Tippecanoe Valley senior Kaydence Mellott puts up a three-point attempt during the first quarter of Tuesday night's home game against Culver Girls Academy. Photos by Gary Nieter
Tippecanoe Valley senior Kaydence Mellott puts up a three-point attempt during the first quarter of Tuesday night's home game against Culver Girls Academy. Photos by Gary Nieter
Points were at a premium in Tippecanoe Valley’s 42-33 victory over Culver Academies Tuesday night. Both teams had just 20 points at halftime as defense was the name of the game. In the end, the aggressiveness of the Lady Vikings would pay off, as the home team ended the night with 18 points in the fourth quarter to come out on top.

“That was a good win for us, hard fought,” Tippecanoe Valley head coach Chris Kindig said after the game. “Both teams played really hard tonight, and we got tested.”

The game’s intensity was apparent from the opening tip, which was controlled by Culver. Immediately, two Valley defenders swarmed the ball handler, rotating to keep the double team going after each pass. Valley’s zone defense would work wonders in the opening quarter, as Culver struggled to find passing lanes and turned the ball over a handful of times.

On the other side, turnovers would hurt the Lady Vikings as well. With the team passing the ball early and often to try and find an open teammate, mistakes would be made. Tippecanoe Valley would take a lead in the first quarter and would look like the more energetic team, but some bad passes at bad times would keep the lead from expanding further. Despite not making much from the field in the opening period, the Lady Vikings would attack the rim with purpose and force some early foul trouble upon the Lady Eagles. A big three pointer at the end of the quarter from Lily Ault put Tippy Valley up 11-7 after a quarter.

The Lady Vikings would keep it rolling to start the second. The team’s leading scorer, senior Kaydence Mellott, would finally put in her first field goal of the night 30 seconds into the quarter on a three ball. Another quick bucket would have Tippy Valley up 16-7 after a quick 5-0 run.

However, it would not take long for Culver to answer, and the Lady Eagles answered with force. The visitors would respond by ripping off a 9-0 run to tie the game at 16 and force a timeout. After coming back to action, Culver would extend the run and take the lead for the second time of the evening. The two sides would trade baskets in the final minute of the quarter to end the first half deadlocked at 20-20.

“I thought Culver played really good defense tonight, made it really difficult for us to get into our sets,” Kindig said.

Mellott would get it going once again to start off the second half. The senior would score the first four points of the quarter to put the Lady Vikings on top once again. Those would be the only four points of the quarter for Tippecanoe Valley, as Culver would get it going on the defensive end again, denying or altering each shot at the rim and then calmly grabbing each rebound afterwards. The Lady Eagles would score the next seven points and take a three-point lead into the final quarter.

Despite being unsuccessful attacking the rim for a majority of the third quarter, Tippy Valley stuck to its game plan and continued its aggression in the final period. The strategy would pay off, as once again Culver could not stop itself from getting into foul trouble. The Lady Vikings would play the final five minutes of the game in the bonus.

Coming up big in the fourth quarter was another Valley senior, Corinna Stiles. Stiles was a monster on the glass all night, leading the team with 13 rebounds. The senior would step up her scoring in the fourth quarter, picking up points in key situations. Her first big bucket came after a hectic sequence on the court that saw four shots miss in succession for the home side. After the fourth, the offensive rebound went right into Stiles hands, and into the basket not long after. Stiles was fouled on the play and made her free throw to tie the game at 27.

The Lady Vikings would go on top for the first time in the fourth off of a couple of made free throws from Stiles minutes later. She would lead the way for Tippy Valley with eleven points.

“We should get a double-double from her every night,” Kindig said. “She can do so many things, play all five positions if we need her to. She played great tonight.”

With the game still in the balance, Molly Moriarty hit a big three moments later to extend the lead to four. With momentum shifting strongly once again, the young Culver side began to unravel, committing multiple fouls in the backcourt and giving the Lady Vikings more free throw opportunities. Tippy Valley was able to convert on most of their freebies down the stretch and hold on for their third victory in as many games.

“Those final four minutes, we ran a smaller line up with four guards and a forward, and I think that was the difference in the game,” Kindig said. “We got some steals and created some problems in the half court. Really happy with how we finished,”

The 3-0 Lady Vikings will travel to Warsaw Thursday for a road game at the Tiger Den.