By Josh Brown
MASON — For Tippecanoe senior Allison Mader, the fourth district championship was the toughest.
Mainly because she wasn’t able to help her teammates on the floor.
“Yes, being part of four district titles is something I’m very grateful for. But this year especially, with the timing of the injury, it’s been difficult,” she said.
Her presence was a big boost Friday night, though.
Mader warmed up with her Red Devil teammates before the game for the first time since being injured in the regular season finale, fellow senior Maddie Frederick scored 12 of her team-high 18 points in the first half to give the team a boost on the court and the Tippecanoe girls basketball team shut down Goshen defensively all night long to put away a convincing 51-36 victory in the Division II district final Friday at Mason — the team’s fifth straight district appearance and fourth straight title.
“We were super excited to have her back (in warmups),” Frederick said of Mader. “That was great. We’re really excited and hopeful that she can be back on the court with us next week.”
“Obviously I’m very proud of my team and everything they’ve accomplished,” Mader said. “But it has been very difficult, and I wish more than anything to be back on the court helping them.
“Seriously, I’ve missed this so much. I’m glad I’m close to getting back, and hopefully I can play next week in the regional.”
Tippecanoe (24-2), which won its 13th straight game this season, advances to the regional semifinal round Tuesday night at Springfield High School, where the Devils will face the winner between Buckeye Valley and Bloom-Carroll. The Warriors, meanwhile, saw their season come to an end at 14-12.
And even if the Devils’ shots weren’t falling in the early part of the game, they had everything working on the defensive end of the floor, allowing only one field goal in the first quarter and using an 8-0 run to take a 15-5 lead after one.
“Our energy was very good in the first quarter,” Tippecanoe coach Andy Holderman said. “Obviously some of our shots weren’t falling, but we were able to rebound a little bit better than we have been and got some second-chance opportunities, and defensively we were pretty solid in different stages of the game. We had a couple mental lapses late, but that’ll be something that we can look at and work on, staying mentally tough for the whole game.”
Frederick said that the team’s close call against Kenton Ridge, a 48-43 win in the sectional final earlier in the week, helped the Devils be tough enough mentally for Friday’s matchup.
“Oh, that definitely prepared us for this,” she said. “Kenton Ridge played great defense and made us work hard, so we came out with that hard-working mindset, played defense, got the ball up and down the court and had some fun.”
That defensive intensity continued in the second quarter for the Devils, and the shots eventually began to fall as a bucket by Cali Stewart kicked off an 11-0 run, with a 3 by Kendall Clodfelter putting an exclamation point on the outburst and making the score 28-8 before the Warriors finally got back on the scoreboard. It was far too late by the, though, with the Devils taking a 32-14 lead into halftime and going on another 11-0 run between the third and fourth to lead by as many as 26 at 49-23 early in the final quarter.
Tippecanoe went into ball control mode at that point, chewing as much time off the clock as possible with each possession. Goshen’s Paige Garr used that opportunity to score 11 of her game-high 22 points during the final eight minutes, but the Devils were never threatened.
“Defensively, we were able to rotate a few girls on Garr, but she’s a great player,” Holderman said. “We were a little disappointed in the fourth — she scored most of her points there, and we didn’t stay mentally tough. But that’s something we’ll look at.”
Garr had 22 points and six rebounds to lead the Warriors, but the dropoff was big after that. Miranda Meyer scored six points and no one else had more than four.
Frederick led Tippecanoe with 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists, Stewart had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists, Clodfelter had seven points, nine rebounds and three assists, Hailee Varvel had seven points, Claire Hinkle had five points, Brooke Aselage had four points and six rebounds and Chloe Schretzman had two points as the Devils outrebounded the Warriors 42-26 in the game.
“That’s fantastic,” Holderman said of the rebounding numbers. “Of course, a lot of rebounds means a lot of missed shots. But we want to continue to play well defensively and rebound the basketball, because that’s a must if you want to win games, especially the farther you go in the tournament.”
But the Devils’ goal since that regular season finale has been to keep winning long enough to allow Mader to play with her teammates again. And Friday night, they took the next step.
“It’s definitely nice to have Allison back on the court in warmups,” Holderman said. “She’s ready to go and practice tomorrow now, and I’ll tell you what, we had plenty of people step up tonight and throughout the tournament so far.
“It feels pretty good (to win a fourth straight district title). This senior class, I think, is the first one in Tippecanoe history to win four straight, and I think this is our fifth straight year getting here. And like I told the girls, it never gets old, cutting down the nets here. But we’ll enjoy this now, stay here and scout and then get ready for Tuesday’s game.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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