• Val T.

Without Snapp, ‘vanilla’ Valley falls to Wawasee in home finale

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

AKRON — The Tippecanoe Valley girls basketball team lost to Wawasee 53-45 in their home finale at Rita Price Simpson Court Tuesday.

Valley scored the first four points of the second half to take a 25-24 lead, but Wawasee closed the quarter on a 17-0 run to lead 41-25 after three quarters.

Wawasee improved to 11-11. Valley fell to 14-7.

The teams could meet again in a Class 3A, Sectional 20 semifinal on Feb. 4. Valley must first beat sectional host NorthWood on Feb. 1 in order to get another shot at Wawasee.

Both Valley and Wawasee had been 3-0 against other sectional opponents prior to Tuesday.

“We got off to a poor start again, and that’s kind of been our m.o. lately,” Valley coach Chris Kindig said. “That’s all a matter of focus and intensity.”

Valley finished 4-5 at home, but they are 10-2 away from home, and their regular season finale against Manchester Thursday is on the road.

“We haven’t really had that spark at home either,” Kindig said. “We’ve played better on the road this year than we have at home. But still that comes back to I think we were down 7-0 tonight. Against Southwood last week (a 52-50 Valley win), I think we were down 10-0 or 11-0. … We’re going to have an early exit in the sectional if we continue to come out and start that way.”

While Valley wanted to win, Kindig was careful about what he wanted to show Wawasee.

“You always have that thing where you could possibly play somebody the following week,” Kindig said. “So what do you show? What do you don’t show? And to be honest, I was trying to be vanilla tonight. I obviously wanted to win the game, but I wanted to play in such a way where we didn’t show a lot.”

Valley played without Mercedes Snapp, the team’s lone senior and their starting post player. Snapp, who scored a career-high 13 points in a win at Rochester on Jan. 15, left the game against Peru with a lower-body injury on Jan. 18 and has missed the last two games.

Kindig said Snapp will also miss the Manchester game. He said the injury had been bothering her prior to the Peru game.

He said the injury has not been diagnosed yet, and her status will be determined once she receives an MRI.

“When you look at her when she was a freshman and really wondering long-term was she going to help our program, I think there were some real questions I had in my mind about that,” Kindig said. “You fast-forward to her senior year, and obviously she’s helped us a bunch this year and really improved. Every year, she’s gotten a little bit better and a little bit better. Her work ethic has gotten better and better. … She’s much more familiar with the things that we try to do this year. And she’s shown some leadership too.

“If we can get everybody in our program to improve from their freshman year to their senior year like she has, then this program will be in pretty good shape. I really appreciate for her to hang in there.”

Kindig said Valley will have their “hands full” with Manchester (3-18). If Valley wins or if Northfield loses to Rochester, Valley will clinch a share of the TRC title. If Valley and Northfield both lose on Thursday, then Valley, Northfield and Maconaquah will finish in a three-way tie.

“They’re playing much better defensively,” Kindig said. “I think their shot selection is a lot better now than what it was earlier in the year. I think they were not used to playing with each other. … Those freshmen are sophomores now. So they’ve grown up a little bit. … Obviously, we’re not going to go in there and take them remotely lightly.”


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