- Val T.
Moriarty’s late FT, Miller’s steal help Valley secure comeback win over Wawasee
Mellott scores game-high 23 as Lady Vikes reach sectional final
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
NAPPANEE — Kaydence Mellott scored a game-high 23 points, and Molly Moriarty sank the go-ahead free throw with 22.5 seconds left as the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball
team rallied from an 18-point third-quarter deficit to edge Wawasee 42-41 in a Class 3A, Sectional 20 semifinal at NorthWood High School’s Panther Pit Friday.
Chesnee Miller added a crucial steal for Valley, who improved to 17-7 and will play West Noble in the sectional final at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. West Noble stopped Lakeland 61-53 in Friday’s other semifinal.
Kennedy White scored 15 points, and Jada Carter added 13 for Wawasee (11-12).
With the game tied 41-41, Wawasee’s Kennedy White bumped Moriarty as Moriarty tried to keep her balance and avoid an over-and-back call just in front of the 10-second line.
Moriarty, who finished with nine points, made the first free throw but missed the second.
Wawasee advanced the ball to the frontcourt, and coach Matt Carpenter called his final timeout with 16.0 seconds left.
Wawasee’s Becca Smith caught the ball in the post. The instructions for Valley defenders were to force Smith to turn into the lane, where the help defenders would be coming. The help defender in this instance was Miller, coming to help Mercedes Snapp. Smith brought the ball down low. Miller knocked the ball loose for a turnover.
Moriarty recovered and was fouled with 4.1 seconds left. She missed the first free throw and was called for a lane violation on the second attempt.
Wawasee inbounded and White’s 38-footer at the horn bounded off the backboard and rim as time expired, setting off a frenzied Valley celebration at midcourt.
“We were not going to be done,” Mellott said afterwards of the comeback.
Valley had lost 53-45 at home to Wawasee in their regular season meeting on Jan. 25, and they trailed this game 30-12 and 32-14 in the third quarter.
Corinna Stiles, Valley’s leading rebounder and shot blocker, picked up her fourth foul with 4:36 left in the third quarter and Valley trailing by 16. Stiles headed to the bench, but Valley came back without her.
“Big time,” Valley coach Chris Kindig said of his team’s ability to adapt with Stiles sitting.
“I thought we got minutes out of a couple of our other bigs too. Macy Petersen played a few minutes and did not hurt us at all and was solid, and Carlee Snyder, she played like a freshman on Tuesday (a 33-30 win over NorthWood in the quarterfinals), and I thought tonight she played much more the way she’s capable of playing, altered some shots got some rebounds, just was really, really good around the basket.”
When Carter hit two free throws with 56 seconds left in the third, Valley still trailed 36-22. The Lady Vikings then went on a 19-0 run covering the third and fourth quarters, holding Wawasee scoreless for 6:49.
A Mellott 3-pointer from the top of the key and a Mellott transition bucket cut the lead to nine going into the fourth quarter.
Miller found Moriarty for a 19-footer to open the scoring in the fourth. Snyder, a freshman who had five blocked shots, scored on a putback. Wawasee called timeout.
Mellott then hit a 17-foot pullup. Then with Wawasee defenders flying at the Valley sharpshooter as part of their switching man-to-man defense, she drove in for a layup to cut the lead to one.
“I was just taking what they were giving,” Mellott said. “If they were going to play up on me, I was going to use that against them and drive them to the basket. And if they were going to stay back, I was going to shoot it.”
Then, Snapp, whose minutes have been limited due to a lower-body injury since the Jan. 18 win over Peru, had a steal in the post and scored on an off-balance hook on the other end.
Valley had their first lead at 37-36 with 4:08 left.
They turned out to be Snapp’s only points, but as it also turned out, Valley never trailed again.
Two Mellott free throws made it 39-36 with 3:26 left.
After another Valley defensive stop, Snapp was fouled but missed the front end of a one-and-one. But Valley got the offensive rebound and when Miller kissed an off-balance runner high off the glass for her first points of the game, Valley led by five.
“I think we got in their head a little bit there in that fourth quarter,” Kindig said. “Just our effort. We turned them over several times, just on pure effort. And our post defense was good. It was just a great, great effort by our team in the second half.”
Said Carpenter: “We weren’t able to make enough shots in the second half. We obviously were hot before and then we went cold, but let’s give Tippy a lot of credit too with their defensive pressure.”
A Smith free throw made it 41-37 with 2:03 left.
White’s two free throws with 47.9 seconds left and a steal and a layup from White tied the game with 31 seconds left.
The game was going down to the wire.
“We won as a team,” Kindig said. “We really did. There were a lot of contributions from a lot of different people. Just proud of them.”
Start time for the Valley-Maconaquah boys game was moved to 5 p.m. Saturday at Maconaquah and will be varsity only. The move was made to accommodate Valley fans who might want to attend both the boys and girls games. Maconaquah is hosting a wrestling regional at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Valley defeated West Noble 45-27 at the West Noble tournament on Dec. 30. Junior guard Mackensy Mabie, who scored 16 points for West Noble against Lakeland Friday, did not play in that previous matchup. Senior post player Jazmyn Smith scored 19 against West Noble after being out two weeks with a knee injury. Smith scored eight points in the first meeting against Valley.
The West Noble-Valley winner will meet the River Forest-Griffith winner in a regional semifinal at Jimtown on Feb. 12.
Valley’s 25 free throw attempts were their second-most in a game this season. They made 2 of 10 in the first half and 9 of 15 in the second half.
Tippecanoe Valley 42, Wawasee 41
WAWASEE (41) (11-12)
Kennedy White 4 6-6 15, Jada Carter 4 2-2 13, Emily Haines 0 2-2 2, Lindsay Doss 1 0-0 2, Becca Smith 3 1-2 7, Lucy Wilkinson 0 0-0 0, Kaydence Shepherd 0 0-0 0, Olivia Horn 1 0-0 2
TEAM: 13 11-12 41
VALLEY (42) (17-7)
Lily Ault 0 0-0 0, Kaydence Mellott 6 8-10 23, Molly Moriarty 3 3-7 9, Corinna Stiles 2 0-4 4, Mercedes Snapp 1 0-1 2, Macy Petersen 0 0-0 0, Chesnee Miller 1 0-3 2, Carlee Snyder 1 0-0 2
TEAM: 14 11-25 42
Three-point field goals:
Wawasee 4 (Carter 3, White),
Valley 3 (Mellott 3)
Total fouls: Wawasee 19, Valley 16
Fouled out: Carter (WAW), 2:59, fourth
Turnovers: Wawasee 18, Valley 18
Score by quarters
Wawasee 15 13 8 5 – 41
Valley 6 6 15 15 – 42