Making the one hour drive south to Mason is becoming an annual tradition for the Tippecanoe girls’ basketball team. Friday night, the Red Devils made yet another trip to the district championship game, and for the third consecutive season, they brought home the gold.
Cali Stewart led three scorers in double figures with 14 points, as the Red Devils survived a tough Bellbrook team, and won the district title with a 43-40 win over the Eagles.
Tippecanoe advanced into last night’s regional semifinal game, a rematch against two-time defending state champion Alter, that was played at Springfield High School. The winner of last night’s game returns to Springfield in the regional finals at 7:30.
“What a great win,” Tipp coach Andy Holderman said. “Coming into this game, I figured if we could handle their pressure we could be ok. We made it a little closer than we needed to, but Bellbrook is a quality program. We were fortunate to be on the winning end tonight.”
Tipp enjoyed a solid opening quarter leading 11-4 after the first period of play. Three’s from Allison Mader and Stewart set the tone, as they took the early lead.
The Red Devils continued to keep control of the throughout the second period, as Mader contributed seven points in the period and Tipp pushed their lead to double figures before they settled for a 23-14 lead at the break.
“When we were able to get the ball to the middle and look opposite, I thought that was a hole in their defense,” Holderman said. “It took a total team effort tonight.”
The third period saw the Red Devils answer everything that Bellbrook was throwing at them. On every possession that Bellbrook scored, Tipp countered as they set up the fourth quarter in what was a challenge down the stretch for the Red Devils.
Bellbrook scored four quick points to open the fourth period, closing their deficit to only three points but Stewart stepped up like she has most of the season, hitting a big three to stretch their lead back out to 35-29 with 5:40 left.
Belbrook cur the Tipp lead to four with 2:41 left, then as they hit a big three with one minute remaining, the Tipp lead was 38-37, as Tipp was trying to hang on.
Tipp senior Taylor Prall connected on a one-and-one to give Tipp the three point lead, then Stewart added a free throw to make it 41-37 with 20 seconds left. Bellbrook standout guard Cassidy Hofacker connected on a three to again cut it to one but Stewart hit a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left and Bellbrok could not get a good shot off.
In addition to Stewart, Prall added 13 and Mader scored 10.