Feb. 15—Tipton's girls basketball team took seven losses in the regular season. Three were by three points, another was in overtime. The biggest loss Tipton took was by 12 points to a Class 3A team.
Tipton hasn't taken any losses since January. All those experiences just made the Blue Devils stronger.
The Blue Devils took down two Top-10 opponents Saturday to win the Class 2A Frankton Regional. First, they beat No. 6 Frankton 57-44 in the semifinals, then they topped No. 7 Clinton Prairie 48-35 in the final. They'd lost by three points to both those teams in the regular season.
"The regional was super exciting because I guess we were a bit like the Avengers," Western coach Chad Wetz said. "We had lost close contests to those teams and a few others like them throughout the season and we preach to each other that that made us stronger for when it really mattered — and that's tournament time.
"Our team chemistry actually got stronger when we lost one-possession games to Frankton and Prairie in January. We learned from our mistakes. We evaluated our film, we went back to the drawing board so to speak, and I felt like we were more prepared for the regional run."
The biggest factor in Tipton's regional triumph was its defense. Frankton hit just 13 of 34 shots from the field, including just 2 of 11 from 3-point land.
Next, Tipton held Clinton Prairie to a miserable night of shooting in the regional final. Prairie hit just 11 of 45 shots overall and 5 of 26 from 3-land.
"There's no doubt about it that this tournament was our best defensive effort against such great players, against both of those winning, top-ranked teams," Wetz said. "In the morning game we held [Frankton] center Chloee Thomas to five points and she'd just come off an amazing run at the sectional where she won the [title] game for them.
"And the second game, [CP's] Tynlie Neal only had 12 and no one else was in double digits. And to hold two quality teams to 44 and 35 really shows that our defense has been probably our most improved attribute."
In the semifinals, center Ashlee Schram led Tipton with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Forward Olivia Spidell had 15 points, and guard Ella Wolfe 13. Guard Abbi Parker added eight rebounds.
In the championship against Prairie, Ella Wolfe scored 16 points, Schram 10, Parker nine, Spidel seven, and guard Hallie Wolfe six. Schram had nine rebounds.
"We, as a team, are really hard to scout because on any given game any player can step up and do something that no one is expecting," Wetz said. "Obviously Ashlee Schram leads us in scoring and rebounding, and Ella Wolf leads us in scoring and floor leadership, but in game one Olivia Spidel stepped up and hit 4 of 5 from the field and 4 of 4 from the free throw line and scored 15 points, her season high. And no one from Frankton was expecting that."
Wetz also pointed to a contributor who didn't score in the first game, but was invaluable on the defensive end.
"Macy Earl drew the assignment of stopping Chloee Thomas in the first game," Wetz said. "Holding their all-state player to five points is a contribution that you just don't see in the box score."
The unranked Blue Devils beat two Top-10 foes and are regional champions for the third time in the program's history.
"We had a humongous feeling of satisfaction because inside our huddle, inside our locker room, we believed that we're the best team in the regional, but we knew we had to prove it to everybody on the outside. To achieve those, literally those believes and dreams was a super satisfying moment for the coaches and the teammates combined," Wetz said.
Now the Blue Devils (19-7) find themselves with a new challenge. They'll play No. 10 North Judson (20-5) at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Logansport Semistate. If Tipton wins, it'll be the first semistate title for either the girls or boys hoops squads.
"We're excited about the opportunity to take a step that no Tipton basketball team has stepped into and we're going to be completely prepared and give North Judson our best shot," Wetz said.
BLUE RIVER 59, TC 46
Tri-Central got behind quickly and trailed by double digits at every stop in a loss to No. 6 Blue River in the semifinal round of the Class A Wes-Del Regional. The Vikings (22-4) took control with a 27-9 first quarter, led 39-22 at halftime, and 51-34 after three quarters.
Senior guards Kenadie Fernung and Brittany Temple led TC in their final games. Fernung scored 19 points and Temple 11. Karley Leininger added nine points. Gracie Grimes led TC on the glass with 11 rebounds, Leininger took eight and Temple seven.
The loss ended a turnaround season for Tri-Central. The Trojans finished 15-9 after going 9-17 the season before.
Co-No. 13 Northfield went on to win the title, beating Blue River 60-44 in the championship.