Mellott scores 21, Valley starts season with 2-game road win streak
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
SOUTH BEND — Kaydence Mellott hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and scored a game-high 21 points, and Corinna Stiles had nine points and 12 rebounds to lead the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team to a 58-49 win over host South Bend St. Joseph Saturday.
Feeding off a 12-1 run covering the third and fourth quarters, Valley improved to 2-0 with both wins coming on the road. South Bend St. Joe fell to 0-1 despite Eliana Lang’s 19 points and Kenadie Schrock’s 11.
“I think it relaxed us a little bit,” Valley coach Chris Kindig said of Mellott’s flurry of early 3-pointers. “But that team didn’t give in. They played hard for 32 minutes. That was a big challenge for us. They got after it. I thought it was really good for us because we were able to … in a close game with some pressure and see how we handled that, and at times, we handled it OK, but it’s game two, and I think we still ended up with 22 turnovers.
“But overall, I thought that was a good start for us.”
Valley is in the midst of playing eight games in 20 days to start the season. Six of the eight games are on the road.
Mellott, who broke the school career record for 3-pointers two days earlier in a 68-32 win over Bremen, helped Valley take a 19-13 lead after one quarter. A Mellott layup opened the scoring in the second quarter and got the lead to eight.
The Lady Indians carved into what had been an eight-point deficit and cut the gap to 42-41 on a transition basket from Lang, a junior who played her first two prep seasons at John Glenn.
With South Bend St. Joe face-guarded Mellott to prevent her from getting open looks, Mellott put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket.
Alexa Langager split a pair of free throws for South Bend St. Joe before Molly Moriarty hit Kelsey Cox for a 12-footer.
Stiles’ two free throws with 8.9 seconds left in the third quarter got the lead to six.
Moriarty found Stiles on a press breaker to get the lead to eight. A post entry feed from Stiles to Cox led to another basket, and when Moriarty drove left baseline for a layup, Valley got the lead back to 54-42.
South Bend St. Joe got no closer than six after that.
Valley made just 4 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter and just 10 for 25 for the game. But after Mellott, they had both balanced scoring, including six points in the third quarter from Macy Petersen, and balanced ballhandling with Moriarty, Stiles and Lily Ault helping bring the ball up the court against South Bend St. Joe’s pressure.
Defensively, Valley played some man-to-man, some diamond press and some 2-2-1 press, some 1-3-1 press and even a box-in-one. Ault had the assignment of guarding Peyton Hull in the box-in-one. Hull, South Bend St. Joe’s leading returning scorer, was held to seven points and fouled out with 6:32 left.
“Sometimes you do it just to throw them off a little bit and give them something they haven’t seen, especially earlier in the year,” Kindig said. “It’s kind of a gamble defense, but overall, I think we did a really good job with it. I would say we probably took it off maybe midway third quarter or toward the end of the third quarter and just tried to focus on solid defense in that last quarter.”
South Bend St. Joe coach Scott Francoeur called his team “passive” offensively and said once they attacked the rim that they had more success.
“They’re really good,” Francoeur said of Valley. “They’re very well coached. Good disciplined team. They were able to withstand some things. We had some runs on them, and they withstood that. That’s senior leadership. That’s somebody who’s comfortable and doesn’t stress out. That team has that. And they were able to fight through a few things when they had some foul trouble. Other players stepped up and made some key shots for them.”
Valley 58, South Bend St. Joe 49
VALLEY (58) (2-0)
Lily Ault 2 0-0 6, Molly Moriarty 3 1-9 7, Kaydence Mellott 7 4-6 21, Macy Petersen 3 0-0 6, Corinna Stiles 3 2-3 9, Ava Smith 0 0-0 0, Chesnee Miller 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Cox 2 1-3 5, Carlee Snyder 1 2-4 4
TEAM: 21 10-25 58
SOUTH BEND ST. JOE (49) (0-1)
Alexa Langager 2 2-6 6, Eliana Lang 7 5-8 19, Lauren Harrington 1 0-0 2, Kenadie Schrock 4 3-4 11, Peyton Hull 3 1-2 7, Greta Chadwell 0 0-0 0, Aurora Nunez 0 0-0 0, Grace Scicchatano 0 0-0 0, Paige Goben 0 1-2 1, Nicki Byrne 1 1-3 3
TEAM: 18 13-25 49
Three-point field goals:
Valley 6 (Mellott 3, Ault 2, Stiles),
South Bend St. Joe 0
Total fouls: Valley 22, South Bend St. Joe 23
Score by quarters
Valley 19 10 19 10 – 58
SB St. Joe 13 13 16 7 – 49