By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TIPP CITY — When Tippecanoe girls basketball coach Andy Holderman called a second timeout in a 15-second span and pulled all five starters, he had a goal.
“I thought it kind of sent a message when we called that second timeout and pulled everybody, let our bench come in,” he said. “They came in with a little bit of spark. I can’t say we weren’t ready to play, but it did look like some of us didn’t want to be there. We tried to jump-start some things, but there’s only so much you can do from the sidelines.”
When the Red Devils subbed out their starters early in the fourth quarter, it was for a completely different reason.
That second timeout came after West Carrollton had scored on back-to-back possessions to cut Tippecanoe’s lead to one early, but the Red Devil reserves played well the final 5:20 of the first quarter and extended that lead to 11-7. The starters then returned in the second quarter and showed that they’d gotten the message, outscoring the Pirates 14-2 to build a 16-point halftime lead and coasting from there to a 60-30 Miami Valley League crossover win Wednesday at Tippecanoe High School.
The first-place Devils improved to 13-4 overall and 13-0 in division play with the win and, coupled with second-place Butler’s loss to Sidney to fall to 11-2, clinched at least a share of its fourth straight division title and the first in the MVL Miami Division. West Carrollton, the last-place team in the league, fell to 1-15 and 1-12 in the MVL Valley.
But even though the Devils had beaten the Pirates 52-24 in the first meeting between the teams, Holderman just felt like something was off before the game began.
“After you beat a team pretty handily the first time, it’s tough to be mentally ready to go the next time,” he said. “But that’s what we talked about — good teams are mentally ready to go no matter who they’re playing, doesn’t matter who it is. I think it was one of those games where it was tough to get up for it. Went into the locker room before the game, and everyone’s shivering because it’s cold in there, and I walked out and looked at (assistant coach) Brandon (Baker) and said ‘I don’t know, man.’ You could just sense it.”
And that premonition came to pass early, as the Devils maintained a 4-1 lead despite missing four easy layups in transition and committing three turnovers during the game’s first three minutes. After one more blown fast-break opportunity, Holderman called timeout with 5:34 on the clock to try to rally his girls.
After another turnover and a putback by West Carrollton’s Nyssa Banks 14 seconds later, Holderman called timeout again and sat the starters down.
From there, though, the bench came through. Rachel Wildermuth sank a 3 and scored on a drive to push the lead to 9-3, and a steal by Maddi Moran led to a transition layup by Alexa Mader to finish off a quick 7-0 run before the Pirates’ Taryn Dewberry hit a 3 to end it. Still, Tippecanoe held an 11-7 lead after one.
And when the starters returned in the second, they were focused and ready to go.
The Devils held the Pirates without a field goal in the second, with two Dewberry free throws cutting the lead to 13-9 early on — but then Tippecanoe finishing the half on a 12-0 run. Ashleigh Mader scored on a drive, hit a 3 and then started a fast break that Wildermuth finished, and then Hannah Wildermuth scored in the paint at the buzzer to make the score 25-9 and effectively put the game out of reach.
“Our starters responded coming back in the second quarter, only giving up two. A statement was made,” Holderman said. “I thought they did a good job responding to it.”
And even though West Carrollton was able to get more shots to fall in the second half, it still couldn’t slow down Tippecanoe — particularly Hannah Wildermuth, who scored 15 of her career-high 17 points after the break to help the Devils outscore the Pirates 19-13 in the third. And then, with the game in hand, Tippecanoe’s starters sat out the fourth — and the Devils’s bench won that quarter 16-8.
In the end, nine Devils got into the scorebook. Hannah Wildermuth added five rebounds to her 17 points, Ashleigh Mader had 13 points and three assists, Rachel Wildermuth finished with eight points and 12 rebounds, Kenna Smith had six points, Ashley Aselage had five points and seven rebounds, Olivia Spiller had four points, Katie Salyer had three points and five rebounds and Moran and Alexa Mader each had two points.
“In the first half, we gave up nine. Our defense, we’ve been working on it a little bit,” Holderman said. “I’m not happy giving up 21 in the second half, but we were able to get some girls in that haven’t gotten a lot of playing time and get them some quality minutes.”
Dewberry led the Pirates with 10 points and six rebounds, Ashley Williams hit three 3s and scored nine points, Hannah Bertke and Camecia Robinson each had three points and Ashiya Sales and Banks each scored two.
It was the Devils’ second game without senior starter Kendall Clodfelter and second straight sluggish start. Tippecanoe was also without Rachel Wildermuth on Saturday as it trailed Piqua at halftime before rallying in the second half to win 41-31.
Now Tippecanoe has two more home games against Greenville on Saturday and Fairborn on Jan. 29 before a tough three-game stretch to finish the regular season.
“Saturday, we were down two starters and Hemmelgarn got in quick foul trouble, so we were really down three starters early against Piqua. But again, I thought we did a good job in the second half of that game responding, too,” Holderman said. “It’s good. If you want to look at the bright side, it’s good to have some of these issues now — because it gives us time to get ourselves better. So hopefully we can get that done.”
Contact Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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