Tippecanoe Valley junior Nolan Cumberland scores two of his first quarter eight points during Friday night's home game against Rochester.
Tippecanoe Valley junior Nolan Cumberland scores two of his first quarter eight points during Friday night's home game against Rochester.

AKRON – Spectators walking into the gym at Tippecanoe Valley High School Friday night would be able to tell very quickly that this was no ordinary game.

People getting to the game less than an hour before tip needed luck finding somewhere to park. Fans were welcomed into the arena with a sea of green on one side of the bleachers, and a sea of black on the other. They witnessed a couple of students in Valley’s student section spear a stuffed zebra through the top of a flagpole, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. All of this could only mean one thing: it was time to renew the rivalry between the Vikings and the Rochester Zebras. Unfortunately, the energy of the game matched that of the crowd for only the first quarter. The Vikings would emerge victorious in dominating fashion, 59-36.

“We’ve always told our players what [this game meant] in the old days and now we don’t’ have to tell them anymore, they saw it,” Tippecanoe Valley head coach Chad Patrick said. “I’m really proud of our fans and students for showing up, crazy energy and a lot of fun.”

With tensions running high as the game began, both teams started the game by feeling each other out. Whether it was the nerves of such a large contest or the sheer defensive effort put together by both sides in the opening period, neither side was quick to jump out to a lead. The quarter featured three ties as well as three lead changes. The Viking student section let themselves be heard early an often, booing former Valley player Paul Leasure every time he touched the ball, even including sentimental quips such as “We don’t need you” or “Overrated.” Leasure would finish with eleven.

The first quarter belonged to Tippy Valley standout Nolan Cumberland, who scored the team’s first eight points, keeping pace with the Zebras. Cumberland would keep up the pace for the entirety of the game, finishing with another stellar score line of 22 points and five rebounds.

It was the second quarter where the Vikings would establish themselves as the superior team for the night. The Vikings would blitz the Zebras with a 9-2 run in the first 2:36 of the quarter, and wouldn’t look back from there, finishing the quarter with a 20-4 run. Valley, leading by just two after a quarter, would head into the locker room with a 30-12 halftime lead. While Cumberland would continue his strong night, he would receive help from fellow junior Tayde Kiser. Kiser would put together a fantastic night of his own, leading all scorers with 23 points and adding four rebounds.

“Tayde and Nolan have been our leaders. They go the hardest in practice, no matter what’s going on,” Patrick said. “We expect games like this out of them, it was an all around great team win.”

Besides the offense that was able to score at will at points throughout the night, the Vikings played hardnosed defense for all 32 minutes. Senior Dawson Perkins didn’t contribute much in the scoring column, only finishing with four, but was dominant on the glass and defensively, finishing with 12 rebounds and five blocks.

“Our man-to-man defense is really good, especially with Dawson back. Anytime someone got beat it felt like he was there to block the shot,” Patrick said. “He makes all the difference in the world, it allows our defense to get on people. We’re really long, we’re really athletic, and we can lock people down like we did tonight.”

With the score so lopsided for the remainder of the game, the energy in the gym slowly started to fizzle out. But the Valley faithful remained for the entirety of the game, and celebrated the win on the court with the players after the game had concluded. The 7-4 Vikings play their next game Friday at Southwood, giving fans and players the chance to celebrate this victory for a little while longer.

“We’ve wanted this one since last year for a variety of reasons, said Patrick. "You always love rivalry games, and it was a lot of fun tonight.”