By Josh Brown
NEW CARLISLE — The majority of the time, when a team is forced to rally from a deficit as big as 17 points, they spend all of their energy closing the gap but run out before taking control.
Saturday, Tippecanoe was exceptional.
Sophomore Allison Mader stripped the ball from Carroll’s Amanda Schroeder as she went in for a potential game-tying bucket, leading to a score by Taylor Prall on the other end, then Mader took another steal in for a layup to give the Red Devils a six-point lead with less than 30 seconds to go, completing a 60-51 come-from-behind victory in the Division II girls basketball sectional championship Saturday at Tecumseh High School.
When gut-check time came, Tippecanoe (20-5) fed off of the crowd and each other — and when Made converted a three-point play to give the Devils a 50-47 lead with four minutes to play, turning the tables on what had been a 33-17 Carroll lead in the second quarter, it reached a fever pitch.
“Everyone was cheering, the adrenaline was going. Everyone was into it,” said Mader, who banged her hands on the floor once she realized her shot had gone in after she had been knocked down. “When I got that layup, I was just so happy.
“The whole game, we just couldn’t get over the hump. In the third, all of us starters were gassed. But we got a little break, we’ve been getting into shape — and our energy was just so good. Our crowd got us going.”
“Everyone played a role,” senior Aubrey Cox said. “We played with heart, and we played together. None of us wanted the season to be over.”
Tippecanoe led by as many as five late at 52-47 before Schroeder converted a three-point play to get the Patriots (16-9) back to within two. After a pair of missed front ends by Tippecanoe, Carroll had the ball with less than a minute to play and a chance to tie.
Schroeder — who led the Pats with 20 points and nine rebounds — made a move to take the ball up for a shot, but Mader stripped it out of her hands on the way up.
“It was kind of a risk because they’d been calling a lot of fouls at that point, but it just came naturally,” Mader said. “She held the ball out, I saw it and went for it. I knocked it out of her hands, and luckily I got all ball.”
A scramble for the loose ball went all the way out to midcourt, where Cox dove to the floor and tipped it to Sammie Rowland — who hit a wide-open Taylor Prall for a layup that gave the Devils a four-point lead and nearly brought the house down.
“You’ve got to do that,” Cox said of diving to the floor. “You don’t want to lose. Cassidy (Wasson) was diving on the floor for it, I dove on the floor and got it to Sammie, who was diving on the floor. We just all played with so much heart.”
Tippecanoe coach Andy Holderman, who had been trying to call timeout while no one had possession, was also glad to see how the play worked out.
“I was glad they didn’t give me the timeout when I was asking for it,” he said with a laugh. “In the first half, Carroll was getting all the 50-50 balls, all the hustle plays. There at the end of the game, they’d blown a lead and you could tell they were down a bit. We gained a lot of momentum, and that stretch played in our favor.”
“I’ve never seen so much energy out of us,” Prall said. “At the half, you could tell everyone was kind of down. But coach came in and gave a spectacular speech. Everyone played a role, and everyone played amazing. It was just amazing.”
And after hitting that shot, Prall and the Devils knew they had the game in hand — and couldn’t let go.
“I definitely knew (we had it won),” Prall said. “But we all knew we couldn’t give up. We kept it going and pushing to the last minute.”
Mader kept that momentum rolling, stealing the ball again on the ensuing possession and taking it in for a layup that made the score 56-50 with 18 seconds to go, and she and Rowland both hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to put away the Devils’ third straight sectional title.
“It took all of us today,” Holderman said. “There was not a single person that got on the floor that didn’t contribute. We just kept telling the girls to attack the basket, and they did a good job of that.
“Once we got down by 17, we broke the game into segments and told them to just win the next segment. We got back to within 11 at the half (36-25), wanted to get it to within five or six after three (44-38). We knew we couldn’t get it all back at once.”
Mader scored 18 of her game-high 20 points in the second half and added four steals, Cox finished with 13 points and eight rebounds and Rowland had 12 points. Prall scored eight, Mikenna Varvel hit a pair of big 3s and added six points and Wasson had one point, four rebounds and six assists.
Kate Hickey scored 12 of her 13 points in the first quarter for Carroll, Ellie Rumme added nine points, Olivia Seymour scored seven and Maggie Root had two.
Tippecanoe advanced to the district final for the third straight season and will play at 9 p.m. Friday at Mason against the winner of Monday’s game between McNicholas — the team the Devils beat in last year’s district final — and Mariemont.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.