MENTONE — Down 16 points with 16 minutes, LaVille High School head basketball coach Michael Edison felt like his Lancers were climbing Mount Everest.
The Lancers, though, were up for the challenge that Edison put out in front of them to not only erase the deficit but also pick up a hard-earned 64-61 overtime victory at Tippecanoe Valley Friday.
"I don't know if it was a hill," said Edison when asked about the situation his club faced to get back in the game. "It seemed like Mount Everest.
"It was a big mountain we had to climb," continued Edison. "We just knew we had to battle one possession at a time."
And one possession at a time is exactly how the Lancers started their comeback.
The third quarter didn't start out exactly as Edison would have liked with senior post player Austin Dove picking up his third foul just 22 seconds into the period.
But Edison stayed the course to see how things would pan out.
LaVille started the third period with pressure defense and would soon turn a 34-18 deficit into just a five-point hole following Andrew Dill's 3-pointer from the wing. Tippecanoe Valley coach Chad Patrick would call a timeout to try and stem the Lancer tide, but the Lakeville visitors would continue to be relentless.
Dill stole a pass attempt by Rex Kirchenstein and pushed the ball ahead to Dove for an easy lay-up to make it 34-31 with 2:49 left in the stanza.
The Vikings took a 35-31 lead after Tanner Trippiedi hit one of two free throws before Alec Coleman pulled LaVille within two. Dove then assisted Connor Wieczorek to tie the game at 35-35 with 0:56 left in the third and that's how the period would end.
It was a combined team effort as LaVille outscored Tippecanoe Valley 19-3 in the period. Dove, Wieczorek, Booby Good, Coleman, and Dill as five LaVille players got in on the scoring act.
"We scored five unanswered there to start the second half and I just felt we got something going here," said Edison, who watched his squad begin to make its run. "Who knows if that would carry over or continue on, but I did see some things and boy we had a lot of guys just make some big plays and play some big minutes. It was everybody stepping up together and pulling their weight and doing their job.
"If I break the film down there are a lot of things that we did poorly and a lot of good things we did as well and to just find a way," continued Edison. "Sometimes you find a way . . . your back is against the wall and you do what you can do."
Both Tippecanoe Valley and LaVille would post 16 points each in the fourth quarter and the host Vikings had a chance to win the game, but LaVille's defense stepped up and forced overtime with the score knotted at 51-51.
Valley's Dawson Perkins hit one of two free throws to start the overtime session, but Dill took a pass from Wieczorek and drilled a 3-pointer to put LaVille up 56-54 with 3:56 remaining in OT.
Perkins would tie the score at 56-all, only to be answered by Wieczorek's lone triple of the contest from top of the key to put LaVille up 59-56 with 2:14 left.
LaVille kept the pressure on and added to the lead as Wieczorek hit another key bucket to make it 62-58 with 37 seconds left.
Paul Leasure kept things interesting with a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 62-61, but Jimmy Fischer was fouled on the ensuing possession and hit both tosses to make it a three-point game.
Valley did have a shot as the OT buzzer sounded but it was off the mark for the final margin.
"I believed in our guys," said Edison of his club. "I just noticed several times in the first half where body mannerisms was not bad, but it wasn't like 'let's dig in this time' and it's tough when a team shoots 70-percent in that first half. Some of the shots were contested, it's not like we were just giving them everything.
"I wasn't super pleased but we pressed them to start the second half," continued Edison. "We got some deflections in that second half and got some easy buckets. Some guys knocked in some shots so were able to turn the tide. At halftime, we just had to see what we were made of. And win or lose there, I saw a lot just by coming back and battling so hard."
Good led LaVille with a game-high 23 points, including six 3-pointers. Wieczorek, after a slow start, came on to add 14 big second half and overtime points. Dill came off the bench to hit three key triples for nine points, and Leyton Czarnecki added seven crucial points. Fischer, meanwhile, came through with the game on the line to hit three of four charity tosses. Though being outrebounded overall, a strong second-half of hitting boards gave LaVille a chance. Dove led a balanced rebounding effort with six. Wieczorek and Good added five each and Coleman added four. Wieczorek and Dill led the defense with four steals each and Dove dished out five assists.
"We just had so many guys make some big plays," concluded Edison. "Jimmy's free throws in overtime and the guys that made some big plays during that third period to get us back in the game."
LaVille heads into a 15-day break at 5-2 overall before jumping back into Hoosier North Athletic Conference play on January 11 at North Judson-San Pierre.
"We got to continue to be consistent," Edison said as he looks toward the 2020 portion of the schedule. "It is hard to control shooting consistency every night but our defense, our half-court defense and our rebounding.... we shouldn't have gotten outrebounded like we did in the first half tonight. That was more of an effort type thing.
"We have an amazing offensive team we play next in North Judson," continued Edison. "They have what I think is the best player in our conference offensively. Our defense will need to be at a high level and we'll need to knock some shots down. It's nice to give our guys a break, come back and be hungry, and be ready to go."
•LAVILLE 64, TIPPECANOE VALLEY 61 (OT)
LaVille 10 16 35 51 64
Tippecanoe Valley 17 32 35 51 61
LaVille - Connor Wieczorek 14, Leyton Czarnecki 7, Bobby Good 23, Andrew Dill 9, Austin Dove 3, Alec Coleman 3, Tommy Goze 0, Jimmy Fischer 5. Totals: 22 10-16 64
Tippecanoe Valley - Tanner Trippiedi 16, Nolan Cumberland 12, Rex Kirchenstien 6, Paul Leasure 13, Braden Shepherd 7, Dawson Perkins 7, Bryce Fisher 0, DJ Estep 0. Totals 20 14-17 61
3-point field goals: LaVille 10 (Good 6, Dill 3, Wieczorek) Tippecanoe Valley 5 (Leasure 3, Trippiedi, Shepherd).
Total fouls (fouled out): LaVille 18 (none), Tippecanoe Valley 16 (none).