VANDALIA – Tri-Village ran into a better team defensively Thursday night as the Minster Wildcats ended the Patriots’ season in the sweet 16 with a 41-27 loss in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV regional girls basketball tournament.
Minster advanced to the elite 8 where the Wildcats will take on Fort Loramie, who bested Covington 32-27 in the other regional semifinal game. Minster defeated the Redskins in the regular season 35-26. The winner of Saturday’s game will earn a state final four berth.
The tone of the game – defense – was set early with neither team scoring in the first four-and-a-half minutes until Minster got on the board first.
Down 4-0 with two minutes left in the first quarter, the Patriots responded by going on 7-0 run that started with a triple from Emma Printz followed by a jumper from Trissa Porter and a fielder inside from Maddie Downing to put Tri-Village in the lead, 7-4.
Minster responded, connecting on three triples in the last minute of the first quarter, to go back on top 13-7.
“Early in the game our 3s were off-ball reversals,” Minster girls basketball coach Mike Wiss said. “Once we got the ball in from one side we kicked it opposite for a step-in 3, and it was more positive for our shooters.”
After Tri-Village closed to 13-10, the Wildcats went on another 7-0 run to go up 20-10 as the Patriots struggled to generate any offense against a suffocating half-court defense.
From Tri-Village basketball coach Brad Gray’s perspective, it was “a wow-factor defense” regarding Minster’s half-court defense.
“If you’re sitting a few rows up in the stands and watching you’d say they’re really a good team defensively,” Gray added. “You don’t understand how good they are unless you’re standing there on the sidelines and you’re watching your kids struggle to get shots off. Believe me, I know how good we are offensively, and when we can’t get shots off and execute things offensively that we typically execute extremely well, it was very difficult for us tonight.”
Tri-Village only scored 4 more points in the second quarter and trailed 26-14 at the half.
Against most teams a 12-point deficit wouldn’t be a concern, but in this case with shots few and far between it would take a monumental effort to overcome.
The Patriots came out in the third quarter and tried to attack the overly aggressive man-to-man pressure by taking the ball to the rim and found some success with Porter scoring 4 points, Andi Bietry 3 and Lissa Siler 2, their highest scoring quarter of the night with 9 points, but yet they still trailed 35-23 heading into the final stanza.
Siler, who averages 14 points, was held to just those 2 points in the third quarter. Downing, who averages 13 points, had 7 along with Printz to lead Tri-Village in scoring. Porter, who averages 10 points, had 6 on the night.
There would be no magical comeback for Tri-Village as Minster secured the 41-27 win over the Patriots. Tri-Village was eliminated from the regional semifinals for the second year in a row.
While it was a surprise that the experienced Patriots squad bowed out last year at the same stage, likewise it was a pleasant surprise this year’s squad reached the same level with four sophomores and a junior as starters. A loss is never easy, but the experience this group garnered is sure to fuel them over the summer and fall to come back physically and mentally tougher knowing what it’s going to take if they want to go even further next year.
“They (Minster) are an unbelievable D-IV girls basketball team,” Gray said, reflecting on the game afterwards.
“They play like nine or 10 kids who are really good, and at this level you don’t see that. That’s Division I or II type stuff at the high school level. You don’t see a lot of D-IV teams trying to play that many kids because there is a tremendous drop off when they do that. Minster, there is no real big drop off,” Gray added.
“They are so athletic and physical. We just don’t have enough ball-handlers to combat that pressure,” Gray said. “We have just two kids to handle the ball the whole time, and they were getting really gassed. I give Andi and Trissa a lot of credit; I’m not sure how many turnovers we had, but I didn’t feel like they killed us … we just had a hard time getting quality shots in the half-court – Minster is just really good.
“We probably stayed in our zone a little too long early in the game … but I was concerned whether or not we could maintain pressure on them for 32 minutes playing the amount of kids we play,” Gray said. “Hindsight being 20-20, I feel like I should have given that a shot earlier than I did. It’s just really tough for us to play half-court against them. We needed to create transition opportunities earlier, and we didn’t do that,” Gray said.
Tri-Village concluded the season with a 21-6 record and for the fifth time in the last eight years won a district championship.
The Patriots say good-bye to three seniors: Autumn Moore, Lauren Flory and Kayla Burke.
Coach Gray was more than happy to extol the value and contributions they made to the program over the last four years.
“The only thing they have done for us the last four years is everything we asked of them. I don’t think people understand how important that is to a program when you have kids who do everything you’ve asked them to do for four years,” Gray said. “When you throw on top of that those three girls when it’s their senior year … you’ve waited for your opportunity and then you have some young kids step in and earn their roles on the team, that’s not an easy thing to take all the time. Those kids came in every single day and worked as hard as they possibly could 100 percent of the time. There was never a time they felt sorry for themselves or questioned what we were doing and thinking, ‘Coach I should be out there and not this kid’ – they just played and led by example displaying great senior leadership. I don’t think people understand how important that is. Sometimes they just see the five kids on the floor or the six or seven in the rotation. It’s hard to be a great basketball team if you don’t have good senior leaders. We had great senior leadership, and I just want to thank them for that and wish them the best going forward.”
Score by quarters
TV … 07 … 07 … 09 … 04 – 27
MI … 13 … 13 … 09 … 07 – 41
Tri-Village – Emma Printz 7, Trisa Porter 6, Andi Bietry 5, Lissa Siler 2, Maddie Downing 7; Totals 1-9-6/11 – 27
Minster – Fischer 6, I. Wolf 8, Thobe 3, Barhorst 4, Falk 3, Prenger 5, W. Wolf 5, Hoying 7;
Totals 4-8-10/16 – 41