NEW MADISON – Tri-Village played host to Miami East Saturday afternoon in what has become a pivotal game over the last seven years in determining the Cross County Conference champion.
But in that stretch, the Patriots have only been able to claim one girls basketball title as the Vikings have snared six of those.
The Vikings, typically a physical team, opened the game with triples by Samantha Skidmore and Angie Mack on their way to an early 11-2 lead.
East flexed its muscle inside behind the twin duo of Trina and Ashley Current to go up 16-4 with 1:35 in the opening quarter.
Lexie Bruner stepped forward for TV with a drive for two and the foul … and then hit a 3-pointer to close out the quarter strong, trailing 16-10 to the Vikings.
Miami East went back to work in the second frame and expanded its lead to 25-12 on the inside play of Ellie Gearhart and outside shot from behind the arch by Emily Kindell.
The Patriots showed a little fire and back they came with a triple by Echo Brown and back-to-back treys from freshman Allie Downing, narrowing the lead to 26-22 at 1:57.
Bruner added another trifecta to get the PATS to 28-25, but Kindell closed out the half with her second shot from downtown to give the Vikings a 31-25 lead.
It was like watching “Ground Hog Day” all over again in the third period. East built up a 10-point lead, and the Patriots made a few plays and hit a couple of threes this time by Raya Mikesell, and the score was 43-40.
“This game was pretty much like the one we played with them (Miami East) last week in the Graham Holiday Tournament,” Patriot head coach Brad Gray said.
“They go on us and we make some plays and fight back … but they are such a difficult match up for us with their size, three girls over 6 foot, we just don’t have the physical ability to move them off the block,” Gray added.
In the final stanza the Vikings went to their bread and butter running the flex offense and taking the ball to the basket. Tri-Village was unable to physically slow them down inside, and it turned out to be a free throw-a-thon for Miami East.
“Fortunately we have that in our back pocket,” coach Preston Elifritz said. “We shoot the ball as a team very well. Tonight we were 22-for-28 overall and 17-for-20 in the second half, and when you can do that, it’s hard for team to come from behind.”
The Vikings put this one away at the line on their way to a 62-49 league win to put themselves in the driver seat searching for their seventh overall league title.
“Hats off to the Patriots. They played hard and just didn’t quit,” Elifritz said. “Every time we got up they made a run of eight-10 points. They are totally the opposite of us as a team … but we weathered their runs, and we are happy to get this win today.”
Coach Brad Gray was pleased with his team’s effort and would like to see that effort on a more consistent basis throughout the rest of the year.
“The girls played hard, and we battled back several times. I was a little disappointed in our lack of aggressiveness in attacking the lanes and thought we settled for too many long range shots today…but the one positive was our effort, and if we can keep playing with that type of effort, it will pay dividends,” Gray concluded.
Miami East showed great balance offensively with Ashley Current leading the way with 15 points, Trina Current 12, Angie Mack 10 and Ellie Gearhart eight.
Lexie Bruner had a big game for the Patriots and led all scorers with 20 while Raya Mikesell and Krystal Falknor each chipped in eight points.
Score by quarters:
TV…10…15…15…09 – 49
ME…16…15…12…14 – 62
Tri-Village (7-4, 4-1)
Brown 1 – 1 – 0/1 – 5
Mikesell 2 – 0 – 2/6 – 8
Falknor 0 – 1 – 6/8 – 8
Downing 2 – 0 – 0/0 – 6
Bruner 3 – 3 – 5/5 – 20
Mann 0 – 1 – 0/0 – 2
Totals 8 - 6 -13/20 – 49
Miami East (10-1, 5-0)
Mack 1 – 1 – 5/6 – 10
Skidmore 1 – 1 – 2/2 – 7
Gearhart 0 – 1 – 6/7 – 8
DeFord 0 – 2 – 0/0 – 4
Kindell 2 – 0 – 0/2 – 6
A. Current 0 – 5 – 5/6 – 15
T. Current 0 – 4 – 4/5 - 12
Totals 4 - 14 - 22/28 – 62