By Drew Terhall
VANDALIA — It was a tough, physical game between the Tri-Village High School girls basketball team and the Marion Local High School girls basketball team at Butler High School on March 2. Both teams went all out on defense to not only get a win, but move on to the Regional final.
In this Division IV Regional semifinal, the Lady Patriots came away with a 50-38 win over the Lady Flyers. Head coach Brad Gray said Marion gave the team all they could handle, but the seniors on the team stepped up when they needed to.
“They had a really good game plan. They made us work really hard in the half-court offense. Their man to man defense was legit and we knew it was going to be,” Gray said. “They did everything they needed to do to keep the game interesting. Our kids found a way to rely on some experience down the stretch.”
Marion Local started out with the lead for most of the first quarter. They were frustrating Tri-Village with their defense and caused some turnovers early.
The Lady Patriots settled down and eventually claimed a lead in the final seconds of the first quarter. Senior Rylee Sagester made a three-point shot to give the team a 13-11 lead going into the second quarter. From that point on, Tri-Village would not trail again.
Sagester showed off her range in the first half. She had three made three pointers and all with a hand in her face. Gray said Marion did a great job forcing the ball out of Sagester’s hands. When Sagester was able to get the ball, she made the most of it.
Senior Morgan Hunt also stepped up on offense. Gray said they wanted to have Hunt play in the post, but with Marion Local preventing Sagester from getting the ball often Hunt had to take up the ball at times.
At halftime, Hunt and Sagester each had 11 points and had 22 of the team’s 25 points. The Lady Flyers were doing everything they could to throw off the rhythm of the Tri-Village offense. Gray said as the game went on, he relied on his seniors to get the job done offensively.
“It got to a point where we weren’t really even running a whole lot. It was just Rylee get the ball, Morgan get the ball, go be the two best players on the floor and win this game for us. That’s really what it came down to,” Gray said.
The second half was more of the same. Both teams were playing physical defense and both teams felt the impact of the physicality of the game. There were times where both teams missed open shots that could have swung the momentum of the game in their favor.
Instead, both teams continued to fight it out with their defense. Gray said the team remained confident during the game as the seniors kept the team confident. They have played in these types of games before and this type of game doesn’t phase them.
The Lady Patriots were also dealing with some foul trouble. Senior and the team’s best defender Torie Richards had four fouls late in the game. Gray said not having a lot of depth could hurt them with foul trouble, but the team has been able to avoid those kinds of problems so far.
“That’s going to be our Achilles heel. Everybody knows that we’re only playing basically six kids, every once in awhile seven kids. If we get in foul trouble, probably going to be a problem for us. Just call it what it is. Fortunately this year, we’ve been able to stay out of foul trouble when we needed to,” Gray said.
As the game ticked down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Tri-Village made many key shots to seal the win. Richards made a three to take a five-point lead. Freshman Kynnedi Hager had a layup and two made free throws to kill some momentum the Lady Flyers were gaining. Sagester made a three to extend their lead to a six-point lead with about 1:30 left in the game.
While the shots didn’t fall consistently, the team found a way to make their shots when they mattered the most.
Sagester finished the game with a game high 22 points. Hunt finished the game with 14 points. Richards had eight points.
The Lady Patriots will take on Fort Loramie on Mar. 4 back at Butler High School. Game is set for a 1 p.m. tipoff.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]