NEW MADISON – It was a classic battle between Tri-Village and visiting Arcanum Lady Trojans in girls basketball Saturday afternoon.
“Forget about state rankings, this game is a rivalry game. It has always been a tough game for us … but these are the fun games to play, and they are great preparation to help us get better for the tournament,” Tri-Village coach Brad Gray said.
Arcanum would do just that as the Trojans pushed the Patriots till the very end with Tri-Village pulling out the win by a score of 49-45.
Arcanum came out firing with guns a blazing in the opening quarter with Abby Ross, Elle Siculan and Alexis Abner torching the net from beyond the arch as the Trojans went on top in the game 9-5.
Tri-Village would answer behind Allie Downing and a trey from Rachel Miller to grab the lead 10-9.
The Patriots would end the quarter up 14-11. Downing had seven points and Miller five.
The two teams would both put eight on the board in the second quarter and head into the locker room at the half with TV leading 22-19.
In the third quarter the Patriots defense shined, holding Arcanum to just six points.
The Patriots found success inside with Danika Mann going for five points and got a big triple from Shelbey Dowler in the corner as the PATS went up 34-23 and looking like they were in complete control.
Arcanum, however, wouldn’t go away. The Trojans started to chip away at the lead, and it was all Stevie Johnting and Abner.
Johnting had eight points in the final period including a triple that helped close the gap to 36-32.
Abner scored 13 of her 17 total points in the final stanza, and she got Arcanum to within one point with a basket and the harm at 2:30 to go, trailing 36-35.
The Patriots got a little breathing room from Mann with a left-handed hook and the charity toss. Moments later it was a pull-up jumper from Downing, and TV was back out in front 42-36.
Back came the Trojans with Abner putting the team on her shoulders … she would get Arcanum within a bucket at 45-43 with 17 seconds to play.
The Patriots then threw a baseball pass over the top of the full-court press, and Downing caught it in stride and finished a left-handed layup to go back up 47-43.
Abner answered again, getting to the rim and cutting it back to 47-45 with 4.5 seconds … but Arcanum simply ran out of time as the Patriots finished it at the line to earn the win 49-45.
“Wow, this is what you coach for and play for, is games like this,” an ecstatic Gray said after the game.
“We played them real hard,” Arcanum coach Matt Grote said.
“There was a sense in the locker before the game our girls were ready. They know it’s a big rivalry game. They played hard. A mistake here or there, and the game could have gone either way.
“We knew they would make runs. One thing we talked about in those situations was to control how we react by not coming down and chucking up a quick shot. That’s something we have improved on since the beginning of the year. We kept making plays, made stops and got it down to one then back down to two there at the end. We gave ourselves a chance, we came up short … but I’m really proud of them,” Grote concluded.
Arcanum was led in scoring by Abner with 17 and Johnting with 15 points.
Arcanum fell to 11-8 overall and 7-3 in the conference … but more importantly the Trojans are playing good basketball at the right time of the year and are primed to make some noise in the postseason tournament.
The Patriots were led in scoring by Downing with 21 and Mann with 10.
Tri-Village is now 16-1 overall and 10-0 in the conference. The win over Arcanum assured the Patriots a Cross County Conference title with just two league games left.
“To be honest if you would have asked me if we were the favorite coming into the season last year or this year to win a CCC title, I would have said no,” Gray said. “It’s very rewarding to be able to win back-to-back titles and a credit to our kids who worked hard and found ways to win games. Hopefully we can continue to do that.
“Conference championships are not easy to come by. Miami East has had a stranglehold on this conference when they came in the CCC. It’s been between us and them the last couple of years, and Newton, Arcanum and Covington all have thrown their hat in the ring as of late … the conference as a whole is getting better. It’s not an easy conference to win a title with 13 teams, so we are very proud of this accomplishment,” Gray said.
This would be the third title for Gray as coach, matching a couple of his predecessors: Jim Maples and Roger Collins at Tri-Village. It would also be the 10th team title for Tri-Village as well.
Tri-Village will face two more stern tests in non-league action to prepare the Patriots for the tournament with a date against Versailles on Feb. 2 and Fort Recovery on Feb. 6, both in New Madison.
Score by quarters:
Tri-Village .14 … 08 … 12 … 15 – 49
Arcanum …11… 08 … 06 … 20 – 45
Tri-Village (16-1, 10-0)
Rachel Miller 8, Allie Downing 21, Shelbey Dowler 3, Brooke Godown 2, Danika Mann 10 – Totals 2-13-17/26 – 49
Arcanum (11-8, 7-3)
Abby Ross 5, Elle Siculan 4, Alexis Abner 17, Stevie Johnting 15, Rebecca Deao 2, Madison O’Daniel 2 – Totals 4-12-9/14 – 45
Tri-Village – 2 (Miller 1, Dowler 1)
Arcanum – 4 (Johnting 2, Ross 1, Siculan 1)