By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — The selflessness of this year’s Tippecanoe girls basketball senior class was on display before Wednesday’s Senior Night game even tipped off.
“We had a bunch of different girls wanting to be the odd girl out for starting on Senior Night, which is really unheard of,” Holderman said. The Devils’ senior class was six strong, leaving one girl out of the starting lineup. “It’s just an unselfish group.”
That senior proved to be Allison Mader, a four-year starter who became the program’s eighth 1,000-point scorer earlier this season. But it didn’t matter in the end, as all six of the Red Devils’ seniors contributed on the night in some way, particularly defensively in the first half, allowing Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division rival Troy only four points at the break en route to a 55-41 victory Wednesday at Tippecanoe.
Maddie Frederick, a newcomer to Tippecanoe this year, led the way with 21 points and six rebounds, with Mader adding 13 points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench. Claire Hinkle had five points and five rebounds, Chloe Schretzman had four points and five rebounds, Cali Stewart had three points and Hailee Varvel had two points as the six seniors led the Devils (19-2, 14-0 GWOC American North) to their eighth straight win.
“It’s a fantastic group,” Holderman said of his seniors. “These girls have busted their tails in the four years they’ve been here. They’re all great leaders. And with the addition of (transfer) Maddie Frederick this year, trying to fit her game into the system, get her comfortable with the system and everyone comfortable with each other, it’s been a fun journey — and I think we’re heading in the right direction. And what a better time to do it than tournament time.”
And tournament time is where this senior class has truly shined over the years.
Tippecanoe’s seniors entered Wednesday’s game with a 90-13 career record, including now two straight GWOC American North titles along with three sectional and district championships. The Devil seniors have reached the regional championship game each of their previous three seasons, as well, and are looking to finally break through to the state tournament.
If Wednesday’s first half is any indication, they’re peaking at the right time.
The Devils shut down a Troy team that entered the night playing its best basketball of the season, having won five of its last six and coming off arguably its best win of the season, a 45-37 win over Butler on Saturday. But the Trojans (11-10, 8-6 GWOC American North) only managed one first-half field goal against Tippecanoe’s defense, falling behind 13-3 after one quarter and 32-4 at halftime.
“It was a tale of two halves tonight. And in the first half tonight, we didn’t execute well — and boy, did they,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “Against a team the quality of Tipp City, we have to play near perfect just to hang, let alone beat a team like that. Our energy and effort and mental focus just wasn’t there in the first half. We were out of position a lot, and that caused us to foul.”
That put the Trojans in a bind throughout most of the first half as their two primary weapons and leading scorers, Tia Bass and Alaura Holycross, both had to sit in foul trouble.
Tippecanoe had all of its weapons at its disposal, though, and Frederick was the one that took advantage the most. Her mid-range jumper was deadly in the first half as she scored 14 of her game-high 21 points before the break to stake the Devils out to the 28-point lead — their largest of the game.
“We were (executing), especially after we got the Senior Night-itis out of us,” Holderman said. “I thought we did a pretty good job in that second quarter of executing and getting the shots we wanted.
“When you put Maddie in the middle of that zone, there’s a lot of good things that can happen. It’s a spot that’s new for her. It’s a position that she’s not normally in, and it’s a process of learning and getting more comfortable with it. The shots weren’t going early, but we had good looks.”
The Trojans fought back in the second half, though, outscoring the Devils 14-12 in the third quarter to make the score 44-18 going into the fourth. And with Bass and Holycross back inside, Dana Wynkoop hit three straight fourth-quarter 3s to get the Trojans back to within 14 — once at 50-36 and then again with the final score of the game.
“They fought. They battled,” Johnson said. “At halftime, I told the girls that ‘I could draw something up, but are we going to play hard?’ And every single one of them yelled — and I saw that on the floor. I told them that I didn’t care about the score, let’s just get back to executing and playing hard and doing the things that we do well, and I think we did that in the second half.”
Wynkoop and Jordan Short both scored nine points to lead the Trojans on the night, Bass had eight points and eight rebounds and Holycross had eight points and five rebounds. Valena Robinson added three points and six rebounds, Kiyha Adkins scored two points and Laura Borchers and MaKenna Taylor each scored a point.
For Tippecanoe, Brooke Aselage added five points and four rebounds and Katie Salyer scored two points.
Both teams finish the regular season on the road Saturday, with Tippecanoe traveling to Butler and Troy facing rival Piqua.
“This is one of those games where we’ll watch the third and fourth quarters on film, the first and second quarters will get erased somehow, and we’ll get ready for Piqua,” Johnson said. “I don’t care what their record or our record is. We have to come ready to play. We can’t have a quarter, let alone a half, like we had tonight.”
And for Tippecanoe, having Senior Night over, the division title wrapped up and the tournament draw set is likely the biggest help for the team’s focus.
“It does (help),” Holderman said. “The next game is the most important one you’re going to play — and after Saturday, if you look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game and you’re not up by at least one, you’re done. We’re going to refocus, put this game behind us, build on the things we did in the first half, head to Butler and hopefully get better and continue on the up slope.”
Other scores: Greenville 42, Piqua (7-14, 4-10 GWOC American North) 28.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.