TROY – The Tri-Village Lady Patriots had a bad taste in their mouth last year after an early exit from the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
The senior group of Allie Downing, Danika Mann and Rachel Miller were running out of time again this year after falling behind to Cedarville by 12 points in the first half on Saturday.
At the 4:37 mark of the second quarter Tri-Village girls basketball coach Brad Gray needed a timeout.
“We called a timeout when we got down by 12 points, and the message was simple … we have to rebound the basketball,” Gray said. “The reason we were down was simply because they were getting all the rebounds.
“We didn’t expect them to get second and third opportunities, and quite frankly it’s because they wanted the ball more,” he added.
To Tri-Village’s credit the Patriots settled down after falling behind 22-10. They slowly started to chip away by going inside to Mann and Downing. The duo would be the only Patriots to score from the field in the first half as they cut into the margin, trailing 23-19 at the half.
After the break the Patriots defensively were more active and limited Cedarville to one and out on the offensive end, and that would lead to good things.
Ironically after going 0-for-9 in the first half from the outside it would be the long-range game that opened things up for TV.
Miller, Trisa Porter and Emma Printz all knocked down triples. Miller’s trey at the 3:47 mark gave the PATS the lead for the first time, 31-28.
“I thought hitting those 3s helped us tremendously because they had to think about changing defenses and when they went man-to-man they weren’t really able to guard us inside,” Gray said.
The Patriots would end the third quarter up 33-32.
In the final quarter with Cedarville playing man-to-man the Patriots seized control going back to work inside behind the play of Mann and Downing; both had big games.
Mann led all scorers in the game with 23 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Downing contributed 15 points and eight rebounds, and after struggling as team to rebound in the first half the Patriots won the battle of the boards for the game 31-29.
“In the fourth quarter our kids did a good job of exploiting inside mismatches,” Gray said.
Miller and Porter helped find those mismatches, each dishing out four assist on the day.
With Tri-Village in the lead and now holding Cedarville to one an out on defense the Patriots would go on to win the game by the score of 49-42.
“Our first shot defense was good all night long,” Gray said. “Yes, they hit some first shots, but they are a good basketball team. They have two 1,000 point scorers and are going to have a third, so we knew they were going to hit shots … but when they got up big and then realized we weren’t going away I thought their kids started to play tight. To our kids’ credit we’ve had a few games this year where we have been down double digits and didn’t panic. We continued to fight and got back in the game.
“Our seniors are a group from the time they were young has had high expectations. They have had a lot of success at the high school level … but never could quite get over this hump right here, so for them to be cutting down the nets today is real special, not only for them but our basketball team as well.
“Our senior played with a lot of want to … getting that district win is never easy, and now this class can rank themselves up there with some of the best we’ve had at Tri-Village, and I hope that relieves any pressure they might have felt and now just go out and play and have fun.”
The Patriots will face a familiar foe in the regional semifinals, taking on Jackson Center at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at Vandalia-Butler High School.
Jackson Center took out the Patriots last year and went on to Columbus, so the Patriots would like to return the favor this year.
“I think people took our success for granted, but winning a district championship is difficult,” Gray said. “We had a stretch where four straight district titles and went to four straight regional finals with one state appearance, and it becomes an expectation people have that we can do this every year.”
“It takes an awful lot of dedication, time, hard work, and we haven’t been here since 2014 and once you taste that success you want to get back … I’m just so proud for our seniors and all our kids that they now also get to enjoy this … they worked so hard, maybe harder than any other team I’ve had in the off season,” Gray concluded.
Score by quarters:
Tri-Village … 09 … 10 … 14 … 16 – 49
Cedarville … 13 … 10 … 09 … 10 – 42
Miller 3, Printz 4, Porter 4, Downing 15, Mann 23
Totals – 3-12-16/23 – 49
Bolender 17, Harding 3, Coe 6, Melton 12, Cyphers 4
Totals 4-12-6/10 – 42
TV – 3 (Printz 1, Miller 1, Porter 1)
CE – 4 (Bolender 2, Coe 2)