DAYTON — One year after a disappointing loss in the regional tournament, Tri-Village is back in the sweet 16 as the Patriots dominated Fort Loramie in a 62-37 district championship victory.
From the opening minute of the contest to the final minute, Tri-Village controlled the game with the Patriots never trailing in the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament match up.
“I thought we rose to the occasion,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Josh Sagester said. “I’m not sure we could have played a whole lot better on this stage given the circumstances.”
Even though Tri-Village lost four starters from last year’s team, which was ranked No. 1 in the state and undefeated prior to the regional semifinal loss to Troy Christian, the Patriots have been a force this season with just one loss and have outscored their four tournament opponents 306-156.
Tri-Village handled Fort Loramie just as it has other opponents throughout the 2013-14 campaign with strong play from its starting five plus Mason McCabe off the bench.
Senior Tyler Cook, the only returning starter from last year’s squad, was the go-to player on Thursday at University of Dayton Arena as he paced the Patriots with 24 points and also pulled down 12 rebounds.
Damion Cook, even though he was limited to 22 minutes because of foul trouble, also played strong with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“We know what our bread and butter is, obviously in the paint with both Cooks,” Sagester said. “And Colton Linkous is able to make perimeter shots and stretch the defense for us. And I thought our two guards (Tommy Bell and Tyler VanWinkle) did what they did all year long, and that’s play hard-nosed defense and get the ball where it needs to go.”
The trio of Damion Cook, Tyler Cook and Linkous, who have led the team in scoring all year, got the Patriots off to a fast start by scoring the first seven points of the game.
After a Tanner Rittenhouse bucket got Fort Loramie on the scoreboard, Bell, Linkous and Tyler Cook took control offensively to put Tri-Village up 14-2 and prompt a timeout from the Redskin bench.
Fort Loramie was able to regroup a little and get five points from Grant Olberding before the first quarter ended, but Tri-Village was firmly in control with a 16-7 lead.
Tyler Cook dominated early in the second quarter as he scored eight of the period’s first 10 points, increasing the Patriot lead to 24-9. Then McCabe and VanWinkle added to the Patriot offense to help push the lead to 32-18 by halftime.
Tri-Village was able to out-rebound Fort Loramie 19-9 in the first half, which gave the Patriots a 9-0 advantage in second-chance points and helped build their lead. They also out-shot the Redskins 44.4 percent to 33.3 percent.
While Tri-Village’s offense was clicking in the first half, it got even stronger in the second half as the Patriots shot 62.5 percent from the field in the final two quarters. The Patriot defense also stepped it up, holding the Redskins to an 18.5 shooting percentage in the final 16 minutes.
Tri-Village was able to outscore Fort Loramie 14-10 in the third quarter as Tyler Cook and Damion Cook continued to lead the charge with Linkous and Bell adding to the output, also, making the score 46-28.
Tri-Village continued to control the game in the fourth quarter and pushed its lead to as many as 27 points. The Patriots ended up winning by 25, 62-37.
“We just had to be us,” Sagester said. “We didn’t do anything more or anything less.”
In addition to Tyler Cook’s game-high 24 points and Damion Cook’s 11, Linkous scored 10 points for the Patriots, Bell scored seven, VanWinkle scored four, McCabe scored three, Knox Morris scored two, and Gavin Richards scored one.
Damion Cook led the Patriots with a game-high 13 rebounds, VanWinkle led the team with a game-high nine assists, and Linkous had a game-high four steals.
Olberding led Fort Loramie with 13 points in the loss. Also for the Redskins, Devin Braun scored seven points, Clint Ratermann scored six, Rittenhouse scored four, Zach Brandewie scored two, Craig Fullenkamp scored two, Andy Grewe scored two, and Kyle Pleiman scored one.
Tri-Village now is one of 16 teams left in the Division IV state tournament and advances to play in the regional semifinals at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Trent Arena in Kettering.
The Patriots will play Troy Christian, who beat Lockland 73-63 on Thursday, in a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal. The 2013 tournament game between the two teams was decided in overtime with Troy Christian winning and eventually advancing to the state final four.
“I thought our kids looked confident; I thought they felt confident,” Sagester said of Thursday’s district championship victory. “Obviously this is a hurdle we had to get over, but we’ve been waiting a long time to get ourselves back to the sweet 16 and put on a better performance than we did last time. It’s really ironic that it could be Troy Christian.”