By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
NEW CARLISLE — Tippecanoe girls basketball coach Andy Holderman knows how hard it is to beat a team for a third time in one year.
Monday night, though, his Red Devils eased his fears right from the start.
“All in all, coming out here and playing a team for the third time, beating them by 20 the first two times, it’s hard to get up. And that third time always scares me,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, we came out of the gate hot, and we came out in the third quarter hot.”
Tippecanoe scored on a break off the opening tip to kick off an 8-0 run to begin the game and picked apart Greenville’s defense all night long, all while holding the dangerous Haleigh Behnken in check defensively as the top-seeded Devils put away the No. 4 Green Wave 56-37 in the Division II district semifinal Monday night at Tecumseh High School.
Tippecanoe won its 15th straight, improved to 21-4 on the season and will face another top seed in Roger Bacon — a 52-22 winner over No. 6 Taylor in the Walnut Hills sectional — at 7 p.m. Friday in Mason. And while the Red Devils will make their seventh straight district final appearance, Greenville finished the season at 14-11.
And the Devils knew that, to get back to the district final, they needed to contain Greenville’s Behnken, the District 9 Player of the Year.
“The whole design here was to make sure we focused on her,” Holderman said of Behnken. “If you look at the stats, they don’t lie. Scoring 19.5 points per game, and the next in line is 8.9, so the focus was to take her out of the game — and then we just needed to take care of the basketball on our end.”
Tippecanoe did just that, too, holding Behnken to only three points in the first half, leading 18-6 after one and 24-12 at the break. Previously, she had scored 12 and 13 points against the Devils in the two regular season meetings this year, both Tippecanoe wins, 49-27 and 45-26. It was only one point better than her season-low total of seven points, which came against Butler, and it was only the second time all year she was held to single digits.
On the other end, the Devils took care of business, spreading the ball around in a solid first quarter. Tippecanoe committed a number of second-quarter turnovers, though, and could not grow its lead past 12 heading into halftime.
“It’s one of those where I thought we played pretty well. We had a few moments where we had some lag for a few minutes, where we got a little sloppy with the ball,” Holderman said.
In the third, though, Tippecanoe was back to its typical efficiency, starting out the quarter on a 9-2 run and outscoring Greenville 19-14 to take a 43-26 lead into the fourth quarter. The Devils led by as many as 23 at 53-30 before subbing out their starters with two minutes to play, and they held on for the win from there.
Three Devils ended up in double figures, with Kendall Clodfelter leading the way with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists, and Rachel Wildermuth added 13 points and seven rebounds in addition to guarding Behnken most of the night.
Katie Salyer added 10 points and six rebounds, Katie Hemmelgarn had eight points, Ashleigh Mader had seven points and five assists, Kenna Smith had three points and Hannah Wildermuth had two points.
All told, the Devils had 15 assists as a team on 22 total field goals while only committing 10 turnovers on the night.
“We’ve been doing a pretty good job of taking care of the basketball, especially the last half of the season,” Holderman said. “We’ve got a real unselfish group, and that’s fantastic, sharing the ball and getting the easier shot, making that next pass. And that’s something we pride ourselves in. We break down film, in practice I’ll keep quizzing the girls on what the better option was, trying to see what they’re seeing and trying to help them see the better shot.”
Morgan Gilbert led the Wave with 11 points, Behnken had eight points and four rebounds, Libby McKinney had five points, Abbie Yoder had three points and five rebounds, Nyesha Wright, Grace Shaffer and Skylar Fletcher each had three points and Lilly Hayes had one point.
All of which puts the Devils back in the district final one more time against an 18-7 Roger Bacon team that will enter the matchup having won four straight and 11 of its last 12.
“It never gets old, that’s for sure,” Holderman said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us against Bacon, though. We’ll get home and enjoy this win, we’ll put together a gameplan and hope for the best.”
• D-IV Sectional
Franklin Monroe 43,
Troy Christian 23
BROOKVILLE — Third-seeded Troy Christian kept things close for a half in a rematch against No. 2 Franklin Monroe in the Division IV district semifinal Monday at Brookville High School, but in the end the Jets pulled away for a 43-23 victory.
The Eagles trailed 10-8 after one and were within one late in the first half before the Jets (25-2) — who beat Troy Christian 43-22 back on Feb. 1 late in the regular season — scored the final four points of the half to go up 21-16, then outscored the Eagles 12-2 in the third to take a 33-18 lead into the final quarter, putting the game away from there.
Corina Conley led all scorers with 23 points for Franklin Monroe, which advanced to face Fort Loramie in the district final at 3 p.m. Saturday at Troy High School.
Sarah Earhart led the Eagles with nine points as Troy Christian’s season ended at 19-5.
Contact Josh Brown at jb[email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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