BRANDT – Amid a full house at “The Hive” Friday evening Tri-Village saw its drive for five consecutive Cross County Conference titles come to an end at the hands of the Bethel Bees, 73-63.
The Patriots had worked their way back up to No. 12 in the latest Associated Press Ohio Division IV basketball poll. Their goal was to take down the Bees, who were the No. 13 team in the Division III state poll, and hope that Bethel also would lose its final conference game to Newton.
Tri-Village opened the game strongly, jumping out to an 8-3 lead and forcing the Bees to call timeout with 4:23 remaining in the opening period. The Patriots expanded the advantage to 13-6 before Bethel began to get into the game. A sign of things to come would appear as Bethel would connect for three shots from behind the arc by quarter’s end to draw within a point at 17-16 after eight minutes.
The second quarter was a battle of defensive effort. Neither team would let the other pull away from the other. The Patriots played with the lead for most of the period but 2-of-7 free throw shooting would not allow them to gain a lead. When Caleb South hit a triple for the Bees barely before the halftime buzzer, the Bees would enjoy a 29-27 edge at the intermission.
The tide began to turn in favor of Bethel in the third quarter. The Tri-Village balanced offensive attack of inside and outside dried up and only Gavin Richards would score the 12 Patriot points in the period. Midway into the quarter Bethel went on a 16-4 run fueled by four triples that pushed the Bees out to a 50-39 advantage going into the final stanza.
Offensive intensity increased in the fourth quarter as both teams would have their highest scoring quarter of the night. Tri-Village found some long-range shooting of its own and found Trace Couch inside again near the end of the game. Bethel kept accelerating the tempo and continually was looking for fast-break opportunities. The Patriots found enough offense to win but could not get enough stops.
“Did a good job defensively in the first half,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Josh Sagester said. “The second half, obviously I think our defense let us down. I give them a lot of credit. They made a lot of perimeter shots in their home gym. Had some other kids step up and made some big plays for them.”
“A very good basketball team and they out played us tonight,” Sagester concluded.
Richards had 26 points and Couch 20 for Tri-Village. South led Bethel with 24 points, Ryan Rose added 18, and Josh Evans scored 12 on four 3-point shots.
Bethel won the CCC title and is now 17-3 on the season. Tri-Village is currently in second place in the league and is now 12-6 overall.