TROY – The No. 2 ranked Tri-Village boys basketball team made it a three-peat, winning its third consecutive sectional title by defeating the No. 8 Bethel Bees by the score of 51-41 at the Troy Division IV tournament.
Just five weeks ago the same two teams went toe to toe with the Patriots stinging Bethel by overcoming a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime that set up “The Miracle Shot’ by Tyler VanWinkle for the win.
In the rematch … there would be no large lead for Bethel. In fact the Bees led just once 2-0 as Patrick Bain got the first basket of the game.
Tri-Village was determined not to get down by double digits and avoid a first quarter shutout at the hands of the Bees for a second time.
Damion Cook and Tyler Cook both scored back-to-back fielders to tie and take the lead 4-2 at the 4:30 mark, and Tri-Village never relinquished that lead the remainder of the game.
It was a tough first quarter. Both teams were slow out the gate with Bethel packing in a 2-3 zone … but a big triple from VanWinkle put the PATS up 8-4, and when Mason McCabe hit a lay up to end the first quarter, TV held a 10-6 lead.
In the second stanza both teams took their swings like two prizefighters with neither backing down.
With the Patriots leading 17-13, Tommy Bell swiped the ball away from a Bethel player into the hands of Colton Linkous who then tossed it up court to Damion Cook and for the second consecutive game he threw down a two-handed dunk that electrified the crowd.
But within a blink of the eye the ball was up the court and Bain (Cross County Conference Player of the Year) got to the rim for two and the foul for a 3-point play to answer the bell, which in turn, brought their crowd to life as well … and the Troy gymnasium was rocking.
Tri-Village closed out the half on a big bucket from Damion Cook with just seconds left to take a 21-16 lead at intermission.
Bethel traded baskets with TV in the third quarter until Christina Hagen made consecutive goals including an-and-one to help the Bees to within a score, trailing 25-23 at the 4:18 mark.
Senior Tyler Cook answered with a fielder … but Hagen struck again, this time a triple form the top of the key, and the Bees was within one, 27-26.
Tri-Village had the answer, too, as the Patriots executed well a VanWinkle pass over the top of the Bethel defense to Linkous, who caught and shot for the score to end the third with the PATS leading 32-28.
If it worked once why not try it again … almost an instant replay, the VanWinkle to Linkous connection was true and it gave the Patriots the control they were looking for as the lead grew to 34-28 to start the final stanza.
Sensing the importance of what just happened Bain stepped forward … and he wasn’t to be denied as he got in the paint on a drive, missed the shot but got his rebound and scored through three Patriot defenders drawing the foul and pulling Bethel within three, trailing 34-31.
With Hagen fouling out and playing a career type game up to that point … it was Bain who strapped the team to his back.
Bain led all scorers in the game with 20 points including 11 in the final stanza … but the Patriots answered every time. Eventually Bethel had to resort to fouling, as Tri-Village was content to run clock and control the tempo with the lead.
Tri-Village expanded its lead at the free throw line by connecting on 14 of them in the fourth quarter to negate the effort put forth by Bain.
On this night there was no dramatic finish, just two teams who went toe to toe and when the final bell rang it was Tri-Village who outlasted Bethel to claim the win.
The emotions were laid bare for all to see as seniors Bain, Pfledderer, Hagen and Clendenning realized their dream had come to end …but there was no shame in what they had accomplished with a 20-4 record for the year. The shame is the fact that the game wasn’t played further down the line.
“That’s a really, really good basketball team we beat tonight, and they have some special players,” Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester said.
“I’m really proud of our effort. It wasn’t a pretty game. We were tough and tenacious and kept our focus tonight,” Sagester said. “You never know how 16, 17 and 18 year old kids will react or play in an electric atmosphere.
“I’ve always said offense wins games, and defense wins championships. Tonight we played defense like champions,” Sagester added. “We emphasized owning the paint and defensive rebounding because the team that gets the most easy baskets wins, and we did that tonight,” Sagester concluded.
Tri-Village was big on the boards as Damion Cook pulled down 10 and Tyler Cook seven.
Damion Cook also led TV with 16 points, Linkous added 13, and Tyler Cook 12. VanWinkle dished out six assists as well.
With the win Tri-Village advances to the district at at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at University of Dayton Arena. The Patriots will face Fort Loramie, who beat Houston 58-57 Saturday night.
Score by quarters:
TV…10…11…11…19 – 51
BE…06…10…12…13 – 41
TV: Van Winkle 8, McCabe 2, D. Cook 16, Linkous 13, T. Cook 12.
Bethel: Bain 20, Pfledderer 6, Clendenning 2, Hagen 13.
3-pointers: TV 2 (Van Winkle 2) B 2 (Hagen 2).