Valley loses to Northwestern, loses Backus to knee injury
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
KOKOMO –- Sidney Wagner hit three 3-pointers and scored a team-high 15 points, and Kaydence Mellott tallied 10, but the Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team fell to host Northwestern 54-38 Saturday.
For the Lady Vikings, there might be a more significant loss than just the loss of a game. Senior post player Hayley Backus left with 2:19 to go in the first quarter with a right knee injury and did not return.
Valley coach Chris Kindig later told RTC that she will undergo an MRI on the knee and that she will miss at least this week’s games against Class 2A, No. 6 South Central Tuesday and Class 4A, No. 11 Fort Wayne South Side Saturday.
Valley (1-1) was already playing without sophomore Corinna Stiles, their next most experienced frontcourt player, who was cited in contact tracing and under quarantine.
McKenna Layden scored eight of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter for Northwestern (4-0). Ellie Boyer and Leah Carter added 16 each.
Already leading 36-34 after three quarters, Northwestern closed the game on an 18-4 run.
“I really felt like we had some momentum,” Kindig said. “We were knocking down some shots. Really, I almost felt like we had the opportunity to be ahead in the third quarter. We had some looks that (were) in-and-outs or whatever. Defensively, we were playing really well.
“That’s a really good Northwestern team. There’s no doubt about it.”
Layden hit Boyer with a pinpoint pass off a backdoor cut to make it 38-34 and drilled a 3-pointer.
Mellott scored for Valley off an Ashley Butler assist on a delayed break, but Layden knocked down another 3-pointer, and Carter drained four straight free throws to get the lead back to 12, and it never dipped below double figures after that.
“Honestly, the game was about what I expected,” Northwestern coach Kathie Layden said. “I knew coming in they were going to be a really tough team for us to play. I thought we just really controlled the fourth quarter offensively. … We tried to bring them out of some defenses, and then ultimately, I thought McKenna took over in the fourth quarter.”
Northwestern led by six at halftime. Carter, a 6-0 junior post player, then scored the first eight points of the second half to expand the lead to 31-17.
Valley responded by hitting five 3-pointers in less than five minutes and outsourcing the Lady Tigers, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, 17-5 the rest of the quarter.
Wagner hit all three of her treys during this span, including one on a banker and another on a third chance after an offensive rebound. Mellott mixed in a trey from the right corner as the margin narrowed to 34-29.
Boyer sank a long 2-pointer with her foot on the line, but Lily Ault answered for Valley, first with a 19-footer with her foot on the line and then a trey with eight seconds left in the quarter after Carter missed a pair from the line for Northwestern.
Northwestern scored the first five points of the game and never trailed. Rily Holloway and Wagner scored six points each in the first half as Valley stuck within 23-17 at halftime.
Holloway, Ault and Mellott are all sophomores and all capable shooters from distance, according to Kindig.
“These girls are capable of really knocking down shots all the time,” Kindig said. “But I was proud of them. We hung in there.”
Both teams exhibited their versions of a 2-3 zone. Northwestern’s zone was more of a matchup zone with the long-limbed Layden, who is listed at 6-1, jumping on the Valley ballhandler when she crossed halfcourt. They also played some 1-3-1 zone.
Valley’s zone was more conventional until Northwestern’s four corners offense in the fourth quarter forced Valley to abandon the zone.
“Obviously things got away from us a little bit there in the fourth quarter,” Kindig said. “We had to go to man a little bit, and they were holding the ball a little bit more. But they’re a tough matchup for anybody. Kudos to them, they’re a good team, no doubt about it.”
The JV game was canceled.
Valley-Maconaquah game moved to Jan. 14
Valley’s Three Rivers Conference game at Maconaquah has been moved from Nov. 24 to Jan. 14. Game time is 6:15 p.m./7:45 p.m. (JV/Varsity) at Maconaquah.
Maconaquah has canceled all sports through the end of November.
Northwestern 54, Valley 38
VALLEY (38) (1-1)
Sidney Wagner 6 0-0 15, Lily Ault 2 0-0 5, Kaydence Mellott 4 1-3 10, Ashley Butler 0 2-2 2, Hayley Backus 0 0-0 0, Rily Holloway 2 0-0 6
TEAM: 14 3-5 38
NORTHWESTERN (54) (4-0)
Ashley Newell 1 0-0 3, Ellie Boyer 8 0-0 16, McKenna Layden 8 0-0 19, Megan York 0 0-0 0, Leah Carter 6 4-9 16, Joan Easter 0 0-0 0, Lexi Hale 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 23 4-9 54
Three-point field goals:
Valley 7 (Wagner 3, Holloway 2, Mellott, Ault),
Northwestern 4 (Layden 3, Newell)
Total fouls: Valley 11, Northwestern 5
Turnovers: Valley 17, Northwestern 11
Score by quarters
Valley 7 10 17 4 – 38
Northwestern 13 10 13 18 – 54