BRADFORD – The Lady Patriots of Tri¬-Village entered Thursday’s Cross County Conference game needing a victory to win the outright league championship.
Standing in their way were the Lady Railroaders of Bradford, who were celebrating Senior Night. After 32 minutes of basketball Tri-Village had its championship with a 71-30 victory but wasn’t the only squad with a sense of accomplishment.
“When a team like that walks into your gym,” Bradford girls basketball coach Patrick McKee said, “you can either put up or shut up. I felt we put up a great effort out there.”
Tri-Village coach Brad Gray was happy to win the CCC title.
“It feels good,” he said. “Something you can’t take for granted. League championships aren’t easy to come by, and it feels good to lock one up.”
The Lady Patriots seized control of this game in the early moments. The red, white and blue opened the scoring on a Danika Mann field goal. Mandi Bates of Bradford would tie the score for the only time of the game at 2 by sinking two free throws with 6:28 remaining in the first quarter.
Tri-Village used a 15-3 surge to close out the period. Coach Gray was continually encouraging his girls to step up the defensive pressure in the half court, and as the Lady Patriots began to score this allowed them to set up their full court man-to-man pressure. Between this increased defensive pressure and a relentless assault on the offensive boards Tri-Village made its push out to a 17-5 first period lead.
The Lady Patriots had not shown a full court man-to-man press very often this season. It took its toll on Bradford, causing the Lady Railroaders to commit several turnovers and produced foul trouble and fatigue for Tri-Village.
“Played a lot of kids tonight,” Coach Gray said. “With no JV game tonight I added some JV kids, and they gave us some added minutes … We played a little different style tonight. Hadn’t picked up full court man-to-man very often this year … Our kids were effective in it, but needed those extra bodies there, too.”
Thanks mainly to its press, Tri-Village was able to increase its lead in the second quarter and hold a 35-15 halftime advantage.
If Bradford had any ideas of getting back into the contest in the third period the Tri-Village defense would have none of it. The Lady Patriots gave up a lone field goal in the eight-minute span while adding 19 to their score to put the game out of reach at 54-17 after three quarters.
The Lady Roaders did not stop playing in the fourth. The 13 points they scored was their best production of the night. A lot of that credit comes down to senior leadership.
“Three girls (Mandi Bates, Ally Booker and Olivia Hart) were part of the district run their freshman year,” Coach McKee said. “Three kids that bought in as freshmen and worked hard to make this the best experience they could over the next three years. I have a lot of respect for them as people and basketball players … They’re great people, great leaders, and we’re going to miss them a lot in this program.”
Bates of Bradford led all scorers with 21 points. Mann had 19 for Tri-Village.
Tri-Village is now getting ready for Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament play. The Lady Patriots will face Jefferson at 2 p.m. Feb. 18 at Brookville High School.
“We’re trying to throw in some wrinkles that people haven’t seen, change some things up and still play to our strengths,” Coach Gray said.
Bradford will be gearing up for Yellow Springs in the first round of the OHSAA tournament at 5 p.m. Feb. 18 at Brookville High School.