Valley girls basketball preview: Without Wagner, Lady Vikes might feature more balanced scoring
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Sidney Wagner led the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals last year.
She averaged 19 points per game, and she scored her 1,000th career point in what turned out to be her final game, an overtime loss to NorthWood in the Class 3A, Sectional 20 semifinals. She now plays at Trine University.
Valley coach Chris Kindig doesn’t envision any one player doing for this year’s team what Wagner did for last year’s team.
“I think really, you know, ballhandling and your guard play is probably the most important thing you can have on a team,” Kindig said. “So obviously, we’re concerned about that. Right now, we’re just going to be more by committee, I think, and we’ve got three or four girls that will fill that role for us.”
Junior Molly Moriarty and sophomore Chesnee Miller got spare varsity minutes last year but might be expected to contribute more this year.
“Molly’s tough,” Kindig said. “She’s a good player. She likes to play a little bit more of a physical game. She’s obviously not real big in stature, but she’s very strong. And I think she’s had a great attitude in this offseason of taking a lot more leadership and holding that point guard position for us. Again defensively, she’s not real big, but I think she’s going to be tough.”
They figure to support leading returning scorer Kaydence Mellott and fellow junior sharpshooter Lily Ault, who might also help with the ballhandling.
“We’re going to be a perimeter-oriented team,” Kindig said. “And sometimes we’re going to live by that outside shot, and sometimes we’re going to die by that too. On nights we shoot the ball, we’re going to be tough to beat. But the nights we don’t, it could be pretty ugly. We just have to be consistent.”
The team will have only one senior in forward Mercedes Snapp. Corinna Stiles is a junior forward who can help in the paint but who is also versatile, according to Kindig.
Snapp and Stiles might both have to increase their production after the graduation of senior honorable mention all-TRC player Hayley Backus.
Stiles can step out and shoot the midrange jump shot and is also a capable ballhandler.
Rebounds might be especially important from Snapp and Stiles.
“Based upon our size, we’re really going to have to be tough and determined,” Kindig said. “And that’s obviously a concern going into the season. We’ve worked on rebounding concepts and things like that but maybe a little bit more so than normal just because of our lack of size. It’s not our lack of athleticism, but it’s more a lack of size. … It’s an ongoing issue with us that we’re going to continue to work on it.”
Ava Smith is a promising sophomore who might be the team’s best athlete, according to Kindig.
Defensively, Kindig hopes that Valley can be able to play more man-to-man this year and less zone.
“Ava Smith, I think, is probably our most athletic player right now as a sophomore,” Kindig said. “Lots and loads of potential. She’s probably our best on-the-ball defender right now. She just needs to gain a little bit of confidence in her outside shooting. She’s got a super fast, quick first step. She can really go strong to the basket, but she needs to obviously develop some more consistency in her outside shooting, but she’s one of those that I think by the time January rolls around is going to really be a major contributor for us.”
Defensively, Kindig said he expects to play more man-to-man defense and less zone, adding that an aggressive man-to-man defense is a rarity in high school basketball.
Valley’s schedule includes nine home games and 13 games away from home. That includes a six-game road trip to Oregon-Davis, Plymouth, Wabash, Triton, North Miami and Winamac from Nov. 27-Dec. 16.
“I think it’s going to take us a little while to gel and develop, but I think we can be a pretty good team by the time January or so hits,” Kindig said.
TIPPECANOE VALLEY LADY VIKINGS SCHEDULE (JV/VARSITY)
Nov. 4 – vs. Bremen, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Nov. 9 – at Culver Academy, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Nov. 12 – vs. Warsaw, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Nov. 13 – vs. Northwestern, 6 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Nov. 16 – vs. Logansport, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Nov. 23 – vs. Maconaquah, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Nov. 27 – at Oregon-Davis, 6:15 p.m. (varsity only)
Dec. 2 – at Plymouth, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Dec. 4 – at Wabash, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Dec. 8 – at Triton, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Dec. 10 – at North Miami, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Dec. 16 – at Winamac, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Dec. 18 – vs. Whitko, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Dec. 30 – at West Noble tournament
Jan. 6 – vs. Northfield, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Jan. 11 – at NorthWood, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Jan. 15 – at Rochester, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Jan. 18 – at Peru, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Jan. 22 – vs. Southwood, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Jan. 25 – vs. Wawasee, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Jan. 27 – at Manchester, 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m.
Feb. 1-5 – Class 3A, Sectional 20 at NorthWood
CLASS 3A, SECTIONAL 20
Lakeland, NorthWood, Valley, Wawasee, West Noble