NEW MADISON – Tri-Village is coming off a perfect 30-0 season and is the defending Division IV boys basketball state champion.
Tri-Village lost several key players off last years’ team that includes Colton Linkous (20 points per game), the Division IV player of the year. The Patriots also lost Damion Cook (21 points per game and12 rebounds per game), an all-Ohio performer. The team also is without Mason McCabe, who provided key contributions for the Patriots at critical times in big games, and Brandon Dowler.
If anyone is expecting the Patriots to be down, they might be in for a surprise.
Tri-Village is a combined 102-7 over the last four years, and the program appears to be solid despite the losses.
“Obviously, we lost several key players who were instrumental in our team’s success last year both on and off the floor,” veteran coach Josh Sagester said. “It certainly will be difficult to replace them … but we do have several returning lettermen who gained valuable experience playing along side those seniors. Like every year, we do our best here to tap into our player’s strengths and put them in situations to succeed.”
Tri-Village returns key players from last year that includes Tyler Van Winkle, Gavin Richards, Brett Boyter and Knox Morris.
Tyler Van Winkle (5-10 senior) was a first team all-Cross County Conference player who averaged 10 points per game last year and will look to go out strong in his senior year.
“It starts with our guards,” Sagester said. “Tyler Van Winkle is 56-2 as our floor general, and anytime you have him on your team you believe you have a chance to win. He’s our all-time assist leader going into his senior year. He will continue to do what he has done for us and will do whatever it takes for us to win.”
Gavin Richards (6-1 junior) was special mention in the CCC last year and has already been projected as an all-Ohio pre-season nominee by JJ Huddle. He is poised to step forward this year in a more prominent role.
“Gavin Richards will be leaned upon heavily on both ends of the floor,” Sagester said. “He’s a crafty lefty who gained valuable big game experience and had an outstanding off season to get prepared for an increased role for our team this year. His shooting range and uncanny ability to get to the rim should be tough on opponents on most nights.”
Brett Boyter (5-10 senior) had a few big moments last year including a game at Covington where he came in and connected on four straight triples that help the Patriots roll to an 82-21 win over the Buccs.
“Brett Boyter is a senior sharpshooter who hit some big shots for us last year in some key games,” Sagester said. “It’s nice to have a defense stretcher, and Brett fills that role for us nicely. His shot making ability and his on ball defense will be key for our team’s success.”
Knox Morris (5-11 senior) was a spark pug off the bench last year and is looking for his moment to shine this year.
“Knox Morris also gained valuable experience last year, and we will rely on him to utilize his athleticism on both ends of the floor. He too had an outstanding offseason to prepare for an increased role on this year’s team,” Sagester said.
Other key contributors to this year’s team will be Brandon Peters, Jonny Wilson and Trace Couch.
“Brandon Peters (6-2 senior) is a program kid who will be counted on to provide leadership and perform the dirty” work that is needed for our team’s success,” Sagester said.
“Jonny Wilson (6-0 junior) is another athletic skilled player who had an outstanding offseason in the gym and on the football field who will be counted on and will see an increased role on our team,” Sagester said.
“Trace Couch (6-6 junior) is a 220 pound transfer who will help our team immediately when he becomes eligible as he will be an offensive and defensive post presence for our team. His strengths are his toughness and skill level around the basket,” Sagester said.
Rounding out the roster for the Patriots are Jared Buckley (6-1 sophomore) MVP of the football team, Dillon McCullough (6-1 sophomore) and Trey Frech (5-9 sophomore).
The Patriots are no strangers to preparation and hard work.
“Like always, we play as many games in the summer as possible, play as tough a competition as we can find and put many hours in the weight room as a team,” Sagester said. “Individually, these guys put in many hours in the gym working on skill level so when it’s their time they are prepared to take advantage of it.
“The strengths of our team will be our athleticism, defensive integrity, skill level and program experience, and we will play with the hand we’ve been dealt ultimately putting our kids in the best situations for individual and team success,” Sagester said.
“The theme this year is ‘protect the tradition,’ and we hope to do that over the next five months,” Sagester said.
Tri-Village will kick off the season on Saturday when the Patriots host Southeastern.
The Patriots will will unveil a new banner honoring the state championship team between the junior varsity and varsity game in a special ceremony.
“As always, we appreciate the support of our community and look forward to seeing Patriot Nation pack the gym for our home opener,” Sagester said.
“Our goals here at Tri-Village remain the same.We strive to win a Patriot Holiday Classic Title, a league championship and a state title,” Sagester concluded.