By Drew Terhall
DAYTON — The Lady Patriots are bringing a title back to New Madison. The Tri-Village High School girls basketball team defeated Toledo Christian, 52-50, in the Division IV State Championship game at UD Arena on Mar. 11 for the programs first title and finishing the season with a 30-0 record.
Head coach Brad Gray said the team stayed confident even when Toledo Christian was coming back during the game. The Lady Patriots remained calm and took care of business.
“Our kids have been really resilient all year. Their response to when things aren’t going our way has been really good. There was never a moment where doubt seeped into our minds. These kids stayed the course with what we were doing,” Gray said
Both teams were trying to find their footing in the first quarter. It took awhile for both teams to get into an offensive flow. Tri-Village was having trouble with turnovers while Toledo Christian were committing fouls early.
With 3:30 left in the second quarter, Toledo Christian had a 19-17 lead. The Lady Patriots did not let the Lady Eagles go into halftime with the lead. Tri-Village went on a 9-0 run to take a 26-19 lead into halftime.
Gray said the team being able to score points quickly after giving up a basket helped the team gain some momentum. Once the team gained some confidence, the half-court offense started to click.
Toledo Christian started the third quarter scoring five straight points. But like they did all game long, the Lady Patriots responded with a run of their own. Senior Rylee Sagester scored eight straight points, with two made threes, to pull away at the time.
It was a cycle back and forth of the Lady Eagles getting close to the Lady Patriots before Tri-Village responded. Senior Torie Richards said the three seniors were the leaders of this team and kept their teammates confidence up during the hard times. Senior Morgan Hunt said the team as a whole is better at responding to their mistakes.
“We might let some of our teammates down or make mistake. This year, we own. We know that we messed up so we’re going to go back on defense and get it back or someone scored on us then we’re going to go back and score on them,” Hunt said.
Tri-Village had a 42-35 lead entering the final quarter of the game. But two minutes into the quarter, Toledo Christian only trailed 44-42 after going on a 7-2 run.
The score remained the same until there was about 2:30 left in the game. Like they have all postseason, the Tri-Village seniors stepped up to lead their team to a victory.
On a Tri-Village possession, Hunt drove the ball down the lane and scored the basket while drawing the foul. Hunt said she knew she had an advantage in the post and something good would come out of her being aggressive to the basket.
She drilled the free throw to put the Lady Patriots up 47-42. Shortly after a defensive stop, Richards made a three-point shot to go up eight points.
Sagester said she knew her teammates would make plays this game and her two fellow seniors did just that.
Sagester finished the game with 20 points and three made three pointers. She finishes her basketball career at Tri-Village with over 2,000 career points and over 400 three-point shots made in a career.
Hunt had 11 points and Richards had nine points. Freshman Kynnedi Hager had 10 points in the game. Sagester said the team told her to be strong in the post and finish around the rim.
Gray said the three seniors on the team led them to this championship. Their play on the court and their leadership, especially with the freshmen on the team, was the difference for them compared to years past.
“They really led us to this. It took three years of heartbreak, but it built for this moment,” Gray said. “They led our freshmen as good, if not better, than any senior group I had. They welcomed both freshmen with open arms.”
For Sagester, Hunt and Richards, this is the end. But they get to go out on top of Division IV with an undefeated record.
“We went undefeated, but we’re done playing together. It’s emotional, because even though it’s the ultimate goal and what we’ve been planning, we’re never going to play together. It’s the best way to go out. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Richards said.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]