NEW MADISON – Tri-Village got off to a good start against visiting Covington and held on in the fourth quarter to record a 56-55 league win over the Buccaneers.
The Patriots jumped out in front 14-5 on two triples from Gage Hileman plus 6 points from Jared Buckley and 2 from Cameron Sterrett in the opening frame in which they looked very sharp executing their offense.
Buckley spent most of the second quarter on the bench with foul trouble, but Derek Eyer gave TV a lift off the bench with 7 points.
Covington, though, slowly clawed back into the game, scoring 19 points in the second quarter by attacking the offensive glass with Gray Harshbarger taking advantage and scoring 8 of his 10 points in the frame. Josh Parrot energized the Buccs with a one-handed jam and followed that with a 3-pointer, and the Buccs trailed by one, 25-24, with 5.6 seconds to go in the second quarter.
Tri-Village got a good shot to end the half. It came off hard, but a hustling Mason Sullenbarger gathered in the miss and while off-balance and falling away from the basket somehow under-handed it with some spin into the basket just as the horn sounded to give the PATS a 27-24 halftime lead.
The Patriots’ offense slowed after the break and was outscored 13-9 by the Buccs in the third quarter, giving Covington a 1-point lead, 37-36.
The final period had both sides on the edge the entire time going back and forth with four lead changes and two ties.
The fourth quarter turned into a highlight reel for Eyer, who scored 14 of his game-high 21 points.
With the score tied at 43, Trey Frech got a big steal and finished the layup, and seconds later it was Eyer duplicating the play to give the PATS a 47-43 lead at 3:22.
The Buccs hung tough, getting a triple from Andrew Cates to close to 47-46, but Eyer turned a missed layup into a scoring opportunity on a rebound stick-back while drawing the foul to put TV back up 50-46.
From that point on the Patriots made just enough free throws to salt the game away, negating a last second 3-pointer from the Buccs to win it 56-55.
“What a game by Derek Eyer,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Mackenzie Perry said.
“Derek hurt his thumb in practice and went to the hospital yesterday, and we were considering holding him out and saving him, but, he said, ‘Coach, I want to play,’ and that turned out to be a really good move and the best game of the season for him,” Perry said.
“I just love he did the things we see him do in practice in the game, he can go strong to the rim and finish, and that’s what he did tonight,” Perry said.
The Patriots were led by Eyer with a career-high 21 points, Buckley had 14, and Hileman chipped in 8.
Tri-Village improved to 8-10 overall and 6-4 in the Cross County Conference.
“We have got a tough weekend coming as undefeated league foe Bethel comes here Friday night and then senior night Saturday with Coldwater, and we want to be playing our best basketball,” Perry concluded.
Score by quarters
CO .. 05 … 19 … 13 … 18 – 55
TV … 08 … 14 … 07 … 26 – 56
Covington – Yohey 3, Cates 7, Barnet 12, Lyle 2, Harshbarger 10, Foley2, Miller 7, Wiggins 12; Totals 6-11-14/19 – 55
Tri-Village – Gage Hileman 8, Noah Burns 1, Derek Eyer 21, Trey Frech 6, Jared Buckley 14, Christian Ricker 2, Cameron Sterrett 2, Mason Sullenbarger 2;
Totals 4-16-11/20 – 56