AKRON — Tippecanoe Valley opens the 2021-22 girls basketball season Thursday, Nov. 4 against visiting IHSAA Class 2A Bremen on Rita Price Simpson Court.

Thirteenth-year Vikings coach Chris Kindig looks at his squad and sees little size, but plenty of quickness.

“For us to be successful, we’re going to need to press and trap some (on defense),” says Kindig. “We want to pressure in the full court and half court and take advantage of our speed and quickness.

“We want to play fast (on offense) and get the ball up and down the floor. We’ve got a few outside shooters and not a lot of post presence.

“We’re going to have to play together. They’re going to all have to contribute (to the scoring column) .”

Graduation took Sidney Wagner to Trine University. She led the team in scoring (19.6), rebounds (7.7), assists (5.0) and steals (4.5) as Valley went 13-9 overall and 7-2 in the Three Rivers Conference (tied for second with 2A Rochester and behind champion 1A Northfield) in 2020-21.

While the program won at least 13 games for the eighth straight season, the Vikings lost a 62-61 overtime game to NorthWood in the Class 3A Wawasee Sectional semifinals.

The last of Valley’s eight sectional titles — three on Kindig’s watch — came in 2017.

Also graduating for the 2020-21 Vikings were 6-foot-1 Hayley Backus (7.0 points and 4.9 rebounds) and Ashley Butler (3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds).

Four letterwinners return in juniors Kaydence Mellott (13.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game with 66 3-pointers), Lily Ault (5.2 points and 1.9 rebounds with 29 3-pointers) and Corinna Stiles (4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds) and senior Mercedes Snapp (1.4 points and 1.7 rebounds). At 6 foot, Stiles and Snapp are the team’s tallest players.

Kindig says Mellott is coming off a foot injury that did not allow her to play in the summer.

The rest of the varsity mix to open the season features senior move-in Meta Keyes, junior Molly Moriarty, sophomores Chesnee Miller, Macy Petersen and Ava Smith and freshmen Lydia Craig and Carlee Snyder. Petersen is expected to miss early games because of injury.

Five of the Vikings’ first six games are at home (with a road contest at Culver Academies), which Kindig sees as a benefit with so many varsity newcomers and a team seeking its identity.

“We need to get off to a really good start,” says Kindig.

Valley hosts 4A’s Warsaw (18-6 in 2020-21) and Northwestern (13-6 in 2020-21 and a state champion in 2017-18, 2018-19 and a state runner-up in 2019-20) on back-to-back nights Nov. 12-13.

There’s also home clashes with 4A Logansport Nov. 16 and conference foe 3A Maconaquah Nov. 23.

A stretch of six straight road games starts Nov. 27 and goes through Dec. 16 (against 1A Oregon-Davis, 4A Plymouth, 2A Wabash, 1A Triton, 1A North Miami and 2A Winamac). There are five TRC games during the 2021 portion of the schedule (Maconaquah, Wabash, Triton, North Miami and 2A Whitko) and five in 2022 (Northfield, Rochester, 3A Peru, 1A Southwood and 2A Manchester).

Looking at the conference, Kindig notes that Northfield had six seniors last winter while Rochester had three.

“(Rochester) is probably the favorite,” says Kindig. “We’ll see where we land.

“We’re going to be at our best every night. We don’t want to have those lapses. We want to play at a high level every quarter for us to be able to compete.”

Kindig (177-78 in 12 seasons) looks at the season as a process.

“As we get more and more experience and more games under our belts we’ll get better and better,” says Kindig. “I really like this team’s mental outlook.

“I think our chemistry’s going to be really good.”

The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated summer games for Valley in 2020. In 2021, they took on many squads. Among those outside the area were 3A’s Norwell (23-6 and sectional and regional champions in 2020-21) and Jay County (19-4 in 2020-21).



Roster



10 Lydia Craig Fr G 5-6

12 Lily Ault Jr G 5-5

20 Carlee Snyder Fr C 5-10

22 Kaydence Mellott Jr G 5-8

24 Corinna Stiles Jr F 6-0

30 Molly Moriarty Jr G 5-3

32 Chesnee Miller So G 5-6

40 Macy Petersen So F 5-8

42 Meta Keyes Sr C 5-10

44 Ava Smith So F 5-7

52 Mercedes Snapp Sr C 6-0