NEW CARLISLE — It is always the toughest time in the season.
And only four high school girls basketball teams in the state of Ohio don’t experience it.
And it was particularly difficult for Tippecanoe first-year girls basketball coach Christina Pentaudi and her team Monday night after the Red Devils season ended at 22-1 with a 57-48 loss to Carroll in a D-II district semifinal at Tecumseh High School.
And thirty minutes later, emotions were still running high — particularly for seniors Kenna Smith, Ashley Mader, Rachel Wildermuth, Katie Hemmelgarn and Corinn Siefring.
“They weren’t ready for it to end,” Pentaudi said. “And I am still a little emotional about it too. It is amazing legacy they leave for future players in the program, but they didn’t want to end.”
Making doubly-difficult was Tipp was in control for two-plus quarters against Carroll team that advanced to the final four a year ago and is determined to get back.
With Rachel Wildermuth scoring 10 points in the first half and Katie Hemmelgarn adding six in the second quarter, Tipp led 26-17 at the break and Hemmelgarn scored the first four points of the second half to make it 30-17.
“I told the girls at halftime that they were going to see more pressure (in the second half) and trapping,” Pentaudi said. “That Carroll was going to have to do something because they were down by nine points.”
And when Carroll did, the battle-tested team that plays in the GCL gained momentum and Tipp could never get it stopped.
The Pirates outscored the Red Devils 40-18 the rest of the way.
“We go up against them (GCL teams) every year in the tournament,” Pentaudi said. “I thought this year’s team was prepared for that. We wanted to stop Carroll from getting to the basket. We knew they had some great shooters, but they probably made more (3-pointers) tonight than they normally do.”
Tipp still led 34-31 going to the fourth quarter, but when Megan Leraas and Sydney Franklin hit back-to-back 3-pointers, Carroll took its first lead and stretched it to 38-34 with 7:00 to go.
Smith answered with a big 3-pointer for Tipp to cut the deficit to 38-37, but Takierra Robinson hit another 3-pointer for Carroll to make it 41-37 and Tipp scored just one point until Olivia Spiller hit a 3-pointer with 1:18 to go.
That would only cut the deficit to 48-41 and Carroll put the game away from the line.
“Carroll has a lot of seniors too,” Pentaudi said. “And they are very good defensively.”
Tipp also missed multiple point blank looks in the fourth quarter and was just 2-for-6 from the line in the fourth quarter.
“That (missing open shots) is something that has been a problem throughout the year,” Pentaudi said.
Rachel Wildermuth had 16 points and five rebounds for Tippecnaoe.
Hemmelgarn added 10 points, Smith netted eight points and Ashleigh Mader added seven points.
Sarah Ochs had 18 points, while also forcing a number of turnovvers for Carroll.
Ava Lickliter scored 14 points, Leraas added 11 points and Robinson netted seven points.
Tipp was 17 of 35 from the floor for 49 percent and 10 of 17 from the line for 59 percent.
Carroll was 16 of 34 from the floor for 47 percent and 16 of 20 from the line — all in the second half — for 80 percent.
Tipp won the battle of the boards 17-16 and both teams had 17 turnovers.
“I told them after the game there was nothing I could tell them to make them feel better,” Pentaudi said. “Because, I have been through that (as a player).”
Their legacy speaks for itself.