Tippecanoe’s only senior, Taylor Prall, scored a season-high 23 points, including the game winning lay-up with 5.6 seconds left…the Red Devils kept Versailles’ high-scoring offense in check all night to claim their biggest win of the season.
Tipp City—Games between state-ranked opponents, especially non-league and on Monday nights, sometimes fail to live up to the anticipation.
That was not the case Monday night at Pat Wampler Gymnasium.
Versailles came to town with a record of 13-1, sole possession of first place in the Midwest Athletic Conference, and an offense averaging 60 points a game.
Tippecanoe brought a 10-2 record to the fray, sole possession of first place in the GWOC American North Division, and a stingy defense allowing just 31 points a game.
The Red Devils got an unexpected jolt on offense, and it was just enough to hand the Tigers their second loss on the season.
Taylor Prall, the Red Devils only senior, scored 23 points, 14 more than her season average, and made the game winning lay-up with 5.6 seconds to play to give the Red Devils a hard-earned 46-44 win.
“My shot was just falling tonight,” said Prall with a big smile. “It’s been a while since it has been. Tonight, I was just letting it go and they were falling. But hey, shout-out to my teammates for getting me the ball. This was a team win.”
“Terrific win for our team tonight,” agreed Tippecanoe coach Andy Holderman. “These are the kind of games that you need to get ready for the tournament. Versailles is a quality program, they hustle and execute well. We had some people step up when we needed them too, and that’s always good to see.”
“Our girls really battled tonight,” said Tigers head coach Jacki Stonebraker, now in her 14th season at the helm. “We had some shots that didn’t fall late in the game, but we did a nice job playing good defense.”
Both teams started the game on fire from the three-point line. Prall hit two treys, while Brook Aselege and Cali Stewart each hit one for the Red Devils. Kami McEldowney and Camille Watren each hit a pair from long range for the Tigers and a highly entertaining first quarter ended at 16 apiece.
Both defenses began to settle in during the second quarter, but Prall still had an impact. Her third three of the half gave the Red Devils their first lead at 21-19, and while the Tigers would tie the score three times in the fourth quarter, they would never see the lead again.
Tipp lead 27-23 at the break, then stretched the advantage to eight midway through the third quarter. Prall scored 7 points in the quarter, but the Red Devils only scored 2 additional points in the period.
Versailles isn’t ranked fourth in the state in Division III for no reason, and a 9-1 Tigers run tied the game at 37 early in the fourth quarter. That’s when the tallest Red Devil made her presence felt.
6-1 junior Chloe Schretzman, who saw limited action in the first half, scored off the left block to put the Red Devils up 39-37. After Versailles tied it at 41, it was Schretzman again down low, scoring off the block to give Tippecanoe the lead again.
“That was really good to see,” said Holderman. “We have been preaching getting the ball to her all season, and maybe seeing it work will make us do it more. Sometimes we forget that part of the floor, but it was good to see Chloe come through and hit a couple of shots.”
Stonebraker said the Tigers interior defense was lacking at times.
“I think we could have stood tougher in the post at times. They got a couple of layups and glass points off the back side that we could have had, and that was the difference in the game.”
The Red Devils had possession with less than a minute to play and called a timeout with 17 seconds left to set up the final play.
“We just put that in this morning at practice,” Prall explained with a laugh. “It was just an isolation play. We got the ball over to the wing, and pulled the defense over to the left side of the basket. That left the right side wide open. It worked to perfection.
“It was so exciting. I felt like jumping eight feet in the air after I made that!”
Versailles had one last chance but an attempt at a game winning three from the right corner wasn’t close.
Allison Mader scored 10 points to join Prall in double figures for the Red Devils, while Kami McEldowney led Versailles with 13 while Danielle Winner finished with 12 for the Tigers.
Versailles was 15 of 34 from the floor for 44%, 5 of 11 from the arc for 45% and 9 of 14 from the line, for 64%. Tipp finished 18 of 367 from the field for 49%, made 6 of 14 threes for 43%, and 4 of 7 from the line for 57%.
Versailles enjoyed a 23-14 advantage on the boards, but had a critical 17 turnovers to 12 for the Red Devils.
“Too many turnovers,” Stonebraker concurred. “We were sloppy with the ball. We were sloppy with the ball Saturday against Russia. We had a lot of unforced turnovers, things that we don’t do. I really feel that if we clean those up, we will be a pretty good ballclub.”
“We are bonding really well as a team,” Prall explained. “I think the bond you have off the court makes your team on the court, and we have a super strong bond right now.”
Stonebraker talked about her teams impressive start to the season.
“Our leaders have been together for some time now. We are an uptempo team. If you can run, you can play. Offensively, we just jelled really early this season, and our defense is starting to catch up a little bit. That’s something we need to keep working on.”
Holderman likes what he sees of his still young team.
“We needed a game like this. We still don’t have a lot of game experience after losing eight seniors last year. But we are getting there. Versailles has one of the best programs in the state. They are well coached and do things the right way. This tells our kids that when we do what we are supposed to do, we can play with anyone.”