NEW MADISON – If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.
The Tri-Village boys basketball team was held scoreless the entire first period Friday against Bethel and scored just 11 points in the first half. The Patriots then trailed by 20 points to start the fourth quarter … and somehow still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, stunning the Bethel Bees in overtime by the score of 58-55.
For 24 minutes Bethel out-played, out-rebounded and out-hustled Tri-Village. While all was going right for the Bees, all was going wrong for the Patriots.
Christian Pfledderer scored seven of Bethel’s 12 first-quarter points while pitching a shutout over Tri-Village.
The Bees did it by packing in a 2-3 zone, taking away the inside aided by tentative shooting from the Patriots, which made their zone even more effective.
Not until two minutes elapsed in the second frame did the Patriots get on the board on a Colton Linkous goal, and by then the Patriots had dug a hole, trailing 17-2.
TV showed a slight spark as Tyler Cook scored two buckets and one by Tyler VanWinkle to narrow the gap at 17-8.
Senior guard Jason Clendening and Patrick Bain both had big second quarters with Clendening scoring eight and Bain six including a baseline jumper at the buzzer that gave the Bees a 26-11 halftime lead.
“We played about as bad as we could play in the first half,” Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester said. “Give credit to Bethel, they pressured the ball and made us feel uncomfortable, and when you don’t make shots, it makes their defense even better.
“We had a nice little chat in the locker room at halftime and told the guys we are going to find out a lot about ourselves in the second half … what we are made of, because good teams find a way to come back,” Sagester said.
And although Tri-Village didn’t win the third quarter, the Patriots began to play with more confidence by scrapping for 50/50 balls, fighting for rebounds and putting the ball in the basket.
Bain and Clendening once again came up big as the Bees added 19 points in the third quarter to go up 45-25.
After struggling to score for 24 minutes and scoring just 25 points, Tri-Village erupted for 28 points over the next eight minutes of the fourth quarter.
Linkous knocked down a triple and Mason McCabe added one, too. It was followed by a tap in by Damion Cook and a basket and the foul by Tyler Cook all in the span of one minute. All of a sudden the score was 47-36, prompting a timeout by Bethel coach Eric Glover and the Battleground was coming alive.
“We kept telling the boys keep battling, play solid defense and we are going to win this game, we will find a way to win this game,” Sagester said.
Bethel, who could do no wrong, began to tense up and now themselves became tentative looking for their shots.
With the Patriots knocking down outside shots, Bethel’s zone began to expand, and that opened the door for the Cooks.
Fielders by Damion and Tyler closed the lead to 48-42 before Bain stopped the bleeding with a baseline jumper of his own.
That didn’t stop the hard-charging Patriots as they scored nine straight points including a trey by McCabe at 2:10 and the score was 50-49.
Moments later Damion Cook got the tap in at the rim, finally giving TV the lead for the first time 51-50 at 1:40.
Bain wasn’t ready to concede anything as he helped the Bees regain the lead 52-51. Back came the PATS on a Tyler Cook layup to go up 53-52.
Bethel sophomore Evan Hawthorne, who dominated the boards most of the night, was fouled and converted one of two free throws, knotting the score at 53 and the game went to overtime.
Damion Cook got TV on the board first in the OT … once again it was Bain who answered with two free throws making it 55 each.
With a tie score and possession of the ball, Tri-Village was willing take the last shot, and it just so happened the unlikeliest of all to take it was Tyler VanWinkle.
But with everyone covered like a glove it was VanWinkle who fired up the triple, and it was nothing but net when the final horn went off … and it never sounded sweeter for Tri-Village then it did then.
The Patriots pulled off one of the greatest comebacks maybe in school history with a 58-55 win over the No. 2 state ranked Bethel Bees.
On the game-winning shot by VanWinkle Sagester had this to say: “I really didn’t want to call a timeout in that situation and let them set-up defensively. Tyler is a very heady sophomore, and he saw everyone was covered and made a nice ball fake, got his feet set and knocked it down.
“I’m really amazed at what this team just accomplished … we believed and they believed, their will to win was great,” Sagester said.
“We have winners in our program, and it comes from winning 43 straight regular season games, and it doesn’t get any better than it did tonight,” Sagester concluded.
“Adversity is when circumstances or a situation works against you and you seem to be faced with insurmountable odds.”
On Friday a capacity-crowd of 1,500 people at the Battleground witnessed Tri-Village overcome that adversity and with my own eyes would call it a “miracle.”
It was a win that can define a team as great … rather than just good, time will tell — but this may end up being one of the great ones at Tri-Village.
With the win Tri-Village goes to 13-0 overall and 9-0 in the conference while Bethel falls to 11-2 overall and 7-2 in the conference.
Patrick Bain led all scorers with 18 points, Christian Pfledderer had 15, and Jason Clendening added 12 for Bethel.
Damion Cook led the Patriots with 17 points while Tyler Cook dropped 15 and Mason McCabe 11.
Score by quarters:
TV…..0…11…14…28…05 – 58
BE…12…14…19…07…03 – 55
Tri-Village (13-0, 9-0)
T. VanWinkle 6, M. McCabe 11, D. Cook 17, C. Linkous 9, T. Cook 15
Bethel (11-2, 7-2)
B. Bain 18, C. Pfledderer 15, J. Clendening, 12, C. Hagen 3, E. Hawthorn 7
TV 5 (VanWinkle 1, McCabe 3, Linkous 1)
BE 5 (Bain, Pfledderer, Clendenin 2, Hagen)