NEW MADISON – Bradford rallied late against Tri-Village Friday night, but the 20-point deficit the Railroaders had surrendered was too much to overcome as the Patriots took a 66-54 Cross County Conference win.
There weren’t many fireworks in the first quarter, just two teams playing hard-nosed defense, but the Patriots shook off a little rust and finally surged ahead on the inside scoring of Trace Couch with 8 points to go up 13-8.
The Patriots expanded their lead on a triple by Gavin Richards to 18-8 before the Roaders mounted a charge.
Alex Swabb was fouled on a drive making 1-of-2 free throws, then Andy Branson connected on runner, followed by two charity tosses by Johnny Fike, a stick-back from Josh Phillips and a triple by Parker Smith, and the Railroaders had knotted the game at 18 with 3:37 to play in the second quarter.
Tri-Village closed strong with Richards scoring 8 points and Couch 7 for a 30-20 lead at the break.
TV continued to exploit the post as the Railroaders lacked the size inside to slow down Couch; he rolled for another 10 points in the third as the Patriots went up 45-29.
Bradford wasn’t ready to concede anything and continued to battle, compete and play hard all the way to the wire. The Roaders finished with a flurry of 3-pointers, connecting on six of their 10 for the game in the final stanza … but it was too little too late, dropping a 66-54 decision to Tri-Village.
“What you saw tonight on the floor is the same thing I see every day in practice,” Bradford boys basketball coach Mackenzie Perry said. “These guys work extremely hard, and they are now bringing it to the game and starting to believe in themselves. But to get to the next level and to be able to keep up with Tri-Village you have got to execute. You can’t turn the ball over, and when you have opportunities to make free throws you need to make them as well.”
Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester agreed on the Roaders’ effort.
“Defensively we struggled at times, giving up 25 in the fourth quarter because we didn’t keep guys in front of us and that created offense for them. I give them credit. When you knock down 10 3s in a game you got a real chance of being competitive, and that’s what Bradford did tonight. They played an inspired game,” Sagester said.
In the end the Roaders fell short and just couldn’t stop the inside game of Tri-Village.
“Anytime you get 36 points on 14 field goals from your post player inside that’s a good night,” Sagester said. “I thought Trace rushed himself early, then he settled down and imposed his will on the block, and that was big for us tonight.”
Bradford countered with 22 points from junior Andy Branson.
“Andy Branson is a great player,” Perry said. “The kid is always in the gym trying to shoot and get better. He takes on every challenge head on, and I’m just really excited about the way he is coming along and looking forward to the rest of this year and next year as he works to try and get to the next level.”
Richards added 18 points for the Patriots and Smith 13 for the Railroaders.
The Patriots improved to 4-4 on the year and will host Arcanum on Tuesday.
Bradford, which fell to 0-10, travels to Newton on Tuesday.
Score by quarters:
Tri-Village … 13…17…15…21 – 66
Bradford …… 08…12…09…25 – 54
Tri-Village: McCullough 5, Wilson 3, Richards 18, Couch 36, Ricker 4
Totals: 2-22-16/26 – 66
Bradford: Smith 13, Branson 22, Fike 6, Swabb 9, Phillips 4
Totals: 10-8-8/16 – 54