VANDALIA – Tri-Village came up short in its quest to move on to the elite eight, falling out of the tournament for the second straight year to Jackson Center by the score of 42-29.
It was a bazaar contest, but maybe a masterful game plan by Jackson Center as the Tigers were content to run a very patient offense and take a lot time off the clock with each possession.
It started well for Tri-Village with Rachel Miller making the first shot of the game behind the arch before Jackson Center went on a 10-0 run. The Tigers only made four triples the entire game but were good on three of them in the first quarter.
Miller quelled the run on her second triple of the night, but TV trailed 13-6 after the first quarter.
The Patriots were off to a quick start in the second quarter as Allie Downing scored 5 straight points and moments later Danika Mann added two free throws, tying the game at 13 at the 6:10 mark.
With the quick surge the Tigers took it to another level on slowing down the game … and what almost seemed like an eternity it remained at 13 until 3:22 when Kennadie Resse connected on a triple.
The Tigers would go in at the break up 19-13 as the Patriots were held scoreless for the rest of the first half.
To say the first half was physical inside would be an understatement … the Patriots are normally accustomed to getting inside scoring from Mann but she was held to just 2 points.
The Tigers would make good use of their post players inside, banging away on the Patriots’ post player and negating easy scores.
“In a game like tonight where there are limited possessions you need to make shots,” Tri-Village girls basketball coach Brad Gray said. “The game was physical, and they got the benefit of the whistle, and certainly they were more physical than us. It’s unfortunate they could play that way as we didn’t get the same body calls as they did and we’re on the wrong end of the whistle all night.”
If anyone thought the pace of play couldn’t get any slower they would be proved wrong in the third quarter. Tri-Village won the quarter 4-2 … but due to the stall ball tactic employed the Patriots were going be forced to foul in the final stanza if they had any hopes of winning the game.
“It was our plan all game long to slow the game down,” Jackson Center coach Jeff Reese said. “We knew they had a lot of good shooters and getting into a running game would not be to our benefit.”
For the Patriot fans the fourth quarter would be a nightmare … but if you were a Jackson Center fan you were loving it.
Tri-Village’s Coach Gray did a masterful job of using his bench to try and pick-up the tempo with constant pressure, and if they picked up a foul along the way it would save his starters from getting fouls and eventually force the Tigers to the free throw line.
It worked despite only making one field goal in the entire second half … no one could foresee Jackson Center capitalizing by going 18-for-22 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Senior Cassie Meyer camped at the line, making 14 straight, and the Patriots couldn’t find a way to make enough plays to close the gap, falling in the end 42-29.
“You have to give Jackson Center credit. It was a very good move on their part in the second half. As much as I don’t like watching the other team hold the ball … but because they struggle to score by taking air out of the ball we had to use a lot of energy to chase them around and eventually we had to foul,” said a disappointed Gray after the game.
“They stepped up and made free throws and did what they had to do. Unfortunately we got tired and didn’t make shots and that was the game.”
“My message to them after the game was it was a great season. We were 24-2, CCC, sectional and district champs,” Gray said.
“For our senior in their career they were Cross County Conference champions three times, district Runner-up last year and district champions this year. A lot of kids who play this game don’t ever win a conference championship or a sectional title, and they have done it multiple times,” Gray said.
“The kids aren’t gone to feel good tomorrow, not next week or even next month … but I know the seniors will be able to look back and see they did some special things and had great careers,” Gray added.
“For our young kids coming up, and we have some good ones, I hope tonight’s game will fuel their fire a little bit. The deeper you get the more it stings when you get knocked out. They’re all hurting pretty bad right now, and I hope they use that as motivation to get better going forward,” Gray concluded.
Score by quarters:
Tri-Village ………… 06 … 07 … 04 … 12 – 29
Jackson Center … 13 … 06 … 02 … 21 – 42
Miller 10, Printz 3, Downing 7, Siler 5, Mann 3
Totals – 5-2-8/13 – 29
Reese 6, Elchert 6, Meyer 23, Clark 5, Ware 2
Totals 4-12-6/10 – 42
TV – 5 (Miller 3, Downing 1, Printz 1, Siler 1)
JC – 4 (Meyer 2, Elchert 1, Reese 1)