SPRINGFIELD — After the Tippecanoe boys basketball team’s 64-50 win over Graham Tuesday night in Springfield D-II sectional action, Tippecanoe senior Zach Frederick talked about what the win meant basketball wise.
“We are in survive and advance mode right now,” Frederick said. “You just have to find a way to win.”
Tippecanoe, 19-1, will now play Carroll in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday night.
But, in reality, Tuesday was about much more than a basketball game.
“This is a tough day for Ben (Knostman),” Tippecanoe coach Adam Toohey said about his star point guard. “This is the day the Knostman family lost a three-year old girl (a number of years ago), so we always talk about that with the team and rally together for Ben (Knostman).”
“For sure (it is motivation for the team),” he said. “It brings us together as a team. As unfortunate as it (her death) was, it pulls us together as a team.”
And it took everything the Red Devils had against Graham, who closed 13-10.
The Red Devils would open leads only to see the scrappy Falcons rally.
Tipp would lead 16-9, 30-23 and 49-37 at the quarter breaks and was never in serious jeopardy.
The Red Devils played most of the second quarter without Knostman, who had two fouls.
“That is a long time to play without Ben (Knostman),” Toohey said. “Probably, the longest stretch all year.”
Graham would get within 32-29 at one point in the third quarter and was still within striking distance when a key moment occurred.
The Falcons leading scorer Brady King was called for charging fouls on two consecutive possessions and fouled out of the game with 10 points.
“I thought we did a great job defensively on him,” Toohey said. “I had never seen him (Brady King) live before. He is a big, strong kid. He is tough to handle. And he is physical. I can see how he could get two charging fouls like that.”
Tippecanoe opened the to double digits at the end of the third quarter and held on from there.
Frederick led Tippecanoe with 21 points.
Gavin Garlitz scored 12, Knostman netted eight and added near double-digit assists.
“I don’t know the exact number,” Toohey said. “It is usually around nine.”
Cole Coppock added six points.
Eric Goddard led Graham with 12 points.
Bode McGuire scored eight and Zack VanScoy added seven points.
Now, the top seed Red Devils play seventh seed Carroll. The Pirates knocked off second seed Dunbar 51-38 Tuesday in the second game.
“I am looking forward to seeing them play,” Toohey said before the game. “I know the Carroll coach. He does a great job with the program.”
And the Red Devils will be back in “Survive and Advance” mode Friday, after a game that was about much more than basketball Tuesday night.