A controversial basket followed by a disastrous third quarter was more than Tippecanoe could overcome in a home loss to league-leading Tecumseh.
Tipp City – Nine Minutes, eleven seconds.
That’s how long the Tippecanoe Red Devils went without a basket to start the second half Friday night at Pat Wampler Gymnasium.
Nine minutes and eleven seconds as a five point lead late in the first half turned into an eleven point deficit to one of the better teams in the area, the Tecumseh Arrows.
With all that, the gutty, never say die Red Devils almost delivered the comeback of the season, falling just short 62-60 in Central Buckeye Conference action.
“Another one possession game,” said Tippecanoe coach Joel Visser, after the Red Devils played their 11th game decided by 6 points or less. “We turned the ball over ten times in the second half and got away from what we had to do to handle their pressure. They picked up the pressure in the third quarter and we didn’t stick with what we needed to do.”
“It’s good to come over here and get a win,” said veteran Tecumseh coach Roger Culbertson. “It was competitive all night. We played hard, they played hard, and I thought we played well throughout. I think we left too many guys open in the second half, but we figured a way to escape. Doesn’t matter if its one point, two points, or 20. It’s always good to win. And to clinch a tie for the league title here feels good, that’s for sure.”
After missing their first nine shots and committing six turnovers to start the second half, the Red Devils made 10 of their last 15 from the floor, including 4 of 6 behind the arc. The lead, and outstanding Tecumseh free throw shooting in the second half, proved to be too much to overcome, however, and the Red Devils fell to 10-7 with their third straight loss.
A controversial play right before half-time changed the momentum of the game. Trailing 32-29 with four tenths of a second remaining, the Arrows had the ball under their own basket. Somehow, sophomore Darius Quisenberry, who would score a game high 27 points, got loose in the lane, caught the in-bound pass, and scored, all before time expired. The Red Devils protested vehemently that the basket should not count, but the call stood and Tipp led just 32-31 after a terrific first half.
“We were a little deflated going into the locker-room after that,” acknowledged Visser. “I didn’t dwell on it though, because we still had a one-point lead. They increased their pressure in the third quarter and we had to be ready for that. We just didn’t handle it well in the third quarter.
“Our assistants were pretty fired up at first,” Visser continued, referring to the end of the half basket. “It should have been a tip with that much time left, instead of a catch and shoot. I don’t think it should have counted but you know what? We shouldn’t have allowed it to happen, so it’s on us either way.”
The third quarter was an offensive disaster for the Red Devils, who shot 54% from the floor in the first half. They went 0-8 in the quarter and turned the ball over 6 times. Their defense kept it close, as Tecumseh managed just 3 field goals in the quarter.
“We talked about increasing our defensive intensity at halftime, but I talked about it in the first quarter, too,” laughed Culbertson. “Darius did a good job of leading the way in the third quarter and the kids feed off that.”
In fact, the Arrows, now 15-3 overall and 7-1 in the Kenton Division of the CBC, managed just 6 field goals in the entire second half. You can’t defend free throws, however, and the Arrows hit 18 of 22 at the line in the second half to seal the win.
Down 51-38, the Red Devils began an almost epic comeback. They went on a 14-5 run, and when Zach Wildermuth hit his second three of the quarter, the Red Devils trailed 56-52 with 1:52 to play.
Tippecanoe missed a layup on its next possession that would have cut the margin to two with a minute and a half to play. Malik and Darius Quisenberry then hit 5 of 6 free throws for the visitors, and that made back to back three-pointers by Joe Tesch in the final 11 seconds too little, too late.
“We need to do a better job of expanding the lead,” said Culbertson. “We got the lead to double figures, then took a bad shot. They hit a three, got a layup, and suddenly they are back in the game. That happened to us the last time we played Tipp and has really been a problem for us all season.”
“It’s not a matter of effort, it’s a matter of execution, of doing the little things for 32 minutes,” stressed Visser. “We didn’t execute in the third quarter and that was the difference. They made free throws down the stretch, which is what good teams do. Give them credit. That’s a good basketball team.
The Red Devils, who have no one in double figures on the season, got 14 apiece from Tesch and Wildermuth. Each had eight points in the final quarter.
Senior Malik Quisenberry added 16 points for Tecumseh, and was 12 of 15 from the free throw line.
The Red Devils finished at 48 % from the field, while Tecumseh was also at 48%. Tipp out-rebounded the Arrows 25-20, and had 16 turnovers to Tecumseh’s 13.
The difference was at the line. Tecumseh was 21 of 27 from the stripe for 78% while the Red Devils were 10 of 16 for 63%. Oddly, the two Quisenberrys shot every one of those 27 free throws for Tecumseh.
“A positive for us tonight is that we shot the ball better,” said Visser. “We didn’t do enough against the two Quisenberrys to keep them out of the paint and they made things happen. Our kids are fighting hard. It’s not that they don’t want to win or don’t care. They are playing hard, just falling a little short.”
All the Red Devils needed was one more basket…In nine minutes, eleven seconds!
(Edited by Julie McMaken Wright)