Senior Nolan Cumberland of Tippecanoe Valley fades back for a shot against Kyler Krull of Whitko during Friday night's game at Whitko.
Senior Nolan Cumberland of Tippecanoe Valley fades back for a shot against Kyler Krull of Whitko during Friday night's game at Whitko.
SOUTH WHITLEY – Those in attendance to see the Three Rivers Conference matchup between Tippecanoe Valley and Whitko Friday night got their money’s worth. The exciting back and forth game ended as a 55-41 Viking victory, but the game was closer for far longer than the final score would indicate. Valley improves to 3-3, 1-1 in the TRC, while Whitko falls to 2-5, 0-1.

All three of the game’s lead changes came in the first half. Both teams struggled to score in the opening period, where Whitko was led by Kyler Krull, who scored the first four points of the game. Krull finished with nine. For Valley, it was a two-man wrecking crew for the first half and majority of the game. Nolan Cumberland put the team on his back in the first quarter, scoring all nine points. More on Cumberland later.

The second quarter belonged to Riley Shepherd who scored the first eight points of the second quarter, picking up where Cumberland left off. Shepherd would contribute 12 points in the contest. On the other side of the court, Slater Craig and Mason Streby kept the Wildcats close, with Streby scoring all six of his points in the quarter. Craig would finish the game as the top Whitko scorer with 14 points and two steals. The two teams would remain neck and neck with a two-point differential at halftime.

The third quarter is where the Vikings pulled away. This is where Cumberland, who already had 14 points to this point, put his stamp on the game. Heckled by the home student section chanting “toothpick” while he was at the line, Cumberland silenced the crowd himself. With Valley up by three midway through the quarter, Cumberland would hit a three-pointer, grab a steal and bang home another trifecta in a 10 second span to push the lead to nine. He’d finish his spectacular night with 24 points and eight rebounds.

“Noah’s been struggling a little bit this year, I don’t think he’s been shooting the ball enough,” Viking head coach Chad Patrick said. “Nolan had by far his best game of the year. He was attacking the basket and hitting his open shots.

“We didn’t have much movement on offense in the first half, a lot of guys being stagnant and standing around, and we needed to let our defense turn into our offense. In the second half we started pressing and trapping and that loosened us up and got us going.”

Cumberland would have some help in the second half, as Tayde Kisner would score 10 of his 12 points after halftime. Despite the Vikings holding a double-digit lead for the entirety of the final period, Coach Patrick kept coaching until the final whistle, fired up to get a victory over his alma mater.

“I just want these guys to play hard. A lot of people know I played here and it gets me a little jacked up being here, I always want to win here,” Patrick said.

Tippecanoe Valley plays its next game Tuesday night at Culver Community while Whitko will host Maconaquah the same evening.