Valley’s defense stops Wabash, leads to first TRC win
Cumberland’s 13, Leasure’s 12, strong defense mark Viking win
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON –- The Tippecanoe Valley boys basketball team was leading Wabash 49-44 in the final 30 seconds of their game with visiting Wabash at Rita Price Simpson Court Thursday when Valley junior center Dawson Perkins blocked a Wabash player’s shot over to the far sidelines.
Perkins’ teammate Rex Kirchenstien furiously ran towards the sideline to save the ball from going out of bounds. Except he saved it right back to Wabash’s Joe Leland right underneath the basket.
Except Leland missed a wide open layup.
From excitement to fear to relief all in the amount of time it takes to breathe, Valley fans went through an emotional rollercoaster before they could finally enjoy a Three Rivers Conference victory.
Brendyn Stump then made two free throws with 9.4 seconds left to complete the scoring and Valley hung for a 51-44 win over the Apaches to improve to 4-11 overall and 1-6 in the TRC.
Wabash, the defending conference champions, fell to 4-11, 1-5.
Nolan Cumberland led Valley with 13 points, and Paul Leasure added 12. Perkins had eight points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Stump went five for six from the foul line in the fourth quarter and had seven.
The 44 points allowed were the fewest Valley has allowed in a TRC game since a 65-32 win over Northfield on Jan. 10, 2020, which was 13 conference games ago.
“I was afraid we weren’t going be able to play them man because they drive so well and they shoot so well, and we were going to go zone, but I wanted to try that pressure -- our diamond press -- and it’s not great but it slowed them down, and that’s what we had to do,” Valley coach Chad Patrick said. “I just wanted to relax our guys. We had a lot of energy, but we almost came out with too much energy. We overplayed a couple defensive possessions, and we missed a couple shots. Once they calmed down and started playing that pressing defense, we relaxed and outscored them 19-9 the rest of the way in that half.”
Bryant Boggs led Wabash with 11 points. Dave Ford had a team-high 10 rebounds to go with his seven points.
Valley trailed 13-4 when Patrick called timeout with 2:57 left in the first quarter but responded with a 12-0 run that bled into the second quarter to take a 16-13 lead.
“He was just pulling us out of the game to calm us down because once we get going too fast, we let things slip up and make little mistakes, and so he was just fixing that for us,” Perkins said.
There would be five lead changes in the second quarter, but Rex Kirchenstien would make two free throws with 1:07 left in the half to giver Valley a 23-22 lead, and they never trailed again.
Chase Miller hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the second half to open a four-point lead, and the lead got to 33-26 after a Perkins 3-point play after a putback and a dazzling coast-to-coast finish in the lane from Cumberland.
“I just kind of ran around my guy real quick and grabbed the ball and laid it in pretty fast because I knew he was going to come up right behind me,” Perkins said.
Wabash got back within 36-33 after freshman Trevor Daughtry scored twice on penetrations to the basket.
But freshman Izaak Wright was called for a technical foul with 28.2 seconds left in the third quarter, and Cumberland hit two technical free throws to kick start an 8-2 run that also covered the first two-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter.
Valley would push the lead to as much as 44-35 with 5:35 left after a Kirchenstien backcourt steal and layup.
Kirchenstien and Miller combined for 11 points, and Patrick also credited Braden Shepherd for strong defense off the bench, even though he didn’t score.
“The one at the beginning of the third quarter was huge,” Patrick said of Miller’s trey. “He gave us more good minutes. He doesn’t do anything flashy, but he doesn’t make mistakes. So he’s going to keep getting minutes.”
Two Ford free throws, two Boggs free throws and a Leland 3-pointer would get the Apaches within 46-42.
Stump split a pair from the line with 58.6 seconds left, but Jasper Walter knocked down a 17-footer off the dribble to make it 47-44 with 45.8 seconds left.
Wabash called timeout to set up a press, but Valley broke it, and Cumberland’s layup got the lead back to five.
“I thought our scoring was well-balanced,” Patrick said. “We’re starting to figure it out and starting to play better together and starting to not care who scores. We’re starting to play team defense, so it’s starting to get exciting.”
Ford, Keegan O’Neill and Wright all made treys in the first quarter as Wabash built a nine-point lead. Still, coach Paul Wright expected a Valley comeback.
“We were shooting the ball well in the first quarter, and they missed some wide open looks,” coach Wright said. “Would we have liked to hang onto the lead? Yes. But was I shocked that we lost? No. Because they’re a good team. They shoot the ball well. I don’t care what their record says. They have really good shooters, and they started hitting shots. We turned it over a few times in there, and we shot only 35 percent for the game.
“We shot the ball well in the first quarter, but after the first quarter, we couldn’t throw it in the ocean.”
Wabash won the JV game 56-39.
Valley junior D.J. Estep and sophomore Dominick Welk both missed the game due to coronavirus-related quarantines.
Wabash has never beaten Valley on the road since joining the TRC in the 2006-07 school year. Valley is 13-2 overall against Wabash in conference play.
Valley 51, Wabash 44
WABASH (44) (4-11, 1-5)
Bryant Boggs 4 2-2 11, Jasper Walter 3 2-2 8, Joseph Leland 2 0-0 5, Keegan O’Neill 1 0-0 3, Dave Ford 2 2-3 7, Trevor Daughtry 3 0-0 7, Andrew Dinkins 0 0-0 0, Kolton Wilson 0 0-0 0, Izaak Wright 1 0-0 3, Colten Learned 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 16 6-7 44
VALLEY (51) (4-11, 1-6)
Brendyn Stump 1 5-6 7, Paul Leasure 5 1-2 12, Nolan Cumberland 5 2-3 13, Chase Miller 2 0-0 5, Dawson Perkins 3 2-3 8, Braden Shepherd 0 0-0 0, Rex Kirchenstien 2 2-2 6
TEAM: 18 12-16 51
Three-point field goals:
Wabash 6 (Boggs, Daughtry, Ford, Wright, O’Neill, Leland),
Valley 3 (Cumberland, Leasure, Miller)
Total fouls: Wabash 16, Valley 14
Technical foul: Wright (WAB), :28.2, fourth
Turnovers: Wabash 8, Valley 8
Score by quarters
Wabash 13 9 11 11 – 44
Valley 10 13 15 13 – 51
JV: Wabash 56, Valley 39
Chase Miller (Left) and Rex Kirchenstien (Right)