Two Kaysinger conference basketball teams woke up Saturday with a shot at winning the Tipton Basketball Tournament. However, Smithton’s boys and the hosting Tipton Lady Cardinals were both topped by New Bloomfield – the top seed on its respective brackets.
New Bloomfield 63, Tipton 55
The Lady Cardinals enjoyed a 6-point lead after each of the first two quarters, but lost momentum in the second half of a 63-55 loss to New Bloomfield in the Tipton Tournament final Saturday, Dec. 3.
Tipton head coach Jason Culpepper said the Lady Wildcats outlasted the home team.
“In the first half, we did a really awesome job,” Culpepper said. “In the third quarter, on the defensive end, is where I saw us wear down. We were wearing down. You could see it on our rotations. That was the worst part for me, because, we were still scoring on offense, but, we were not stopping them on defense. All of our rotations were a step short.”
Abby Backes led Tipton with 14 points with a pair of threes. Maddie Eldringhoff and Alyson Brant scored 10 points apiece and Brooklyn Pace added nine.
Brant put the Lady Cardinals up 14-10 with a scoop at the post. Backes pushed the Tipton lead to seven with her first three. Minutes into the second quarter, Brant made it 23-18 Tipton with an identical shake down low.
The Lady Cardinals led 30-24 at half. New Bloomfield helped close the gap with physical on-ball defense. With 1:19 left in the third, Madi Craighead tied the game at 42 with a pair of free throws. She finished with 20 points.
Tipton stayed within five points during the final quarter. After two Backes makes at the charity stripe, Culpepper called time out with 30 seconds to play down 60-55. He said his 30-second plan was to deny Craighead the ball and extend the game.
“Try to hope that they make a mistake,” Culpepper said. “If we get a wide-open three, we’ll take it, but we were looking to get two points every possession right there.”
Tipton (3-1) hosts California 5:30 p.m. Monday.
New Bloomfield 73, Smithton 72
Drew Apsher made a lot of shots in a 28-point performance Saturday, but regretted banking in a last-second free throw against New Bloomfield in the Tipton Tournament Championship.
Down three points with 6.6 seconds to play, Apsher fought for enough space along the perimeter to launch a game-tying shot. Rising to shoot after a shimmy, Apsher was struck in the arm and went to the free throw line for three.
He missed the first, made the second and, after direction to miss the third off the glass, banked in the third attempt to seal a 73-72 loss to the Wildcats.
Smithton head coach Rich Pond was in good humor about instructing his shooter to miss, especially after surviving a similar scenario – a 62-59 win over Jamestown – in the semifinals.
“(Jamestown) had the same situation where they had to miss one, and he threw it under the backboard,” Pond said. “He completely missed. We actually talked about that in practice. If we’re in this situation, get it off the backboard, because at least it’s going to bounce up and give you an opportunity. And, of course, he bounced it off the backboard and it went it. Nothing you can do about that.
“You can’t blame it all on that one free throw, because we missed a several bunnies throughout the game that would have won it for us.”
Apsher started cooking early, and gave Smithton a 10-5 lead with a corner three in the first quarter.
The Wildcat’s full-court press powered a run to produce a lead they would not relinquish. Before halftime, Jalen Martin emerged as the New Bloomfield hot hand. He finished with 34 points on 10 threes.
After Martin hit his eighth shot from beyond the arc, New Bloomfield led 41-29 at half.
The Tigers struggled to close a 6-point gap throughout the second half. Pond said team defense – and keeping an eye on Martin, specifically, were unfulfilled goals in tying the game. The Smithton half of the crowd offered applause when Martin fouled out with 20 seconds to play.
“If (Martin) has an average night, we win,” Pond said.
Nate Walsh scored 16 points for Smithton, while Will Tripp added 15.
Jak Kitchens, who fouled out with 3:16 to play, scored 23 points for New Bloomfield.
Smithton (4-1) travels to Brunswick 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.