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  • Val T.

Mellott, Stiles lead Valley to TRC title

Win coupled with Northfield loss gives Lady Vikes 6th conference crown in Kindig era


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

NORTH MANCHESTER — Tippecanoe Valley assistant girls basketball coach Thadd Mellott revealed a secret with 21 seconds left in their team’s game against host Manchester Thursday night that perked the ears of the players.

Northfield had lost to Rochester 46-38 earlier Thursday. Suddenly, Valley wasn’t playing for a share of the Three Rivers Conference title; they were playing for the outright TRC title.

“It ends right here,” junior guard Kaydence Mellott said. “We got this.”

And moments later, they celebrated in the middle of the Manchester floor after a long series of adversities they had overcome to win a conference title that might have seemed unlikely.

Kaydence Mellott scored 16 points, and Corinna Stiles added 13 points and 16 rebounds to lead Valley to a 41-32 win.

Valley finished the regular season 15-7 overall and 8-1 in the TRC.

Northfield and Maconaquah finished in a tie for second at 7-2. Rochester was fourth at 6-3.

The conference title was Valley’s sixth in 12 years under coach Chris Kindig. Valley also won or shared the conference in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

“I’m really proud of them from where they’ve come,” Kindig said.

Ainsley West scored 16 points for Manchester (3-19, 3-6). In the third quarter, she outscored the entire Valley team 9-7. But in the fourth quarter, Valley held her scoreless.

“It was just keeping our heads into the game,” junior point guard Molly Moriarty said. “Honestly, it was our defense. Our defense is what won the game.”

As a team, Manchester was held to four points in the fourth quarter.

“I said before the game we’re not going to win this thing offensively,” Kindig said. “I said I think how we’re going to win this game is defensively.”

Valley has not lost a road game to Manchester since 2012. They have won nine of their last 10 meetings with the Lady Squires.

Kaydence Mellott scored five of Valley’s seven points in the third quarter as they maintained a 30-28 lead. She got a bucket and also hit two free throws with 1:13 left.

Kaydence Mellott suffered a foot injury in the Rochester game in January 2021. The injury required surgery and kept her off the court all summer.

Mellott’s injury is now old news. She averages 18 points per game and is fourth in the state with 69 3-pointers. She still produces even though Manchester was face-guarding her.

“It feels awesome,” Kaydence Mellott said. “We’ve worked so hard for this, and I’m so glad that we got to accomplish it and just come out here and play and show what we can do. … I had to find ways to get open. And they’re bigger than us too, so we had to find our way under the basket to just get shots and get in there.”

With Mellott needing time to find her rhythm and with Valley trying to adapt without all-TRC point guard Sidney Wagner as well as Hayley Backus and Ashley Butler, Valley then started 0-4 with losses to Bremen, Culver Academy, Warsaw and Northwestern.

Moriarty said she thought a turning point was a win at North Miami on Dec. 10. Valley trailed 21-14 at halftime but came all the way back to win 47-30. She said the players learned their roles in that game.

“Not at the beginning of the year at all,” Moriarty said when asked if she thought if this was possible. “But we came together all really nicely as a team, and we all worked together and complemented each other.”

Then they won 10 of 11. Then they lost to Northfield at home on Jan. 6 and surrendered sole possession of the conference lead.

Then they rattled off three more road wins, including late wins at Rochester and Peru to keep their share of the conference lead.

“I don’t ever remember winning the conference starting 0-4,” Kindig said. “But these girls worked hard all year, and we’re very deserving of winning this conference. We kind of let things slip a little against Northfield at home, and that put us in a tough position to rely on somebody else to win a game for us to win it outright.”

Senior Mercedes Snapp, who scored a career-high 13 points in the win at Rochester, suffered a lower-body injury against Peru on Jan. 18 and has not played since.

Freshman Carlee Snyder, who had been playing JV all year, stepped in and grabbed 16 rebounds to tie Stiles for team-high honors.

“I really felt like she needed help on the boards, especially these last few games,” Kindig said of Stiles. “And so Carlee really came through there from that standpoint.”

Valley 41, Manchester 32 (Thursday)

VALLEY (41) (15-7, 8-1)

Lily Ault 0 1-2 1, Kaydence Mellott 6 3-4 16, Molly Moriarty 2 2-2 7, Carlee Snyder 1 1-4 3, Corinna Stiles 4 5-7 13, Chesnee Miller 0 1-2 1

TEAM: 13 13-21 41

MANCHESTER (32) (3-19, 3-6)

Aliala Atienza 0 0-0 0, Brookelynn Buzzard 2 0-0 6, Keilan Creager 0 0-0 0, Ainsley West 5 4-5 16, Makenzy Meyer 3 0-0 6, Molly Schanepp 0 0-0 0, Gracie Lauer 2 0-0 4, Olivia Neal 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 12 4-5 32

Three-point field goals:

Valley 2 (Mellott, Moriarty),

Manchester 4 (Buzzard 2, West 2)

Total fouls: Valley 11, Manchester 17

Score by quarters

Valley 10 13 7 11 – 41

Manchester 7 10 11 4 – 32


Wawasee 53, Valley 45 (Tuesday)

WAWASEE (53) (11-11)

White 2 4-5 8, Shepherd 2 1-2 6, Carter 2 2-4 8, Horn 4 2-3 10, Smith 2 2-2 7, Haines 2 3-6 8, Doss 1 4-8 6

TEAM: 15 18-30 53

VALLEY (45) (14-7)

Lily Ault 0 2-2 2, Kaydence Mellott 7 3-3 18, Molly Moriarty 3 1-2 7, Corinna Stiles 2 2-5 6, Carlee Snyder 1 0-2 2, Ava Smith 2 0-0 4, Macy Petersen 1 0-0 2, Chesnee Miller 2 0-2 4, DeLaney Siders 0 0-0 0, Patricia Jimenez 0 0-0 0

TEAM: 18 8-16 45

Three-point field goals:

Wawasee 5 (Carter 2, Shepherd, Smith, Haines),

Valley 1 (Mellott)

Total fouls: Wawasee 15, Valley 23

Fouled out: Moriarty (TV)

Score by quarters

Wawasee 12 12 17 12 – 53

Valley 5 16 4 20 – 45


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