Tippecanoe Valley boys basketball preview: Vikes seek improvement while paying tribute to Stump
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Six months after the death of point guard Brendyn Stump in a car accident, a grieving Tippecanoe Valley boys basketball team will begin another basketball season at Oregon-Davis Saturday.
Valley coach Chad Patrick said nobody will wear No. 4 again. That was Stump’s number, which will be retired before the home opener against Knox on Dec. 3.
They will only keep 11 players on the varsity roster. An empty seat on the bench will be left for Stump. The players’ shooting shirts will have Stump’s logo on it and his name and number on the back.
Processing and dealing with the tragedy is nothing to which the players or coaches are accustomed. Patrick described the first few nights of summer basketball as “rough.”
It’s the second tragedy the Patrick family has had to deal with in the last six years. Scott Smith, whom he described as his best friend, died in a plane crash along with his father, former Valley football coach Charlie Smith, former Valley football coach Scott Bibler and race car driver Tony Elliott on Oct. 2, 2015.
“It hit me hard,” Patrick said. “I lost my best friend in a plane crash, Scott and Charlie, and this hit me harder. So I don’t know how a 15, 16, 17-year-old heals from that. I don’t know if they do. I can’t help them because I don’t understand it. What we’ve done is just talk about it openly. We told them we’re playing for ourselves because we all love the game. We’re playing for our family and our community because that’s why we’re here.
“But we’re playing for B. We want to win every game, and we want to be able to talk about that kid as much as we can and honor him.”
A roster consisting of four seniors, five juniors and two sophomores will try to honor Stump\s memory and improve on last year’s 7-16 record.
The leading returning scorer is 6-7 senior center Dawson Perkins. A gifted athlete – he finished seventh in the state in the high jump – Perkins continues to refine his game. He’s also a proficient shot blocker.
“This is only his fourth year of playing organized basketball, so he’s still learning the game,” Patrick said. “He’s gotten better. He’s showing signs of knocking down his jump shots. He can square up and attack the basket now. He’s learned a lot along the way, but most of these guys have been playing since third and fourth grade, and he didn’t start until his eighth grade year and broke his ankle the first game and didn’t get to play the whole year.”
Nolan Cumberland is a 6-3 junior who can score from the perimeter and also score off the dribble.
“He’s worked very hard in the offseason, probably one of the hardest working players I’ve coached,” Cumberland said. “And he’s developed a jump shot. He’s gotten a lot stronger. And so he just has to become that team leader. He’s going to have to help handle the ball at times, and he’s going to have to guard a really good player on the other team, which I think he’s fully capable of.”
Braden Shepherd and Landon Walters are two seniors who will help with the ballhandling as Valley has also had to replace Paul Leasure, an all-Three Rivers Conference guard who transferred to Rochester.
“He doesn’t do anything flashy, but he doesn’t make mistakes,” Patrick said of Walters.
Juniors Cooper Walls and Tayde Kiser will also figure in the backcourt mix. Kiser attended Valley as a freshman and Warsaw as a sophomore before moving back this year, and Patrick complimented him on how he takes pride in his defense.
Dylan Neese and Dom Welk are juniors who will be role players, according to Patrick.
Riley Shepherd, a 6-4 sophomore, could be one of the team’s best shooters and is also a long-armed defender.
Kyler Johnson, a 6-6 sophomore, provides more size in the paint.
Patrick also said he hopes for improved defense. Valley allowed just 42.1 points per game over an eight-game stretch late in the 2018-19 season. They went 7-1 in those eight games, including a win over Wawasee in the sectional final.
Since the start of the 2019-20 season, they have allowed 54 points per game. They are 16-30 over that stretch. Patrick thinks they have greater length and depth that could allow this team to be better defensively.
Patrick said this year’s team has “no issues” and will be a “true team.” Combined with a normal offseason, they hope that leads to more wins.
“We got to have a normal summer,” Patrick said. “We got to have normal open gyms in the fall. We got to do a lot of normal things again. So we are leaps and ahead of last year in my opinion.”
Tippecanoe Valley Vikings schedule
Nov. 27 – at Oregon-Davis, 7:45 p.m. (varsity only)
Nov. 30 – at Argos, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 – vs. Knox, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 11 – vs. John Glenn, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 – vs. Peru, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 17 – at Whitko, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 – at Culver, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 30 – at Columbia City, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4 – vs. LaVille, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 7 – at Northfield, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 8 – vs. Plymouth, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 14 – vs. Rochester, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 21 – at Southwood, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 28 – vs. Manchester, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 29 – at Mishawaka Marian, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 – at Wabash, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 5 – at Maconaquah, TBD
Feb. 11 – vs. North Miami, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 15 – vs. NorthWood, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 18 – vs. Triton, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 22 – vs. Warsaw, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 25 – at Wawasee, 7:30 p.m.
March 1-5 – Class 3A, Sectional 21 at Wawasee
The Tippecanoe Valley boys basketball team will open its season with a road game against Oregon-Davis at 7:45 p.m. Saturday. Front, from left – Cooper Walls, manager Gavin Grossman, manager Allee Snyder, manager Christian Garcia, Landon Walters. Middle – Damion Kohler, Dylan Neese, Dominick Welk, Nolan Cumberland, Tayde Kiser, Braden Shepherd. Back – assistant coach Nick Kindig, JV coach B.J. Walls, Kyler Johnson, Dawson Perkins, Riley Shepherd, coach Chad Patrick, assistant coach Bill Patrick.