DAYTON – After trailing for most of the second half Friday night Tri-Village forced overtime and then pulled out a 38-33 victory over Jackson Center to reach the sweet 16 of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
The methodical pace of Friday’s district championship game wasn’t really what the Patriots wanted, Tri-Village boys basketball coach Josh Sagester said, but they found a way to beat the Tigers at their own game.
“Honestly this is what I thought it was going to be – it was going to be a slug fest,” Sagester said. “Both teams I think defend really well. Obviously Jackson Center is a very good team. Coach (Scott) Elchert’s been there a long time and had a lot of success. You know he’s going to be prepared. I don’t think we played our best, especially offensively, but what good teams do is find ways to win, and I thought we were able to do that tonight.”
Points were at a premium throughout Friday’s game at the University of Dayton. Tri-Village limited Jackson Center to a single basket in the first quarter, a 3-pointer by Bryce Sosby with 2:25 remaining in the period.
The Patriots, meanwhile, got off to a good start with a basket by Jared Buckley, a free throw from Gavin Richards and a 3-pointer by Jonny Wilson to go up 6-0 in the first four minutes of the game. Richards also added a buzzer-beating field goal that put Tri-Village up 8-3 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter the fortunes turned for both squads. After making three of its four field goal attempts in the first quarter, Tri-Village only made one of eight in the second quarter. Jackson Center improved from one of eight shooting in the first quarter to three of five in the second quarter.
With the Tigers starting to hit their stride Jackson Center scored the first six points of the second quarter to take its first lead of the night at 9-8. Dillon McCullough made a basket to briefly regain the lead for Tri-Village, but Jackson Center scored again to go into halftime up 11-10.
“We were trying to push it too deep,” Sagester said of the second quarter struggles. “We didn’t take a lot of perimeter shots, and they did a good job of taking Trace (Couch) away. I don’t think he scored in the half. He’s a 20-point (a game) scorer. We had to get him involved. We had to get him the ball. We were able to do that in the second half a little bit more and obviously get to the free throw line.”
Four of the game’s eight lead changes came in the third quarter with Richards and Wilson leading the charge for Tri-Village. Jackson Center finished the period up 23-18, though, with a late 3-pointer from Gavin Booser putting the Tigers ahead and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Christopher Elchert increasing the advantage to 5 points.
In the fourth quarter Tri-Village chipped away at Jackson Center’s lead. Then with 34 seconds remaining in regulation Trey Frech hit a 3-pointer, which was his only shot taken all night and Tri-Village’s only points from a non-starter all night, to knot the score a 29-29.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Trey Frech,” Sagester said. “Hits one 3 on the night and none bigger than the 29-26 3 he makes.”
Both teams had a chance for the winning basket in the final seconds, but neither converted, forcing overtime.
In the overtime period Tri-Village scored the first 4 points with 2 each from Couch and McCullough, giving the Patriots a lead they never relinquished on their way to the 38-33 victory.
“Really proud of our kids,” Sagester said. “We just found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty. We were just gritty, and we grinded it out, and that’s kind of how Jackson Center makes you play if you look at all of their scores on their schedule.”
Richards led Tri-Village with 12 points Friday night. Also for the Patriots, Wilson scored 8 points, Couch scored 7, McCullough scored 6, Frech scored 3, and Buckley scored 2.
Brady Wildermuth led Jackson Center with a game-high 13 points. Also for the Tigers, Booser scored 9 points, Christopher Elchert scored 6, Sosby scored 3, and Trent Platfoot scored 2.
Tri-Village now advances to play Cincinnati Christian in the regional semifinals at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Trent Arena in Kettering. Cincinnati Christian beat Southeastern 54-52 in overtime Friday night.