By Josh Brown
NEW CARLISLE — A shorthanded Tippecanoe girls basketball team is still a dangerous one.
Thursday, the top-seeded Red Devils showed just how dangerous.
With two starters out of the lineup, No. 1 Tippecanoe (21-2) — which has been the regional runner-up three seasons in a row — opened the Division II sectional tournament with a dominant showing against a still-outmanned Belmont team, shutting out the No. 14 Bison for three-and-a-half quarters and winning 70-5 Thursday at Tecumseh High School.
For the Devils (21-2), just getting back onto the floor was important after their regular season finale.
During Saturday’s win over Butler to finish the regular season, Allison Mader — a senior, four-year starter and the second-leading scorer in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division — hit the floor hard and left the game with a serious injury, and the Devils don’t know when she’ll be able to return to the lineup. It was a frightening moment that shook the team and everyone else in attendance, and the five days between it and getting back to basketball were difficult.
“Obviously we were off Sunday, and we went ahead and took Monday off just to give us some time,” Tippecanoe coach Andy Holderman said. “The girls went over and visited Allison. It was a tough situation, and we did need to get back on the court. But Tuesday’s practice went really well. We got off a lot of shots and just worked on some fundamentals, got ourselves ready to go for this.
“It’s a tournament environment, the butterflies are going, your hands are cold and sweaty, so it’s nice to get one under our belt.”
But Thursday, the Devils were also without Cali Stewart, another senior and the team’s third-leading scorer, who missed the game with an illness. Despite all of that, though, Tippecanoe still had plenty of firepower to handle the Bison.
Maddie Frederick — the GWOC American North’s leading scorer — scored all 11 of her points in the first quarter as the Red Devil defense forced 11 turnovers and only allowed Belmont to take one shot, blanking the Bison and taking a 27-0 lead after one.
And even after Tippecanoe’s starters sat down early in the second quarter, the Devils didn’t slow down. Belmont only got off three shots off in the second quarter and turned the ball over eight more times, and Tippecanoe converted on practically every possession, taking a 49-0 lead at halftime.
The second half was played completely under the OHSAA’s new mercy rule — a running clock in the second half once one team leads by 35 points, turned off only when the lead is cut below 30, implemented for this year’s tournament. After the third, Belmont was 0 for 5 from the field and Tippecanoe led 60-0 with the first- and second-stringers on the bench midway through the quarter. And with 3:40 left in the game Belmont’s Jocelyn Fisher finally rattled in a long 3 for the Bison’s first points of the game, with the Devils scoring the game’s first 66 points en route to the easy win.
Jordan White added the other two points for Belmont.
Kendall Clodfelter, who got the start, scored a career-high 12 points, while Ashleigh Mader added a career-high 12 points off the bench to lead the Red Devils. After Frederick’s 11 points, Brooke Aselage added nine points and five rebounds, Claire Hinkle had six points and three assists, Hailee Varvel had four points, five rebounds and six steals, Chloe Schretzman and Katie Hemmelgarn each scored four points and Corinn Siefring, Mackenzie Smith, Olivia Newbourn and Rachel Wildermuth each scored two points as 12 Tippecanoe players got on the board.
“It was nice to go against a zone defense,” Holderman said. “We saw Northwestern was here, so we worked on our one-zone offense. We worked the ball and got everybody involved. It was nice to get everybody on the scoreboard. We brought four JV players up — we’re going to be losing six seniors (after this year), so we dressed as many as we could dress. It was an opportunity to get them a little time.”
The Red Devils also got interesting news from another tournament site on the night: Alter — the three-time defending state champion that has defeated Tippecanoe in the regional final each of the past three years — lost 43-32 to Badin in the opening round.
Now Tippecanoe will be off for a week until Feb. 22, when it will face No. 11 Northwestern at 6 p.m. at Tecumseh.
“It was nice to get one under our belt, but now we’ve got another week,” Holderman said. “We’ll be able to prepare for Northwestern and get back at it.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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