Northfield hands Valley first TRC loss, beats Lady Vikes for 5th straight year
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON — The Tippecanoe Valley and Northfield basketball teams play annually during the first week in January, and it’s beginning to seem as if beating Valley is Northfield’s annual New Year’s resolution.
Addy Rosen scored 16 points, and Emily Pennington added 15 points and 10 rebounds
as the Lady Norse came into the TVHS gym and earned a wire-to-wire 51-39 win Thursday.
Kaydence Mellott scored 20 points for Valley, whose seven-game winning streak was snapped but whose struggles against Northfield were not.
Over the last five seasons, Valley is 0-5 against Northfield and 32-4 in all other Three Rivers Conference games.
Valley was the last remaining unbeaten team in the TRC play prior to Thursday. They fell to 10-6 overall and 4-1 in the league.
Northfield is 9-7, 5-1. Peru also has one conference loss, which was to Northfield. Valley still has to travel to Peru on Jan. 18.
Rochester, North Miami and Maconaquah have two TRC losses each and remain within sniffing distance of the lead.
Valley cut what had been an 11-point deficit down to 42-37 on a Mellott 3-pointer from the right corner.
But Rosen split a pair of free throws, and Elli Baker found Pennington for a layup, and Ainsley Dale drilled the dagger 3-pointer off a Pennington assist with 2:40 left to get the lead back to double digits.
Northfield’s 12-point margin of victory represented their largest lead.
“I look at our shooting percentage, and I think we were around 25 percent or so roughly, and I think they were double that. They were 50-plus (percent),” Valley coach Chris Kindig said. “That’s a bad formula. But they hit some big shots. They hit some critical shots when they needed to. I think we were making a little bit of a surge during that fourth quarter, getting things going and turning them over as little bit and then they’d hit a big shot or we’d have a lapse defensively, but when you get yourself in a position where you’re six or eight points down in the fourth quarter and you’re scrambling, you’re going to give up a few easy baskets here or there.”
Northfield committed 10 first-half turnovers while Valley had just five. But the Lady Norse, a three-time defending sectional champ and a defending regional champ in Class 1A, still led 26-20 after shooting 90 percent from the floor in the second quarter.
Pennington, who averages 8 points per game, scored eight in the second quarter on flawless shooting. Rosen and freshman reserve Elli Baker also hit a pair of jumpers in the second quarter.
Northfield does not list player heights on their roster. Pennington, who would appear to be approximately 6-0, got the defensive assignment on the 5-6 Mellott.
It’s not uncommon for the long-armed Pennington to guard the opponent’s top 3-point shooter, according to Northfield first-year coach Brandon Baker. Baker thought Pennington disrupted Mellott’s ability to get open perimeter looks.
Meanwhile, Holmes stuck to Corinna Stiles defensively.
“I thought we played our tails off,” Baker said. “I think that is the hardest we have played all year. I said, ‘If you’re not tired, something’s wrong with you. You ought to be tired.’”
Valley would get as close as 28-23 courtesy of two Mellott free throws with 6:52 left in the third quarter, but Rosen downed a 3-pointer and Hannah Holmes scored on a tough post-up to get the lead to double digits.
Valley would get back within 35-29 on a Mellott slice cut for a layup and a Mercedes Snapp bucket.
Snapp was fouled but missed the ensuing free throw, and Dale swished a 3-pointer and Baker hit from the left baseline to give Northfield a 40-29 lead after three quarters.
Valley switched from its zone pressure packages to a man-to-man with reserves Chesnee Miller and Ava Smith both on the floor to start the fourth quarter.
That helped them start the fourth quarter on an 8-2 run.
“I would say it was good in the fourth quarter,” Kindig said when asked to describe his team’s effort level. “But at that point, we were down eight or 10 points, and we were scrambling. So you’ve got to play four quarters of basketball. You can’t play half a quarter or a quarter or whatever that is. During the streak, we had outplayed people that way. We played harder, turned them over a bunch and created a lot of easy baskets for ourselves. We were unable to do that tonight.”
Valley won the JV game 20-9. The game was shortened to two quarters due to Northfield’s lack of numbers.
Valley girls basketball notes
Valley held its senior night ceremony prior to the game. Snapp and manager Ava Rich were recognized.
Snapp had seven points and five rebounds. Stiles had six points and seven rebounds.
Valley’s next three games are on the road – at NorthWood, at Rochester and at Peru.
Northfield 51, Valley 39
NORTHFIELD (51) (9-7, 5-1)
Addy Rosen 6 1-3 16, Ainsley Dale 2 0-0 6, Eden Hoover 0 0-0 0, Hannah Holmes 4 0-0 8, Emily Pennington 6 3-4 15, Elli Baker 3 0-0 6
TEAM: 21 4-7 51
VALLEY (39) (10-6, 4-1)
Lily Ault 0 0-0 0, Molly Moriarty 1 0-1 2, Kaydence Mellott 6 5-8 20, Corinna Stiles 2 2-3 6, Mercedes Snapp 3 1-3 7, Ava Smith 0 2-2 2, Chesnee Miller 1 0-0 2
TEAM: 13 10-17 39
Three-point field goals:
Northfield 5 (Rosen 3, Dale 2),
Valley 3 (Mellott 3)
Total fouls: Northfield 14, Valley 13
Turnovers: Northfield 22, Valley 11
Score by quarters
Northfield 8 18 14 11 – 51
Valley 7 13 9 10 – 39
JV: Valley 20, Northfield 9