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Phillips’ 3s lift Tipton over Tri-Central 30-28

By MICHELLE GARMON

SHARPSVILLE — The smallest player on the court came up with the two biggest baskets of the game here on Friday night.

Abby Phillips swished a pair of baseline 3-pointers in the final minute and a half to lift Class 2A No. 17-ranked Tipton to a 30-28 victory over county rival Tri-Central here on Thursday night.

Karly Leininger’s 3-pointer put the Trojans up 28-24 with two minutes remaining in the game. But Tipton (2-0) countered with a pair of inside-out 3-pointers.

Following a timeout, the Blue Devils worked the ball around and then inside to 6-3 senior Ashlee Schram, who passed back outside to an open Phillips, who then drained the 3-pointer from the left baseline. Forty-five seconds later, Tipton again went inside to Schram, who passed back out to an open Phillips. The 5-foot-4 senior guard swished her second 3, this one from the right baseline to put the Devils up 30-28 with :42 remaining.

The Trojans’ Gracie Grimes missed two shots in the final 9.2 seconds. After her 15-footer rimmed out, she got the ball back but her 3 at the buzzer was off and the Blue Devils had their second win in a 48-hour span.

“Down the stretch, we had seniors step up and play the way we want to,” Tipton coach Lela Gillmann said. “Ashlee blocked a few shots that really started the momentum. Abby Phillips knocked down some key shots with confidence. Senior Lacie Logan was ready to go and play hard defense down the stretch too.”

The two 3s from Phillips, who sat out last season, were just her second and third shot attempts of the game as she missed a 3-point attempt in the first quarter and was 0 for 3 from the field in Wednesday’s 44-24 win at Lebanon.

“I’m not sure she’s hit a shot all year,” Tri-Central coach Matt Corn said. “Kudos to her for knocking those down. We didn’t play with a lot of poise the last minute. Even the possession right out of the timeout, we made about three mistakes on that possession. That’s just anxiety, not understanding the moment, not being calm in the moment. That hurt us tonight.”

Although the temperatures were warm outside and inside the gym, both teams suffered from ice-cold shooting for much of the game, especially the first half. The Lady Devils hit just 4 of 19 field goals (21%) but picked it up a bit in the second half, hitting 7 of 18 shots (39%). They were 5 of 15 from 3-point range and 3 for 4 at the line.

The Trojans (1-3) were 5 of 20 (25%) in the first half and just 4 of 18 (22%) in the second half. They also were 5 of 15 from beyond the arc and knocked down 5 of 7 free throws.

Hallie Wolfe’s 3-pointer and Schram’s basket inside gave Tipton the early 5-0 lead. Leininger’s two 3s put TC on top 6-5. Schram scored inside and Kaiya Money nailed a 3-pointer to give the Blue Devils a 10-6 advantage. But Natalie Newcom’s basket cut the lead to 10-8 at the quarter break.

Tipton then experienced a long scoring drought that encompassed the entire second period. After Money’s 3 at the 2:02 mark of the first quarter, the Lady Devils did not score again until the 7:48 mark of the third quarter. But the Trojans managed just six points, including Newcom’s bucket. TC scored just four points in the second period, getting buckets from Allie Younce and Megan Conner to take a 12-10 lead into halftime.

Allison Powell’s basket ended Tipton’s drought and started a 9-2 run. Schram scored the final four points of the run, and the lead grew to 19-14. But Ariana Jankoviak hit a 3 with seven seconds left in the quarter to cut the lead to 19-17.

The Trojans scored the first three points of the fourth quarter with Younce’s bucket giving TC a 20-19 lead. Tipton regained the lead on Powell’s two free throws. Abby Hoback’s 3 gave the lead back to the Trojans, 23-21, with 4:32 left to play. Schram’s offensive rebound bucket knotted the score.

Newcom drained two free throws that put TC up 25-23. Money then hit 1 of 2 free throws to close the gap to 25-24 with 2:37 remaining and set up the exciting final two minutes.

“We need to stop playing ranked teams,” Corn said. “It’s not easy for us. I’m perfectly fine with that. I’ve always said we’re not going to drive an hour to an hour and a half just to go play somebody we know we’re going to beat. We’re going to play the teams regardless of class, regardless of talent that are in the area. We’re going to fight for 32 minutes.

“I thought our fight was really good tonight, I thought our rebounding was really good tonight. We’re always undersized. The fact we’ve been able to outrebound essentially three really good teams in these first four is a good start to that.”

The Trojans won the battle of the boards 33-24 but the Lady Devils won the turnover battle, committing just nine while TC finished with 15.

Schram was the only player to score in double figures with 10 points. She also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds and blocked six shots — four coming in the fourth quarter. She dished out three assists and had a steal while playing all 32 minutes. The senior was often double- and triple-teamed when she got the ball.

Money added seven points, three assists and a steal. Phillips had six points, two rebounds and two assists. Powell added four points, four rebounds and two steals. Wolfe rounded out Tipton’s scoring with three points, while also coming up with three steals and two rebounds.

Leininger led the Trojans with nine points. She also had five rebounds, two steals and two assists. Younce and Newcom each had four points with Younce pulling down six boards and Newcom five. Grimes, Hoback and Jankoviak had three points each. Grimes also had two rebounds, three assists and a steal, while Jankoviak grabbed five rebounds. Conner rounded out TC’s scoring with two points, while also grabbing three rebounds.

“We’ve got to use this game as a learning experience. The team is not satisfied with that win. They are ready to put in work to clean up their play and to grow,” Gillmann said.

The Blue Devils host Indianapolis Park Tudor at 2 p.m. Saturday in a varsity only contest. Tri-Central also is back in action on Saturday, traveling to Lewis Cass for a 6 p.m. varsity only contest.