By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — In its season opener, the Tippecanoe girls basketball team played solid defense but just did not shoot the basketball well.
Against county rival Miami East, the Red Devils showed what can happen when they put both together.
Taylor Prall and Allison Mader combined to score 24 first-half points and each finished with 16 points, while the Red Devil defense forced 20 turnovers and made sure no Viking player had more than one field goal as Tippecanoe (1-1) coasted to a 53-22 victory Wednesday night in its home opener.
It was a 180-degree turnaround for a Devil offense that shot only 20.6 percent from the floor in a 38-28 loss to Fairmont in the season opener.
“That was nice for us,” Tippecanoe coach Andy Holderman said. “First-game jitters at Fairmont, they’re a solid team, playing the season opener in a big arena — there were a lot of factors going on. But we were able to make some adjustments, get some shots off this week and boost some confidence.
“We were able to not be in a hurry and have quality possessions tonight. We just want to make sure we’re continuing to get better. We had a post presence tonight and took advantage of some of that. Overall, we were very unselfish, and with that, good things will come.”
For the Vikings (1-2), it was another struggle holding onto the basketball, with 12 first-half turnovers leading to a large number of Tippecanoe fast breaks. And when East did get shots off, the Red Devils limited them to one miss and done thanks to the rebounding of Chloe Schretzman.
With the score tied 6-6 early, Schretzman grabbed a defensive rebound on one end then scored on a putback on the other to give the Devils a lead they would never relinquish. A steal and layup by Mader, a 3 by Mader and a pair of free throws by Prall made the score 15-6 after one, the Devils finishing the quarter on a 9-0 run.
A putback by Amber Kinnison early in the second quarter got the Vikings back to within six at 17-11, but that was the closest they’d get the rest of the way. Mader hit another 3, then Schretzman dished to Prall for a fast-break finish that made it 22-11 and forced an East timeout. Mader then hit Prall for another fast-break layup before Camryn Miller hit a 3 for East to make it 24-14, but the Devils built a 14-point halftime lead thanks to a series of free throws before the half.
“In the first half, we thought it was going to be turnovers again,” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said — 26 turnovers led to a Viking loss to Butler on Saturday. “We had 12 in the first half … but knocking down shots (hurt too). A combination of not getting enough shots in the first half because of turnovers and then getting shots in the second half and not making them … give Tipp credit. They just outworked us in every aspect of the game. They got after every loose ball, they rebounded, they moved without the ball so well offensively, and we didn’t do a good job of moving with the passes and going through the passing lanes with our hands up.”
The Devils held the Vikings to only one field goal in the third quarter — a bucket inside by Haley Howard — going on an 11-1 run right after to put the game well out of reach. Tippecanoe then held East scoreless in the fourth quarter until a 3 at the final buzzer by Maria Staton. In total, the Vikings were held to only seven field goals in the game — one apiece by seven different players.
Staton, Bailey and Camryn Miller each had four points to lead the Vikings, Howard had three points and six rebounds, Emily Hawkins had three points, Kinnison had two points and five rebounds and Gabrielle Hawkins had two points.
After Mader and Prall, Schretzman finished with eight points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots for the Devils, Isabel Crow had seven points and five rebounds off the bench, Hailee Varvel had three points and six rebounds, Jillian Brown had two points and Brooke Aselage had one point and five rebounds as Tippecanoe won the battle of the boards 37-29 and the turnover battle 20-12.
“That’s one thing we took away from the Fairmont game — when you’re only giving up 38 points, you’re hoping you can put up more points on the offensive end,” Holderman said. “I think we did a better job of playing team defense tonight, which led to some frustration offensively on their end. In the second half, I thought we did a better job of rebounding the basketball.
“Still, up 30 or down 30, there’s things as a coach that you want to see people get better at. We were ablt to get some of our younger players some quality time tonight, and it was good to see them step up and get some experience. We just hope to get better each game.”
Tippecanoe plays its first Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division game on Dec. 7 against Sidney, while the Vikings open Cross County Conference play Thursday against Tri-County North.
“It’s a non-league game, a loss that doesn’t affect us as far as standings, but it’s a game we like having on the schedule,” Vanover said. “They make us better, and we need to play these kind of teams to continue to get better. We’ve still got to play tomorrow. We told the girls to think about this one on the way home, and then to forget about it.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.