Girls basketball: Carroll, Trotwood-Madison headed to district finals

Carroll's Sarah Ochs (right) and Ava Lickliter hug as the Patriots celebrate their 57-48 victory over previously unbeaten Tippecanoe on Monday night at Tecumseh High School Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Carroll's Sarah Ochs (right) and Ava Lickliter hug as the Patriots celebrate their 57-48 victory over previously unbeaten Tippecanoe on Monday night at Tecumseh High School Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

NEW CARLISLE – The Tippecanoe girls basketball team led by 13 points well into the third quarter Monday night. The top-seeded and unbeaten Red Devils seemed destined to win and reach the Division II district final.

Their expected tournament dreams were about to get real.

But second-seeded Carroll didn’t care about Tipp’s dreams. The Patriots, who reached the final four the past two years, weren’t ready to accept a much-shorter-than-usual tournament run.

“This team has a lot of grit,” Carroll coach Cecilia Grosselin said. “I told them before the game: ‘If we get down, don’t give up.’ Because we’ve had several games where we’ve gotten down and been able to fight back.”

The comeback began midway through the third quarter. Megan Leraas’ 3-pointer nine seconds into the fourth quarter capped an 18-3 run and gave Carroll its first lead and the lead for good in a 57-48 victory at Tecumseh High School. The Patriots ended Tipp’s streak of district final appearances at seven.

Senior guard Ava Lickliter and junior guard Sarah Ochs led the comeback with scoring and physical defense.

“They just carried the team on their backs, and said, ‘We’re gonna go for it,’” Grosselin said.

Ochs scored 18, including 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter, and Lickliter ran the offense and scored 14. Leraas added 11.

“I went up to my teammates when we were up by 10 with a minute to go and said, ‘Guys, there’s no way we should lose this,’” Lickliter said.

The Patriots (17-4) will play Cincinnati Summit Country Day (17-4) in a district final Friday at Mason High School. The Patriots have won three district titles in the past four years.

“We were really fortunate today to play a really good team and beat a really good team,” Ochs said. “We’re very lucky to have beat them. It was a great game, and we’re really excited for our district final.”

Tipp (22-1) built its lead with its superior size, going inside to 6-foot Rachel Wildermuth for 16 points and 6-2 Katie Hemmelgarn for 10. But in the second half Carroll collapsed on passes into the post, forcing the ball back outside if Ochs didn’t steal it first.

“She was all over the place,” first-year Tipp coach Christina Pentaudi said. “Anytime the ball went in she was coming out of nowhere and stealing it. And they had really good pressure on our guards and took away some of our key scorers big time.”

Carroll also took away the dreams that Tipp had for a deep tournament run. Pentaudi said the ride to 22-0 was a blast. After the loss, though, Pentaudi knew there was little she could say to make her crying and frustrated players feel better because she remembered how she felt as a player at Tipp after tournament losses.

“This is not something, to be honest, that we were prepared for,” she said. “You’re never prepared for it, but to be this early in the tournament is something that none of us were anticipating no matter who we would’ve faced. We envisioned us going a lot farther, which makes it even harder. To not get out of sectionals is tough knowing the caliber of team that we had.”

Trotwood-Madison freshman Raeven Raye-Redmond puts up a shot in front of Eaton's Olivia Baumann. Trotwood rallied from 17 down to win 68-67 on Monday night at Tecumseh High School. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Trotwood-Madison freshman Raeven Raye-Redmond puts up a shot in front of Eaton's Olivia Baumann. Trotwood rallied from 17 down to win 68-67 on Monday night at Tecumseh High School. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Trotwood-Madison 68, Eaton 67: After his team had broken Eaton’s hearts with a 17-point comeback, Trotwood coach Hank Benton walked to the Eaton bench and shared his heart.

Benton returned to his team a few days ago after a month-long battle with COVID-19. While he was out, the Eaton girls and coach Dave Honhart sent Benton a get-well card.

“That really touched my heart,” Benton said. “I knew they were hurting because of the loss. I knew it wouldn’t ease the pain, but I wanted to let them know my gratitude toward them for wishing me well.”

When the third-seeded Rams (8-5) played Shawnee on Saturday, Benton sat in the stands. He had been back for two practices and decided it was best for his team to continue with assistant Larry Barnes until he had more practice time with the team.

Benton has at least this whole week with his team. The Rams play in the district tournament for the second straight year Friday at Mason High School against the winner of Tuesday night’s game between Alter (15-9) and Valley View (18-5).

The Rams’ full-court pressure defense and the insertion of 5-foot-6 forward Daliyah Dunson in the third quarter sparked the Rams’ comeback. They finally started making open shots and layups. Quantaijah Huffman scored 25 points and Raeven Raye-Redmond had 16 for the Rams.

Olivia Baumann led No. 4 Eaton (10-15) with 20 points.

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