
Rochester hung within 14-11 in the third quarter on a Clevenger 3 from in front of the Rochester bench and a steal and nifty spin layup in transition from Watson.
But Miller answered with her own steal and layup, which started a 7-0 run that bled into the fourth quarter.
Mellott’s two free throws with 3:21 left gave Valley their first double-digit lead at 21-11.
“As the game went along, we tried to amp the pressure up a little bit more and a little bit more all the time,” Kindig said. “And I think in the second half, I think it kicked in a little bit, and we were able to turn them over. I thought our pressure defense was really the difference in the game. You give up 15 points in a high school girls basketball game, that’s doing your job defensively.”
Valley did not record a field goal in the fourth quarter, but Mellott and Kelsey Cox combined to go 8 for 10 from the foul line.
“We always want to beat Rochester,” Mellott said. “It might not have been the prettiest thing, but you know, a win’s a win, and we’re happy about it.”
Valley forced 20 turnovers and held Holloway, who has made 40 3-pointers this season, to a free throw in the final minute.
Rochester went just 2 for 7 from the line. This marked the seventh game this season that Rochester has shot under 50 percent on free throws.
“They’re a really good defensive team,” Burrus said. “I felt like we had a good game plan. If we cut those turnovers in half, if we hit free throws, it’s probably a little different game. We held them to 26 points. … But the turnovers too, a lot of those, like at the end of the second quarter there, we had three or four in a row, they brought the heat on us, and I also think we were getting tired of playing keep away.
“In a game like this, every point is crucial, and everything’s a chess match. We’re going to have to clean some things up, and it would also be nice to play them on a neutral court in the sectional.”
While a rematch in Class 3A, Sectional 18, which begins at Bremen on Jan. 31 is possible, this was its own memorable game, not only in the Rochester-Valley rivalry but for those who played in it.
This was senior night at Valley, and the traditional player postgame autograph session with some of the smaller Lady Vikings fans went on like always. And the Valley seniors like Moriarty, Ault, Mellott and Stiles got to celebrate a win over girls they see all the time from Rochester in not only basketball but also golf and softball.
“It’s really cool because we’re all friends, so we're all really competitive, so when we get at it, we get at it,” Stiles said. “We’re all used to pushing each other. I think you can see we were getting at it a little bit there, but that’s just because we’re all competitive.”
Valley 26, Rochester 15
ROCHESTER (15) (9-11, 4-3)
Rily Holloway 0 1-2 1, Rylee Clevenger 3 0-0 9, Kallie Watson 1 0-0 2, Emma Howdeshell 1 1-4 3, Sydney Haughs 0 0-0 0, Ella McCarter 0 0-1 0
TEAM: 5 2-7 15
VALLEY (26) (15-3, 6-0)
Lily Ault 2 0-0 6, Kaydence Mellott 1 9-10 11, Molly Moriarty 1 0-0 2, Corinna Stiles 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Cox 0 1-2 1, Gabby Gonzalez 0 0-0 0, Macy Petersen 2 0-0 4, Chesnee Miller 1 0-0 2
TEAM: 7 10-12 26
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 3 (Clevenger 3),
Valley 2 (Ault 2)
Total fouls: Rochester 15, Valley 15
Turnovers: Rochester 20, Valley 13
Score by quarters
Rochester 5 0 6 4 – 15
Valley 2 7 9 8 – 26