KETTERING – Too many second half turnovers cost Tri-Village Tuesday night as the Patriots lost 49-42 to Cincinnati Christian in the regional semifinals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
Unofficially the Patriots had 21 turnovers in Tuesday’s game, which Tri-Village boys basketball coach Josh Sagester said was their downfall.
“We obviously didn’t handle the basketball very well in the second half,” he said. “I thought we really struggled to pass and dribble. When you do those things against a pretty good team you’re going to struggle.”
The game didn’t end the way Tri-Village had hoped, but it started off really well for the Patriots. Jared Buckley scored the team’s first two baskets of the night, which along with points from Gavin Richards and Dillon McCullough helped Tri-Village build an 8-7 lead.
“I thought he had a great night,” Sagester said of Buckley, who led the Patriots with 7 points in the first half. “I thought he played really, really hard. I thought he battled. He was a warrior. He picked up a couple silly fouls. We got on him a little bit, but to me I thought he played really hard. I thought his motor was high tonight. Went and got some balls and finished. He’s just a tough kid and made some plays for us.”
Tri-Village extended its lead to 21-17 in the second quarter with scoring from Richards, Trace Couch, Buckley, Trey Frech and McCullough.
“I thought the first half went exactly how we wanted it,” Sagester said. “It was very methodical.”
But in the second half the tide started to turn. Cincinnati Christian picked up its defensive intensity, which led to a quicker pace and more turnovers.
“The second half they went to doubling the first pass, and we struggled with it,” Sagester said. “We weren’t strong with the ball and didn’t necessarily find the open man and when we did we kind of retreated instead of attacking the rim. I give them credit; that was a good adjustment. What it did was get us out of the things we wanted to do and sped us up and got going with some transition, the way they wanted to play.”
By the end of the third quarter Cincinnati Christian had tied the score at 34-34.
The momentum remained with Cincinnati Christian in the early moments of the fourth quarter as the Cougars scored the first 5 points of the period, going up 39-34.
Cincinnati Christian then took its turn slowing down the pace before Richards scored 4 quick points to reduce the Tri-Village deficit to a single point with 2:57 remaining.
Tri-Village never could over the hump, though. In the fourth quarter the Patriots cut the Cougar lead to a single point on three separate occasions, the last coming with just 44 seconds remaining. But Cincinnati Christian was able to hold on, scoring the game’s final 6 points to win 49-42.
“Disappointing ending,” Sagester said. “Obviously it was a good run, but nobody likes to end the way we did.”
Richards led Tri-Village with 13 points in the regional semifinal loss. Also for the Patriots, Buckley scored 10 points, Couch scored 9, McCullough scored 4, Frech scored 3, and Jonny Wilson scored 3.
Christian Keese led Cincinnati Christian with a game-high 17 points. Also for the Cougars, Dylan Woods scored 10 points, Brady Roberts scored 7, Daniel Nimmo scored 5, Nick Hesselgesser scored 2, Josh Oates scored 2, Cameron Rogers scored 2, Elijah Taylor scored 2, and Sam Wells scored 2.
Tuesday’s loss ended Tri-Village’s season and the high school basketball careers of the three Patriot seniors: Couch, Richards and Wilson.
“Gavin Richards has had a phenomenal career,” Sagester said. “I’m just disappointed for him that he had to end as he did tonight. But he’s got a phenomenal league record, overall record, a state champion. He’s a great kid. He’s meant a lot to the program.
“Jonny Wilson’s been a rock for us all year long. He’s a senior captain. He had a great run in the tournament. Really good kids. Made some big plays for us in this run.
“Obviously Trace had a great year for us in the post. I know he’s a little upset, didn’t necessarily finish the way he wanted to finish, but he really had a good two years at Tri-Village and had a really good senior year.
“Those three guys are going to be missed obviously on the court and off. Will be tough to replace.”