Fourth quarter run gives Lady Patriots win over Willard


By Drew Terhall

VERSAILLES — It was a challenging game for the Lady Patriots in the Prosperity Promotions Lady Tiger Classic. After the game was tied 28-28 in the fourth quarter, Tri-Village went on a 20-6 run to end the game and pick up the win over Willard on Jan. 15 at Versailles.

Head coach Brad Gray said he would have liked to see the team separate themselves earlier in the game, but they couldn’t hit shots early. He also said they found out three to four hours before tip off they would be without senior Bella Black.

The team fought through some adversity to find a way to get the job done.

“We weathered the storm a little bit. I thought we were maybe not at our best in the beginning. We found a way in the end, which is really important. Especially for a young group,” Gray said.

Both teams struggled early. Willard scored the game’s first points at the 3:48 mark. The Lady Patriots had a hard time getting the ball inside to sophomore Kynnedi Hager and they couldn’t hit outside shots.

After being down in the first quarter, Tri-Village started to get to the free throw line and grabbed the lead that way. They were 8 for 12 from the free throw line in the second quarter.

The Lady Patriots led 17-10 at halftime. To the start the third quarter, Tri-Village started to slowly extend their lead. Gray said the defense helped generate some offense as they got out in transition.

“Our defense created some turnovers. Our penetration was a little bit better from mid third quarter and on. We were able to kind of put pressure on them. We still didn’t really hit perimeter that much. But, we got a couple key ones when we needed them,” Gray said.

But, Willard hung in and made a few shots to inch closer to Tri-Village as they made a small run to end the third quarter.

Once Willard tied the game, Hager started to take over. Earlier in the game, Willard swarmed Hager and either forced her into a turnover or forced a pass to reset the offense.

In the fourth quarter, Hager was able to keep the offense in rhythm by passing the ball out before the help defense arrived or finished around the rim. Gray said Hager is the type of player to let the game come to her and then once she figures out how teams are guarding her, she will attack and make her impact on the game.

With Hager and the defense getting the offense going, Tri-Village broke open the game and got the double-digit win.

Hager was named the game’s MVP and led the Lady Patriots with 13 points. Sophomore Tai Mize and freshman Kenna Wilcox each had nine points.

Gray said it was great to be a part of this first time event at Versailles. He also said he enjoys playing in events like this that allow his team to play against teams from around the state they don’t normally get to play. He hopes they will be able to be a part of it in the future.

“As you would expect, Versailles runs a first class event. First time they’re having this event, it’s awesome. They’re taking care of the kids, taking care of the coaches. (There’s) a good lineup of games that I’m sure is going to be something that continues to get better. I’m hoping we get a chance to be a part of it again in the future sometime,” Gray said.

The Patriots will next play at National Trail on Jan. 18 at 7:15 p.m. They will then have a week off before they host Franklin Monroe on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. Gray said that will be a much needed break as they can figure out some things if they are still without Black.

Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]

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