ARCANUM – Arcanum hosted Tri-Village on Tuesday in a backyard rivalry game that wouldn’t be decided until the last second ticked off the clock.
Both teams had opportunities to win it, but it was the Patriots escaping town with a 46-45 win when a last-second heave from beyond half court was off the mark.
The home team got off to a quick start, going up 8-2 on two free throws from Lane Byrne and fielders from Evan Atchley, Grant Delk and Carter Gray.
Trey Frech connected on triple to draw closer at 8-5, and few minutes later Jared Buckley finished an and-one to make it 10-8 at 3:03.
The Patriots struggled to stop Gray, who scored on two straight possessions, including an old-fashioned 3-point play, but a Frech 3-pointer kept the PATS close at 15-13 to end the first quarter.
Derek Eyer gave TV its first lead in the game on a triple to go up 18-17, but it was the Patriots’ reserve player Darrell Lee off the bench who turned in a superb second quarter, scoring 10 of Tri-Village’s 13 points.
“We did a great job of staying patient against their zone and in the second quarter got the ball into the middle where Jared Buckley did a great job of keeping his head up and finding Darrell Lee on the baseline,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Mackenzie Perry said. “Darrell did what he has done all year long in practice and finished well to help break down their zone.”
“They did a good job of varying up their fronts against our zone, and when that happens we have to have the ability to vary up as well what we want to do, and that wasn’t the case tonight,” Arcanum coach Marcus Bixler said. “Communication was a problem. That allowed them to get the ball to Lee in the second quarter.”
It went back and forth with multiple lead changes and a few ties in the second quarter, but Arcanum still held a 27-26 lead at the break, thanks in part to making three triples – one each from Atchley, Gray and Andrew Baker.
In the third quarter the Patriots were focused on slowing down Arcanum’s sophomore scoring star Gray – with senior Noah Burns stepping up to take on the assignment. Gray was held to just two free throws after scoring 11 points in the first half. Arcanum got 4 points from Baker and 2 from Atchley, scoring just 8 points as a team in the frame.
“We knew coming into this game he (Carter Gray) was going to be a scorer, and Burns called it out at halftime,” Perry said. “I want to guard him; he’s a senior and been around this program a while so I said, ‘Hey, I’ll let you take him,’ and he did a fantastic job of slowing him down in the third quarter to put his stamp on the game.”
Arcanum switched from a zone defense to man-to-man in the third quarter and Buckley went to work, scoring 7 points, and Eyer added 4 as TV took a 37-35 lead heading into the final period.
Tri-Village took a 41-37 lead on a short Burns jumper … and then Gray came back to life.
Gray hit a triple on a set play called out of timeout, getting free off a couple of screens, and then moments later hit a short corner jumper over the defender to tie the game at 42 at the 1:41 mark.
Eyer then came up big, driving on the baseline and letting go a soft floater that put the PATS up 44-42 with 55 seconds left.
The Patriots then made two straight trips to the charity stripe, making just 2-of-4, and kept the door open for Arcanum with a 46-42 lead.
Gray launched a triple with 18 seconds left and drew a foul, promptly sank all three tosses to close within 1, 46-45.
Tri-Village missed the front end of the one-and-one and the Trojans had one more chance to take the lead, but they missed a short jumper and immediately fouled with 1.5 seconds left.
This time the Patriots missed both free throws, but a near full court desperation heave was well short, and Tri-Village survived to win its third game in a row, 46-45, snapping a two-game win streak for Arcanum.
On missing free throws down the stretch, Coach Perry didn’t want to dwell on it but knew his team was fortunate to get out of town with a win.
“When it comes to free throws, it’s one of those Achilles’ heels we are going to continue working on. I guess you have to stay calm and positive. We will get better at it. I don’t want to make a big of a deal out of it,” Perry said.
Bixler knew the Trojans had opportunities to win, but win or lose he knew his team didn’t play up to expectations.
“I told our kids, however the outcome of that game ended up, we played extremely poor. There were two things we really needed to do tonight – we had to communicate on the defensive end, which we didn’t do, and on the offensive end we needed to be disciplined. Neither one of those things were the case tonight,” Bixler said.
“On the offensive end we just weren’t disciplined. We weren’t strong with the ball, didn’t make the right reads, the right cuts or the right decisions, and it cost us. It was very frustrating,” Bixler concluded.
Arcanum, who was led by Gray with 21 points, fell to 5-6 overall and 1-4 in the Cross County Conference. The Trojans will travel to Pleasant Hill to take on Newton Friday night.
Tri-Village Coach Perry was optimistic his team is starting to turn the corner with its third win in a row.
“It shows we are growing as a team and guys are growing into their roles. We are getting better. We’ve had a couple of games where we didn’t finish at the end. Tonight we did, and we are slowly getting better. Tonight’s win gives me a lot of excitement for the future,” Perry said.
Tri-Village was led by Buckley with 16 points, Eyer with 12 and Lee 10, all in the second quarter.
The Patriots improved to 6-5 overall and 3-2 in CCC and will host Twin Valley South Friday night.
Score by quarters
TV …. 13 … 13 … 11 … 09 – 46
AR … 15 … 12 … 08 … 10 – 45
Tri-Village – Noah Burns 2, Derek Eyer 12, Trey Frech 6, Jared Buckley 16, Darrell Lee 10
Totals – 3-15-7/13 – 46
Arcanum – Carter Gray 21, Evan Atchley 7, Andrew Baker 7, Lane Burn 4, Grant Delk 6
Totals 4-11-11/13 – 45