Junior Kaydence Mellott of Tippecanoe Valley looks for an open teammate during the first quarter as Emily Haines of Wawasee moves in to defend.
Junior Kaydence Mellott of Tippecanoe Valley looks for an open teammate during the first quarter as Emily Haines of Wawasee moves in to defend.
NAPPANEE - The Tippecanoe Valley Vikings girls’ basketball squad trailed 36-22 with 56 seconds left in the third quarter before scoring five points to end the period, then finishing what resulted in a 19-0 run to overtake the Wawasee Warriors 42-41 in Class 3A Sectional 20 action at Northwood’s Panther Pit Friday night.

The Vikings (17-7) advance to the sectional final Saturday to battle Wet Noble (6-17) at 7:30 p.m.

“These girls have worked hard all year,” valley head coach Chris Kindig said. “Halftime, it looked pretty grim. Offensively we got into a rhythm in the second half. We talked about chipping away. You can’t make up 16 points in two minutes.”

The Warriors headed to the locker room at halftime leading 28-12 by executing their signature style of aggressive play, and a surprising sharp-shooting clinic put on by guard Jada Carter. The 5’9” senior hit three buckets from 3-point range and a mid-range jumper for 11 of the Warriors’ 15 opening period points.

Kennedy White, Carter’s athletic 5’10” classmate, scored seven second period points, and Wawasee took their 15-6 lead entering the second quarter, and stretched it to 28-12 at halftime. The Warriors also lead after three periods 36-27.

“I thought we had good ball movement, and we were the aggressors,” Wawasee head coach Matt Carpenter said of the first half surge. “We attacked and pressure with aggression, and it created easy shots for us in the paint and on the perimeter. In the second half we were on our heels a little bit.

“Jada got us going in the first quarter. Funny thing about Jada, we were warming up in the activities center and when we came into the gym, she couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. I kidded her (about) saving it all for tonight.”

Kaydence Mellott, the evening’s leading scorer with 22 points, hit a layup on a baseline drive to bring Valley within a single point, 36-35, and the Vikings’ 6’0” center, Mercedes Snapp, hit another layup to give her squad its first lead of the night, 37-36 in the final frame.

Carter, who finished with 13 points for Wawasee on the evening, picked up two fourth-quarter fouls fouling out of the ballgame with 2:59 remaining in game, and the Vikings put four more points on the board before the Warriors’ Becca Smith hit one of two free-throw attempts, followed by Emily Haines’s inside basket, and White’s steal and layup to tie the game 41-41. With 32 ticks on the game clock.

Valleys’ Molly Moriarty hit one of two free throws with 22.5 seconds putting Valley ahead 42-41. There were plenty of ticks on the clock for Wawasee to retake the lead.

Coach Carpenter called a timeout with 16 seconds left, and when the huddle dispersed Wawasee saw an inside mismatch with 5’11” Doss moving inside against a pair of Viking 5’3” guards, Moriarty, and sophomore Chesnee Miller.

Miller stripped the ball from Doss, and Moriarty drew a foul immediately after her theft 4.1 seconds left in the battle.

“That’s what we talked about in the huddle,” Kindig said of his team’s crucial stop. “They were going to go down low. We forced (Doss) to the middle and our guards came in and doubled down on her, and obviously that worked.”

Moriarty missed both free throws, and the Warriors’ White heaved a long jump shot bouncing off the glass and rim as the final buzzer sounded.

“Let’s give Tippy Valley a lot of credit. They played harder than we did in the second half, “Carpenter said. “It didn’t just start there (late in the third quarter). I thought our girls started playing a little more passive… instead of keeping the pedal to the medal to force what we wanted to do.”

White led Wawasee with 15 points to go along with Carter’s aforementioned 13 tallies. Smith added 7 points, and Olivia Horn, Haines and Doss added 2 points apiece.

Valley’s Mellott had help from Moriarty (12 points), Corinna Stiles (4 points), and Miller and Snyder each added 2 points.