Northfield seizes on Wagner’s foul trouble, beats Valley for 4th straight year
Wagner, Mellott score 16 each, but Valley suffers first TRC loss
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WABASH –- Sidney Wagner’s foul trouble was too much of a burden to bear for the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team Thursday.
Wagner, Valley’s first-team all-Three Rivers Conference point guard, picked up her third and fourth fouls 57 seconds apart in the third quarter. Valley coach Chris Kindig sat her, and host Northfield responded with a 15-0 run.
What had been an eight-point deficit had turned into a 23-point deficit.
The Lady Norse cruised from there to a 67-48 win that improved their record to 9-5 overall and 3-0 in the TRC. Kyra Kennedy led four Northfield players in double figures with 18 points. Kearston Stout added 16, Addi Baker had 15, and Kenzie Baer had 10.
Northfield beat Valley for the fourth straight year. They led by as many as 25 points in the second half.
Wagner and Kaydence Mellott scored 16 points each to lead Valley (7-6, 2-1), who lost their
third straight game. Lily Ault added nine. Mellott and Ault, both sophomores, combined to make seven 3-pointers.
The game was a matchup of two of last year’s three TRC co-champs.
Valley led by as many as five points in the first half, and they still led 22-19 when Wagner sliced in from the left after a steal for a 3-point play with 4:16 left in the half.
Northfield then outscored Valley 30-4 over the next 10 ½ minutes. That run not only included Wagner getting in foul trouble but also Kindig being assessed with a bench technical foul that led to two Stout free throws 54 seconds into the third quarter.
That came two seconds after Wagner picked up her third foul on a charging call. Wagner picked up her fourth with 6:11 left and Valley trailing 34-26.
“I think the technical foul there right before that and her picking up her fourth foul, an offensive foul where she’s driving to the basket and kinda getting mugged a little bit,” Kindig said. “No doubt about. The thing was once she went out of the game, I think we just panicked a little bit. I think I burned (two) timeouts during that period of time too. But we’ve just got to get better at having other people have to step up and handle the ball in those situations when she’s out of the game.”
Northfield pounced, continuing their run despite Kindig using all of his timeouts before the third quarter was over.
Kennedy hit two free throws, Stout had a steal and a layup, Baker scored on a driving layup, Kennedy scored in transition, and Baker scored coast to coast after a steal.
A Kennedy coast to coast bucket and a Baker 3-pointer made it 49-26.
Northfield coach Melissa Allen said it was her team’s best game of the season.
She said she challenged her team’s defense in preparation for the game. They had to guard Wagner tight, but they couldn’t help off sharpshooters like Mellott and Ault. So whoever had Wagner was on their own.
Allen specifically praised Addy Rosen and Stout. Rosen, a reserve guard, didn’t score, but Allen praised her for her defense afterwards, especially after Kennedy picked up two first-half fouls.
“We just wanted to come out and bring the pressure,” Allen said. “We knew they had a girl who wanted to get to the basket, and they had some girls who could hit some 3s, and we just had to apply pressure to make sure neither one of those could happen.”
Kindig said Valley will have to “run the table” and hope another team beats Northfield if they want to compete for the TRC title. After hosting defending state champ NorthWood Tuesday, they start a stretch of five conference games in 10 days next Thursday.
Despite the loss, Kindig said he appreciated the effort. Hayley Backus played her second game with protection over her right knee, which she injured against Northwestern on Nov. 14.
“I thought our girls played hard,” Kindig said. “We didn’t execute well, but my priority always is did we play as hard or harder than the other teams that we play. I thought that we did. Obviously, we were in the ball game there until that situation.”
Of the 10 Valley players who got playing time, seven were either freshmen or sophomores. Meanwhile, eight of the nine Northfield players who saw time were either juniors or seniors.
“They have a lot of experience on that team,” Kindig said. “They obviously did a good job. And once Wagner went out, they identified that and really stepped up their defense.”
Northfield also took the JV game 39-19. Rily Holloway led Valley with nine.
Northfield 67, Valley 48
VALLEY (48) (7-6, 2-1)
Sidney Wagner 4 8-10 16, Ashley Butler 0 0-0 0, Kaydence Mellott 5 2-3 16, Corinna Stiles 1 0-1 2, Hayley Backus 1 1-2 3, Lily Ault 3 0-0 9, Rily Holloway 0 0-0 0, Molly Moriarty 0 0-0 0, Macy Petersen 0 0-0 0, Chesnee Miller 0 2-2 2
TEAM: 14 13-18 48
NORTHFIELD (67) (9-5, 3-0)
Emma Hoover 3 0-0 8, Kyra Kennedy 7 4-6 18, Kearston Stout 6 4-4 16, Addi Baker 5 2-4 15, Kenzie Baer 4 2-4 10, Addy Rosen 0 0-0 0, Ainsley Dale 0 0-0 0, Jenna Krom 0 0-0 0, Hannah Holmes 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 25 12-18 67
Three-point field goals:
Valley 7 (Mellott 4, Ault 3),
Northfield 5 (Baker 3, Hoover 2)
Total fouls: Valley 17, Northfield 17
Technical foul: Valley bench, 7:06, third
Turnovers: Valley 17, Northfield 13
Score by quarters
Valley 14 11 4 19 – 48
Northfield 12 18 24 13 – 67
JV: Northfield 39, Valley 19