UNION CITY – During the Christmas holiday there are many kids out there who believe in Santa Claus, and to them it’s no fairy tale.
If someone had said Mississinawa Valley had won four games in a row, many would have thought they were trying to sell that same fairy tale.
The Hawks shocked Tri-Village with a 2-point win, 55-53, at the Nest Tuesday night and proved it was no fairy tale.
The Hawks are the surprise team so far in the early part of the season, considering the 0-2 start, and then turning it around and finding a way to win four straight games down the stretch.
It didn’t look good early as Tri-Village came out firing, opening up a 9-2 advantage on a Trey Frech triple at the 4:57 mark.
The Patriots expanded the lead to 13-4 on two fielders from Jared Buckley at 3:36.
MV’s Ethan Bowman drained a trey at 2:50 to make it 13-7 … but a quick bucket by TV’s Christian Ricker put the PATS back on top 15-7.
The Hawks held the Patriots scoreless the last 2:30 and closed the gap with 4 more points from Bowman and a bucket from DJ Howell to end the first quarter, 15-13.
As Bowman goes, usually go the Hawks. Tri-Village held the senior guard scoreless in the second quarter … but his teammates were there to pick up the slack.
Sophomore Blake Scholl opened the second quarter connecting on a long triple to give the Hawks their first lead of the game, 16-15.
That lead switched hands five times in the second quarter, but the Patriots led 28-26 at the half.
Buckley was a one man wrecking crew for the PATS with 10 points in the frame while the Hawks got 6 points from Blake Scholl, 4 points from Alex Scholl and 3 from Howell.
The third quarter wasn’t kind to Tri-Village as the Patriots went stone-cold from the perimeter and managed just 9 points.
Mississinawa found success by pounding the ball inside to Howell, matching the Patriots’ 9 points.
With two minutes left in the third period, Alex Scholl stole the ball and converted the layup to give MV a 40-33 lead – the biggest of the night for either team.
Buckley scored on two straight possessions to narrow the Hawk lead to 41-37 heading into the final stanza.
Tri-Village struck quickly on back-to-back triples from Derek Eyer and Gage Hileman to jump back out in front 43-41 at 6:37, prompting a timeout.
Two straight goals inside from Darrell Lee expanded the Patriots’ lead to 47-41 and gave them the momentum.
Mississinawa Valley, though, slowly starting to chip away at Tri-Village and did it with the gritty play of Bowman.
Bowman, who was held to just 9 points in the first three quarters, scored 12 in the final four minutes of the game, going 9-for-10 from the free throw line to net game-high scoring honors with 21 points.
Tri-Village with the 6-point lead worked to pull Mississinawa Valley out of its zone defense but failed to take care of the basketball. It was Bowman’s quick hands that came away with the ball, and TV kept fouling him, despite the lead.
At the three-minute mark, Bowman’s 3-point play the hard way put the Hawks back on top 48-47, and the Nest was getting loud. The student section was up on their feet proudly showing off their colorful ugly Christmas sweaters.
Hileman put the Patriots back on top on a long-range bomb to go up 50-49.
With an opportunity to go up even more, the Patriots missed a shot … but then fouled Alex Scholl on the rebound by grabbing him, and the young sophomore netted two big free throws with 57 second to go to regain the lead 51-50.
Bowman followed that up with two more throws to improve the score to 53-50.
Tri-Village wasn’t ready to concede and with 27 seconds to go Hileman made his third triple in the quarter to tie the game at 53, giving Tri-Village fans a glimmer of hope.
Those hopes were dashed when Bowman baited and successfully got an overly aggressive Patriot to foul him, and with five seconds on the clock he calmly sank two more charity tosses.
The Patriots had one last chance to tie it or win it, but a short shot fell harmlessly away giving, yet again, another dramatic win to Mississinawa Valley 55-53.
With the exception of the Bethel game this year, the other five MV games played have all come down to the wire or gone into overtime.
“The boys are getting calmer it seems like, our sophomores are getting better, just like making those foul shots toward the end,” Mississinawa Valley boys basketball coach Tim Barga said. “Yes, we had a senior make the majority, but was also had sophomore Alex Scholl hit two big free throws there at the end. As a team for us to step up and make them in the fourth quarter after missing 11 foul shots earlier, well that was big.
“Ethan Bowman is really starting to show his senior leadership and is trusting his teammates more and not trying to do everything,” Barga said. “The other night against Troy Christian he had 13 points … but he also had nine rebounds, nine steals and nine assists; that’s a pretty good game. He’s really been very unselfish. He just makes plays and gets everyone involved.”
Bowman led the night with 21 points, Howell had 15 and Alex Scholl 8 in the win as the Hawks improved to 4-2 on the year and 2-0 in the Cross-County Conference. They will be back in action on Friday when they travel to Pleasant Hill to play Newton.
Tri-Village was paced by Buckley with 20 points and Hileman had 12. The PATS fall to 2-4 overall and 1-1 in the conference and will host Franklin Monroe Friday night.
“I just asked the kids, could you have imagined after losing our first two games, that we could win four games in a row? Of course, they said no. We are starting to make believers out of people. There are a lot of teams out there that can beat us, but we have proven we can compete and beat them as well,” Barga concluded.
If you don’t believe it’s real, well just ask New Bremen, Ansonia, Troy Christian and now Tri-Village. Just like the movie “Miracle on 34th Street” and little Susan Walker chanting under her breathe, “I believe, I believe” … well there are a few in Union City chanting it, and they are starting to believe.
Score by quarters:
TV …. 15 … 13 … 09 … 16 – 53
MV … 13 … 13 … 15 … 14 – 55
Tri-Village – Gage Hileman 12, Noah Burns 5, Derek Eyer 3, Trey Frech 3, Jared Buckley 20, Darrell Lee 6, Christian Ricker 4 – Totals – 5-16-6/8 – 53
Mississinawa – Max Dirmeyer 2, Ethan Bowman 21, Trent Collins 2, Alex Scholl 8, DJ Howell 15, Matt Slob 1, Blake Scholl 6 – Totals – 3-13-20/31 – 55