Valley hits 14 3-pointers, routs North Miami on senior night
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON –- The numbers to remember from the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team’s game with North Miami at Rita Price Simpson Court Thursday were 13 and 14.
Thirteen, as in the number of seconds that Hayley Backus played, a significant number to those who appreciate that she has tried to play at all despite a torn ACL.
Fourteen, as in the number of 3-pointers that the Lady Vikings made in a 71-33 rout.
Kaydence Mellott hit five 3-pointers and scored 18 points, and fellow sophomore Rily Holloway also hit five triples and scored 17 off the bench. Sidney Wagner, one of the honored seniors, had 11.
Corinna Stiles had eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds and helped Valley to a 41-26 rebounding advantage.
Taylor Tinney scored 11 points for North Miami (3-14 overall, 2-4 TRC). Ellie Musselman added eight.
Valley improved to 11-7 overall and 5-2 in the Three Rivers Conference. They are two games behind Rochester and Northfield in the loss column with conference games left against Southwood Saturday and Manchester next Thursday.
Valley led wire to wire and grew the advantage up to 44 points at one point in the fourth quarter.
Backus, Valley’s senior post player, tore her right ACL against Northwestern on Nov. 14. She was back for the Whitko game on Dec. 19. She then reinjured the knee against Rochester on Saturday and missed Tuesday’s win over Peru.
She was announced in the starting lineup, and Lily Ault replaced her after the first dead ball with 7:47 left in the first quarter.
She received warm applause and hugs from her teammates as she came off the floor.
“It felt really great,” Backus said. “I wish I would have been able to play a little more, but I’m grateful for what I’ve got.”
Backus, who has not ruled out a return later in the season, made a self-deprecating remark about the early round of applause and the end of her night..
“Normally when I get in foul trouble, it’s usually two or three minutes at least,” Backus said.
The rest of the first quarter was memorable because of how Valley torched the nets. Two days after jumping out to a 25-7 lead after one quarter against Peru, they built a 31-7 lead against the Lady Warriors.
While North Miami scored seven points, Valley was busy hitting seven 3-pointers against North Miami’s 1-3-1 zone.
Mellott hit three treys, Ault hit two from behind the arc, and Ashley Butler and Holloway also dialed in shots from deep.
Holloway hit two 3s in the second quarter. Mellott made a pair of treys in the third quarter. Holloway hit two more 3s, and Ava Smith also hit from long range in the fourth quarter.
“It was a real similar type situation to Tuesday night against Peru,” Valley coach Chris Kindig said. “We had some shots in the corners. … We’re shooting with a little bit more confidence. We got off to a great start tonight.”
Fellow senior Wagner picked up two first-half fouls and spent much of the second quarter sitting next to Backus on the bench.
“Tonight I got two fouls in the first half and I had to go sit for the whole second quarter, and I was sitting with her, and it was not fun,” Wagner said. “Like, just watching. I really felt for her. I couldn’t even imagine. When I go out there, I play for Backus, and I do what I can for her because I can't imagine being in her position.”
Ashley Butler, the team’s third senior, also spoke of Backus’ inspiration.
“We were very motivated, especially since tonight was senior night,” Butler said. “We just wanted to play for her since we know she couldn’t have gotten in. … It was just heartbreaking at first when we know she did it again, and we figured she would be out for the rest of the season. But we’re still playing for her, and I think tonight we showed how we can play, especially the last two games.”
Valley 71, North Miami 33
NORTH MIAMI (33) (3-14, 2-4)
Taylor Tinney 2 7-10 11, Allison Bowman 1 0-0 2, Kaiden Hanley 0 0-0 0, Joey Witmeyer 2 0-0 4, Ellie Musselman 2 4-6 8, Macey Stockdale 0 0-0 0, Emily Smith 1 0-0 2, Alison Smith 0 0-0 0, Molly Freeman 0 6-9 6
TEAM: 8 17-25 33
VALLEY (71) (11-7, 5-2)
Sidney Wagner 5 1-4 11, Kaydence Mellott 5 3-4 18, Ashley Butler 1 3-4 6, Corinna Stiles 2 4-4 8, Hayley Backus 0 0-0 0, Sidney Nelson 0 0-1 0, Chesnee Miller 1 0-1 2, Ava Smith 1 0-0 3, Lily Ault 2 0-0 6, Rily Holloway 6 0-1 17, Molly Moriarty 0 0-0 0, Macy Petersen 0 0-0 0, Mercedes Snapp 0 0-2 0
TEAM: 23 11-21 71
Three-point field goals:
North Miami 0,
Valley 14 (Mellott 5, Holloway 5, Ault 2, Butler, Ava Smith)
Total fouls: North Miami 19, Valley 20
Fouled out: Hanley (NM), :3.8, third; E. Smith (NM), 2:39, fourth
Turnovers: North Miami 29, Valley 19
Score by quarters
North Miami 7 6 6 14 – 33
Valley 31 12 17 11 – 71
Tippecanoe Valley senior Hayley Backus signs an autograph for a fan after Valley’s 71-33 senior night win over North Miami Thursday. Backus, who suffered a torn ACL against Northwestern on Nov. 14, played only 13 seconds against North Miami before being removed to an ovation from the fans and hugs from her teammates.