NEW MADISON – Tri-Village hosted Ponitz, a Division II Dayton Public School, in non- conference action Saturday night.
The Golden Panthers were mere seconds away from leaving town and spoiling Hall of Fame night.
Tyler VanWinkle had something else in mind when he let go of a one-handed floater off the baseline in traffic that hit the bottom of the net with 0.4 seconds to play, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and stunning the visitors to give the Patriots an improbable 62-61 win.
It was apparent early on Ponitz’s size and athleticism was going to pose problems for Tri-Village as the Golden Panthers jumped out to an 8-2 lead.
Tri-Village battled back behind Trace Couch with six points and the Patriots went up 13-10 to end the first quarter.
VanWinkle scored eight points and Knox Morris five in the second frame to help the Patriots go up by seven points … but the Golden Panthers were relentless and made a run of their own.
“We knew early on Floyd Scott was a man, and he did damage inside on us,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Josh Sagester said.
“Defensively we were trying to keep the lane packed and keep them out of the paint … you have to give up something, and to their credit they were making shots,” Sagester added.
Ponitz scored 22 points to go up 32-30 at the half.
Tri-Village executed its offense well in the third period, getting eight points from Gavin Richards and taking advantage of the iso. And when Ponitz tried to take it away Couch was able to slip the lane for six points.
Ponitz matched them and led 48-47 after three quarters of play.
“I thought we did a really nice job of taking away Floyd in the second half … but they had guys making plays, and when their other post man steps out and makes a couple 18 footers … well, you’re a pretty good team,” Sagester said.
In the final stanza Tri-Village couldn’t get a defensive stop and trailing 51-54 at 3:54 Ponitz coach Shaun O’Connell made a bold move and switched defense, going to a triangle and two on Richards and VanWinkle.
With the Patriots trailing 61-57 and desperately needing an offensive boost, Sagester responded by inserting senior Brett Boyter back in the lineup.
With 1:24 to go Boyter launched a triple that was the answer to the triangle drawing the PATS within one, 61-60.
“That was a huge shot,” Sagester said. “I can’t say enough about Brett Boyter … what a leader! He didn’t play much in the second half because we were trying to match up with their size and strength. They go triangle, and he comes in cold and makes a big shot. That speaks volumes for him,” Sagester said.
Unable to get a big stop all night … the Patriots got a break when Ponitz lost the ball out of bounds, setting up another dramatic finish at the Battleground.
Tri-Village ran a couple different looks in the last 30 seconds but was unable to get a good look, forcing the Patriots to call a timeout with four seconds .
Unfortunately they would have to in-bound the ball from the far corner with very little room to operate.
The Patriots tried to get the ball in-bounds, and it was deflected … but a very aware VanWinkle jumped in bounds tracked it down and delivered the finish … all while 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Brandon Falknor stood just a few feet away.
“We knew coming in they were going to be a good team that would pose problems with their athleticism,” Sagester said.
“They made it difficult on us getting the ball in bounds, and I’m taking no credit for that last play. It wasn’t drawn up that way. We were trying to run a triple decoy, slide Gavin down the backdoor and have Trace follow to the rim. They deflected the ball, and Tyler was aware enough track it down,” Sagester said.
“What can I say, he did it again, He has a moxie about him that is really uncanny,” Sagester said with a smile on the last second heroics of VanWinkle.
The Patriots got another improbable win to run their record to 10-1 at the halfway point in the season.
VanWinkle led the way with 19 points, Couch had 17 and Richards 12 in the win.
It was only fitting that Hall of Fame Inductee Brandon Falknor, class of 2001, would witness the dramatic finish. Falknor provided a number of dramatic finishes of his own during his playing days at Tri-Village.
One that stands out more than any other was the night he dropped 28 points on seven triples at Bethel, including the game winner in an upset over Bethel to give the Patriots a share of the Cross County Conference with the Bees in 2000.
Falknor was a three-year varsity letter winner in basketball. His achievements include: member of the 2000 CCC championship team, member of Jet Holiday Tournament championship teams in 2000 and 2001, Jet Holiday Tournament MVP in 2000 and 2001, Daily Advocate Male Athlete of the Year in 2001, District 9 All Star first team in 2001, special mention 2001 Boys Division IV all-Ohio team and boys Division IV all-Southwest basketball first team 2001.
In baseball Falknor earned four varsity letters. In 2000 he earned the highest batting average at .428, pitcher of the year and was a member of the first team CCC.
Score by quarters:
Tri-Village…….13…17…17…15 – 62
Ponitz Tech…..10…22…16…13 – 61
Tri-Village (10-1, 5-0)
Knox Morris 9, Tyler VanWinkle 19, Brett Boyter 3, Gavin Richards 12, Brandon Peters 2, Trace Couch 17 – Totals 5-18-10/13 – 62
Cooks 14, Garret 9, Staler 11, Johnson 4, Scott 13, Elmore 2, Copeland 2, Miles 6
Totals 4-19-11/15 – 61
Tri-Village – 5 (VanWinkle 2, Morris 1, Richards 1, Boyter 1)
Ponitz – 4 (Garret 3, Cook 1)