- Val T.
Shepherd hits 7 treys, helps Valley beat Grindle’s Pilgrims
Cumberland adds 16; Perkins adds 8 in return to lineup
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON — The town of Clunette is located just outside Leesburg. It has a grain elevator and a church. And that’s about it.
After Saturday night, it might also have to be known as Riley Shepherd’s hometown.
The 6-4 sophomore sharpshooter from Clunette knocked down seven 3-pointers and scored a game and career-high 23 points to lead the Tippecanoe Valley boys basketball team to a 61-48 win over Plymouth at Rita Price Simpson Court.
“I didn’t realize he was 7 for 9 until (assistant coach) Nick (Kindig) told me after the game,” Valley coach Chad Patrick said. “That was a quiet 7 for 9. A couple of them were really big in the fourth quarter there that he hit. He’s just a pure shooter. He can light it up at times. We’ve seen it in practice. He does it all the time.”
Nolan Cumberland added 16 for Valley, who improved to 6-4.
Easton Strain scored 18 points, and Davis Wray added 12 for Plymouth, who lost to Valley for the third straight year and fell to 3-9.
The game marked the return to Valley for Plymouth coach Joel Grindle, who spent the previous two years as the assistant principal at Valley. Grindle received a nice ovation from the Valley student section during pregame introductions.
“If you go back and look at this, we talk about trying to set the tone, but we let Valley get comfortable,” Grindle said. “They made plays, and defensively, we didn’t come out with the effort and energy, and we didn’t match their intensity with what they were looking to do. They broke us down and ended up with a corner 3, and they shot the ball really, really well. And that translated when guys get comfortable at the beginning of a game, it’s really tough to bring it back.”
Valley scored the first eight points and never trailed. They went on another 10-0 run in the first quarter to get the lead to 21-6, and Plymouth never got closer than nine after that. The Vikings led by as many as 18 in the second half.
Dawson Perkins, Valley’s 6-7 senior center, returned from a five-game suspension and turned a putback into a 3-point play 25 seconds into the game. A Shepherd 3-pointer and a pullup right baseline 10-footer from Cumberland made it 8-0.
Perkins later had a dunk, Cumberland hit two 3s, and Landon Walters hit a 3 as Valley went gangbusters early.
“It creates more scoring for everybody,” Patrick said of the impact of Perkins’ return. “Because teams have to help on Dawson, and they really can’t guard him inside. It’s such a big advantage to have a 6-7 kid like that who can jump and changes the whole game. You know, his attitude was so good during the three, four weeks he was off and couldn’t play. And so I was glad he was back. He had as good an attitude as you can in those four weeks and played hard in practice and really got better. So he had a little bit of rust on him tonight in the game, but I thought he played well, and he definitely makes us a whole lot better.”
Plymouth would get within 26-17 on a pullup in the lane from Strain, Plymouth’s 6-4 junior big man.
But Kiser found Shepherd open in the right corner for 3, and then Kiser hit a 3 himself with one second left in the half to get the lead to 32-17.
Shepherd poured in three more 3-pointers in the third quarter, two from the right corner and one from the left corner as the lead stayed at 46-32.
He had a rare basket on a driving layup when a Plymouth defender flew out at him – Shepherd has 35 3-pointers this season as compared to 12 2-point baskets – before Braden Shepherd found him in the corner for another 3 to make it 57-41.
After the game, Valley assistant coach and Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Patrick informed Riley Shepherd that he went 7 for 9 from 3-point range and then jokingly asked him why he missed two.
“He did say that,” Shepherd said. “I did laugh. I told him, ‘Well, I was off balance.’
Shepherd might come from a small hometown, but there is a basketball legacy in his family, including parents, grandparents and uncles. His parents Joel and Carla played at Warsaw.
He’s lived in Warsaw and Mentone before, but he now lives in Clunette, the town with the grain elevator and the church.
Shepherd’s role is to make 3s when defenses rotate to stop Kiser and Cumberland. He’s made 49 percent from 3-point range on the season.
“It’s fun, but it can be hard sometimes because they’re always counting on you to make that one shot,” Shepherd said.
Valley also won the JV game 38-30. Dylan Neese led Valley with 14 points, Ian Cooksey had nine, Kyler Johnson scored seven, Nate Parker had six, and Trent Marshall had two.
Valley 61, Plymouth 48
PLYMOUTH (48) (3-9)
Trey Hall 2 2-2 8, Davis Wray 4 3-3 12, Easton Strain 8 2-5 18, Tanner Feece 0 0-0 0, Michael Sheely 3 1-2 7, Zane Lark 0 0-0 0, Lennon Creighbaum 0 0-0 0, Coby Walters 0 0-0 0, Kadyn Ellery 0 0-0 0, Connor DeLee 0 0-0 0, Trey Delp 1 0-0 3
TEAM: 18 8-12 48
VALLEY (61) (6-4)
Braden Shepherd 1 0-2 2, Tayde Kiser 3 0-0 8, Riley Shepherd 8 0-0 23, Nolan Cumberland 5 4-6 16, Dawson Perkins 4 1-4 9, Cooper Walls 0 0-0 0, Landon Walters 1 0-0 3, Damion Kohler 0 0-0 0, Dominick Welk 0 0-0 0, Dylan Neese 0 0-0 0, Kyler Johnson 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 22 5-12 61
Three-point field goals:
Plymouth 4 (Hall 2, Delp, Wray),
Valley 12 (R. Shepherd 7, Cumberland 2, Kiser 2, Walters)
Total fouls: Plymouth 16, Valley 12
Turnovers: Plymouth 11, Valley 16
Score by quarters
Plymouth 9 8 15 16 – 48
Valley 21 11 14 15 – 61
JV: Valley 38, Plymouth 30
Watch full game here: