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By MICHELLE GARMON
Tribune Sports Editor
GAS CITY — It took Tipton 29 and a half minutes to start clicking on all cylinders in Tuesday night’s varsity girls basketball game against Mississinewa here. But once they kicked it into gear, the Class 2A No. 3-ranked Lady Devils dominated and came home with a 75-65 overtime victory over the Indians.
Junior Abby Smith torched the Lady Devils for a game-high 24 points, knocking down six 3-pointers. Half of those long-range baskets came in the fourth quarter. Her second of the quarter and fifth of the game put Mississinewa up 55-47 with 4:31 remaining in the period and had Tipton coach Chad Wetz calling his second timeout in a minute and a half.
Following the timeout, Tipton’s Kaiya Money meshed two free throws and the Lady Devils went to a full-court man-to-man press that included using the defender of the in-bounder to double team Mississinewa senior Mia Catey. The Indians beat the press the first time as Megan Stanley got behind it for a layup and a 57-49 lead with 3:27 remaining. Abbi Parker scored for the Lady Devils, who then locked down the defense. Money came up with a steal and passed off to Hallie Wolfe for a layup. Following another Indians’ turnover, Ella Wolfe banked in a 10-footer to pull Tipton within 57-55 with 2:19 remaining in regulation.
Tipton (13-1) came up with another turnover, however, Ella Wolfe was called for double dribble as she drove into the lane. Wetz disagreed with the call and received a technical. Smith, however, made just 1 of 2 free throws and Ella Wolfe stole the inbounds pass and went in for a layup and the lead was down to 58-57 with 1:49 still on the clock. Smith banked in her sixth 3 of the night to up the lead to 61-57.
Parker sank 1 of 2 free throws and Ella Wolfe had two more steals that resulted in free throws. The senior guard knocked down 3 of 4 to even the score at 61-all with :40.4 left to play in regulation. Mississinewa (5-11) whittled the clock down to :11 and called its final timeout in regulation. Hallie Wolfe came up with a steal with just under :09 on the clock and Tipton got a timeout with :06.5 left but the Lady Devils were unable to get a shot off and the game went to overtime.
The Indians won the tip and Stanley scored a layup off the same back-door cut that burned Tipton’s defense repeatedly in the second half. Her bucket gave the Indians a 63-61 lead. But the Lady Devils dominated the rest of the overtime period, outscoring the Indians 14-2.
Parker answered Stanley’s basket by driving in for a layup. Ella Wolfe’s layup gave the Lady Devils their first lead, 65-63, since they led 4-0 early in the first quarter. Parker followed by getting a five-second call on defense and Tipton cashed in with Ashlee Schram scoring inside. Tipton’s defense then forced a five-second violation against Mississinewa on the ensuing inbounds play and Money made them pay by cashing in two free throws to extend Tipton’s lead to 69-63 with 1:37 left to play.
Jaci Crick scored at the other end for Mississinewa but Tipton closed out the game with 6-for-6 shooting from the line. Parker, Rylea Wetz and Money accounted for those six free throws to write the 75-65 final.
“We are fortunate to leave Gas City with a win,” coach Wetz said. “We did not really play up to our potential until the last 3 minutes of the fourth quarter. Once we did we showed our true identity again, but it is sometimes frustrating to wait so long to play the way we know we should.
“Give a shout out to Ole Miss though. They came looking for an upset and played really well. We played well in the overtime and put them away like we should have earlier.”
The Lady Devils finished the night 23 of 28 at the free-throw line, led by Money’s 8-for-8 performance. Tipton’s prowess at the line, full-court man-to-man defense over the final 7:30 that forced the Indians into 12 of their 21 turnovers, bench play and balanced scoring were the keys to victory.
Schram led five Lady Devils in double figures with 19 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds and had five steals. Ella Wolfe followed with 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and four steals. Money contributed 13 points, six boards, four assists and five steals off the bench. Oliva Spidell added 11 points and six rebounds, while Parker finished with 10 points. Hallie Wolfe added five points and two steals and Rylea Wetz rounded out Tipton’s scoring with two points. She also had three rebounds and a big steal in OT.
Ella Wolfe and Schram scored back-to-back baskets to open the game but then Mississinewa outscored Tipton 13-4. Catey converted a three-point play and knocked down a 3-ointer before Stanley scored to put the Indians up 8-4. Smith’s first trey of the evening upped the advantage to 13-7. Parker’s basket with :04 left had Tipton within 13-10 at the quarter break.
Smith’s second 3 started off the second period. Tipton was within two points on three different occasions, the last coming on Money’s 3-pointer at the 3:29 mark of the second quarter. Ole Miss then went on an 8-1 run capped by Catey’s layup that extended the lead to 29-20 with :05.6 left. Hallie Wolfe, however, threw up a 36-footer at the buzzer that found nothing but net to get Tipton within 29-23 at halftime.
Schram began the third quarter by converting a three-point play. She added three more buckets to score nine of her 19 points in the third period and Spidel scored nine of her 11 as Tipton outscored Ole Miss 20-16 to get within 45-43 entering the fourth quarter. Catey and Smith combined to score 10 points for the Indians, who also got a pair of back-door layups from Stanley.
Money knocked down a 16-footer as the fourth quarter got underway to knot the score at 45-all. But Stanley again converted a back-door layup to start a 10-2 run that included another layup by Stanley and two 3s by Smith to give the hosts a 55-45 with 4:14, forcing Wetz to take his second timeout and of the quarter. From that point on, the Lady Devils controlled the game.
In addition to Smith’s 24, the Indians got 17 from Catey and 14 from Stanley. Catey pulled down a team-high nine boards. Ole Miss shot 8 of 15 from 3-point range, led by Smith’s 6-for-11 showing. The Indians, who made all eight free throws in the first half, were just 1 of 4 in the second half.