By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TIPP CITY — The Tippecanoe girls basketball team may be young and lack varsity experience.
But this year’s Red Devils definitely know that the stakes remain high.
“We’ve never lost in the (Greater Western Ohio Conference American) North (Division),” Ashleigh Mader said. “There’s a lot of pressure.”
Wednesday night, the two-time defending division Devils — who entered the night 30-0 in the North since joining the GWOC in the 2016-17 season — took steps to show that they can handle that pressure, too, outscoring visiting Sidney 21-3 in the third quarter to pull away for good in a 50-27 Tippecanoe victory over the Yellow Jackets in both team’s GWOC American North opener.
Mader, who is only a sophomore and one of the few players that saw regular varsity action on last year’s regional runner-up team, led the way with 18 points and five rebounds, scoring 13 of those in the first half — nine of those in the first quarter as the Devils (2-0, 1-0 GWOC American North) struggled to get going offensively, taking a 12-6 lead after one.
“It’s a completely different role,” Mader said. “Last year, I felt like I just needed to come in and just get done what I could to help the team. This year, I feel like I have to take more of a leadership position. We’re just trying to play well as a team and move the ball. Right now, we have a lot of people scoring and getting rebounds and steals, and it’s just a lot of fun to play.”
“We’re telling (Mader) to be a little more aggressive,” Tippecanoe coach Andy Holderman said. “One negative of this team is, I think at times we’re a little too unselfish. We give up a two-foot shot for a contested shot somewhere else. We’ve been talking about shot selection a lot and how we need to take the good ones when we get them.”
Sidney (0-3, 0-1 GWOC American North) continued to hang tough in the second quarter, though — even after senior Alina Kindle went down with an injury with 5:38 left in the half. Mader converted two steals around the perimeter into easy layups shortly after the injury to give the Devils a 20-7 lead, but Sam Reynolds scored a pair of buckets inside off the bench for Sidney to keep the Jackets alive, and Tippecanoe only led 22-13 at the break.
“At halftime, we had a little talk about staying focused, staying within ourselves and doing the things that we’re supposed to be doing offensively,” Holderman said. “Being a young team, there’s going to be some growing pains — and we’re going to continue to go through them. All we can do is put people in a position to take a high-quality shot, and it’s up to each individual to finish the deal. I think a lot of that will come with game-situation experience.
“You always try to simulate games in practice, but sometimes it’s difficult to do that. Again, we’re in a position where we’ve got a lot of new faces out here. We’ve got nine returning points from last year, so there’s opportunities for different people to step up.”
One of those young players that stepped up was sophomore Katie Hemmelgarn. The 6-foot-2 center finished with 12 points and led the Devils with eight rebounds off the bench, scoring eight of those points in the first half to help the Devils maintain enough separation going into the second half.
“Again, with the lack of experience, she’s learning what we want out of her,” Holderman said. “We talked about getting the ball into the post some and working inside out, and hopefully it continues to get better on that end.”
And in the second half, the Devils put the game away.
Tippecanoe opened the third on a 10-0 run, with senior Brooke Aselage — the only returning starter from last year’s team — and Mader hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to start the quarter. Katie Salyer and Kendall Clodfelter then both scored on putbacks before Reynolds was finally able to score in transition for Sidney to make the score 32-15 … but the damage had already been done, and the Devils held an insurmountable 43-16 lead heading into the fourth and closed the win out from there.
Salyer finished with six points, three rebounds and three assists for the Devils, Clodfelter had five points and three assists, Aselage had five points, Olivia Newbourn had two points, Rachel Wildermuth had one point and six rebounds and Jillian Brown added one point. Tippecanoe won the battle of the boards 32-19 and forced 21 turnovers while committing only 12.
For Sidney, Reynolds led the way with 11 points and eight rebounds and Keliyah Marcus added six points and five rebounds — all in the second half. Allie Herrick finished with four points, Peyton Wiley had three points, Emma Wiford scored two points and Marta Rodriguez chipped in one point.
“This first two games, I think we’ve showed some signs of some really good things, and we’ve showed some signs of inexperience,” Holderman said. “It’s a growing process, a learning process, and we’re going to make mistakes along the way. But as long as we learn from those mistakes, we’ll be fine.”
Inexperience or not, there’s a tradition of winning to maintain — and the Devils know it. Now they head into a two-game road trip next week, playing at Springboro Monday before traveling to division foe Piqua Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” Mader said. “We’re just going to continue doing our best and, hopefully, stay undefeated.”
GREENVILLE — Last season, Troy was swept by Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division rival Greenville in a pair of disappointing matchups.
There was no such disappointment Wednesday for the Trojans.
Freshman point guard Macie Taylor scored 19 points, again leading a trio of Trojans in double figures as Troy (2-0, 1-0 GWOC American North) opened division play with a statement victory over Greenville 52-23 in the second game of a four-game road trip to begin the season.
Macie Taylor, who also scored 19 in Troy’s season-opening win at Springfield Shawnee Monday, added four assists and two steals to her totals Wednesday night, while Tia Bass provided the power inside by posting a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. MaKenna Taylor gave Troy three players in double digits for the second straight game by hitting three 3-pointers to finish with 11 points, three assists and two steals.
Laura Borchers added four points and two assists, Taylor Roop had two points and Lauren McGraw posted double-digit rebounds for the second straight game with 11.
The Trojans only scored more than 50 points twice all of last season, posting 56 in back-to-back wins over West Carrollton and Xenia, and had only broken 50 three times in the last two season combined.
Troy continues its road trip Saturday at Cedarville.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.