LEWISBURG – The Tri-Village Patriots are deep into league play in mid-January. The games get critical as they count to the league standings and also the state tournament is on the horizon.
Teams are jockeying for a good seed in the tournament. So every game matters all the more as teams across Ohio work on the second half of their season.
So with this situation the Patriots had to face a resurgent Tri-County North team that has caught a wave this winter. After floundering for many years at the bottom of the league, North has been playing better ball as of late.
The Patriots played with North for most of Friday’s game, but they were outpaced down the stretch and dropped a game on the road, 62-50.
The Patriots struggled a little in the first quarter. The Panthers threw a full-court press at them, and it was somewhat effective in the first half. Gradually Tri-Village was able to figure things out, and North went back to half-court defense.
In the second quarter Trey Frech lived up to his moniker – sparking a rally with three treys before halftime. A buzzer beater from well beyond the 3-point line put the Patriots in a good position. They were only down by 4 at the break, 32-28.
The Panthers changed tactics and put pressure on the outside game (no 3-point shots scored in the second half) so Jared Buckley went to work – muscling the ball to the hoop. He would score 14 of his 15 points in the second half as he tried to keep the Patriots close.
The Panthers countered with a couple of defenders – at one point Preston Jackson, who at 6 feet 3 inches and 305 pounds is better suited at offensive tackle, guarded him then late in the game Josh Heindl was given the task of guarding Buckley.
“Jared paces our game,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Mackenzie Perry said. “He gives us energy and a lot of times he gets things started for us. He has been a great leader. He used his head most of the game and took advantage of opportunities. He did not buckle under pressure and performed great for us.”
Tri-County North got most of its points from driving to the hoop, but the Panthers were consistent in being able to kick out the ball and score from 3-point land when needed. At the end of the third quarter North was now up by 10.
And although they tried hard, the Patriots could not find any answers in the last quarter as they just couldn’t generate enough offense to keep up with the Panthers.
“It’s about execution offensively,” Coach Perry said. “We did not execute when we needed to. But you have to give credit to North – they executed well, scoring 60 points, and their defense did a good job against us. You can’t turn the ball over 15, 20 times a game and expect to win. We have to come out better against (Twin Valley) South and fix it.
“South has two good forwards in (Willie) Bowman and (Travis) Lovely. So we have to be prepared to defend against them. Their senior guard, (Ryan) Bassler, is pretty good – we have to contain him. We have to play our game, and if we do we can play with anybody.”
Scoring: Tri-Village – Noah Burns 9, Derek Eyer 1, Trey Frech 12, Jared Buckley 15, Darrell Lee 2, Christian Ricker 11. North – McCollough 25, Stinson 10, Larson 3, Stinson 7, Jackson 8, Heindl 7