Tippecanoe Valley senior Tayde Kiser drives to the basket while getting a helping hand dribbling from Southwood's Nathan Lehner. Photos by Gary Nieter
Tippecanoe Valley senior Tayde Kiser drives to the basket while getting a helping hand dribbling from Southwood's Nathan Lehner. Photos by Gary Nieter
AKRON - The Tippecanoe Valley Vikings’ Tayde Kiser erupted for 21 second-half points, leading all scorers with 23 for the evening in Valley’s sixth straight win. The Vikings moved to 11-3 and 4-1 in the Three Rivers Conference behind co-leaders Manchester and Peru with a 62-47 win over the Southwood Knights.

Each eruption begins with a groundswell, and Kiser’s groundswell began in the third quarter after the Vikings, who led 28-22 at halftime, surrendered five unanswered points to the Knight. Class 3A’s third-best scoring defense was in a dissatisfying situation at the 6:02 mark in the third stanza.

Kiser, who had two first half points on only 1-4 shooting, scored on two consecutive layups in transition – the second coming off an outlet from a Cooper Walls steal. The Vikings increased their lead to 35-22 when 6’5” junior sharpshooter Riley Shepherd canned a 3-point shot. Kiser and Shepherd volleyed two more points between them to close the third frame with a 39-31 lead.

Then “Mount Kiser” erupted in the final period.

The 6’2 senior - who complemented his scoring with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals – reeled off 9 consecutive points with one trey, another bucket driving through the lane, and two free throws. Shepherd (17 points including 5-7 beyond the arc, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) took advantage of the opportunity to punctuate the run hitting nothing but net beyond the arc.

The Vikings’ scoring tandem had some help from Stephen Akase’s inside bucket leading as much as 55-36 before the Knights had a, 8-1 mini rally courtesy of senior guard Nathan Lehner to move within 12 points, 56-44.

The Knights continued to foul Kiser, who sunk all 10 of his free throw attempts in the final quarter before the final buzzer sounded in the 62-47 TRC win for the green-and-gold.

Valley, who entered the game giving up an average of 42.6 points per contest played solid defense against the Knights holding them to 36% shooting from the field (17-47).

While Kiser was the hot hand at the free throw line in a contest where everyone else struggled at the charity stripe, free throw miseries contributed to the Knights’ 50% performance (8-16) at the line. Kiser’s other Viking teammates were even colder than their guests, hitting only 5 of 11 (45%) freebies.

The victors couldn’t shake the tenacious Knights in the first two periods of play in Rita Price Simpson court, leading 12-6 after the opening period, and 28-22 at halftime.

Nolan Cumberland, who opened the night 46 points shy of 1,000 career points for the Vikings, scored all 13 of his points in the first half.

Tippecanoe Valley head coach Joe Luce shared what he thought was gnawing at Cumberland, who was 5-16 for the field, but made things happen with 4 assists.

“I told him we’ve got a lot of games to play,” Luce said. “(You’re) gonna’ get those 1,000 points. ‘You’re playing with house money. Just go out there, play the season, the sectionals, regional, semistate’… those points are gonna’ add up.”

“You’ll make other things happen,” Luce continued.

Cumberland did, adding 7 rebounds in the contest. Akase, a 6’6” man-child freshman, led all rebounders with 9 caroms (3 offensive). Akase has his own groundswell going in the form of athletic potential and the opportunity to continually improve his knowledge of the game.

“He’s just so athletic,” Luce noted regarding his first-year Viking. “The potential is there, and it will be really exciting to see him develop.”

Akase added 7 points and an assist. He had numerous good looks in his passing game finding Viking teammates in the opposite corner of his baseline position at least a handful of times.

5’10” senior guard Cooper Walls added 2 points, 2 steals, and 2 assists for the hosts.

Tippecanoe Valley finished the evening 20-48 (42%) from the field (7-18 – 39% - from 3-point range).

Southwood was led by Lehner and Dylan Stout with 11 points apiece. Siblings Cole and Will Winer each contributed 8 points. The four scoring leaders played aggressive, physical defense committing 16 fouls among the quartet.

Luce remarked to his players, in an interesting analogy, why there is a big target on their backs making each game hereafter a lot of hard work. While the finish was a convincing margin of victory, attaining that spread was hard work in a very physical contest.

“I told them it’s their fault these games are gonna’ be tough,” he said. “You’ve been beating people by 15-20 points a game, you’re noted for your defensive scoring average….”

The junior varsity Vikings notched a 33-29 win in the early game. Valley’s scoring effort was led by Trent Marshall (9 points), Ian Cooksey (7 points), and Nate Parker (6 points).

The Vikings travel to TRC co-leader Manchester (12-2, 4-0) who features another area elite player in 6’6” sophomore Gavin Betten this Friday for a 6:15 JV tip-off.