Lady Blackhawks basketball upsets Lady Patriots to earn spot in districts


By Drew Terhall

VERSAILLES — On Dec. 7, Tri-Village girls basketball defeated Mississinawa Valley 60-59 at home. This time around, the Lady Blackhawks didn’t let the game get that close late.

The fifth seed Lady Blackhawks upset the two seed Lady Patriots, 52-32, in the OHSAA Division IV Girls Basketball Southwest District Semifinals on Feb. 28 at Versailles High School.

Mississinawa Valley head coach Michael Paige said the team wanted this win and they went out and earned this win.

“We played well, our girls are wore out. We knew they would play well. We just had to play hard and stay focused on what we practiced,” Paige said.

For Tri-Village, they couldn’t get the offense going. Turnovers and missed shots killed any momentum they tried to create. Tri-Village head coach Brad Gray said Mississinawa Valley came out and played great while the ball couldn’t fall for them.

“We couldn’t make shots. You give them credit, they played outstanding tonight. It is what it is. They took us to the woodshed,” Gray said. “Tough one to swallow, but some nights the ball doesn’t fall. Tonight, it sure didn’t fall for us tonight.”

It was a close first half as both teams struggled to get anything going early. Paige said emotions were high to start and wanted the team to establish their defense first.

Both teams matched each other’s scoring throughout the first half. Mississinawa Valley couldn’t get shots to fall early while Tri-Village struggled with turnovers early.

Gray said they had some opportunities early they could have taken advantage of, but the turnovers costed them points. It didn’t translate to Mississinawa Valley points, it was just a lost opportunity for Tri-Village.

Mississinawa Valley junior Taylee Woodbury gave Mississinawa Valley their first lead of the game halfway through the second quarter with a three. With about 20 seconds left, Tri-Village sophomore Adalynn Hines tied the game with a three.

However, Mississinawa Valley senior MacKenzea Townsend got to the line before the first half ended and gave Mississinawa Valley an 18-17 lead.

Gray said there were times Mississinawa Valley out hustled his team down the floor and that could have costed them a few points.

The third quarter was the turning point in the game. In games where Tri-Village was struggling offensively, sophomore Kynnedi Hager was able to carry the offense in the second half.

In this game, Hager picked up her third foul within the first minute of the third quarter. She then sat out until halfway through the quarter. But once she got back in, she immediately picked up her fourth foul and went back to the bench.

Gray said the team was already facing an uphill battle in the second half. Not having Hager made it more challenging for them to find a way to win.

“Kynnedi getting the third foul really early in the third quarter, that helped them out. When they started to pull away a little bit, we tried to go back to Kynnedi because I felt like we needed to,” Gray said. “She picked up her fourth right away. At that point, it became extremely challenging.”

Paige said with Hager out for Tri-Village, they had the size advantage and were able to capitalize. Mississinawa Valley controlled the boards and were able to grab offensive rebounds.

The extra possessions helped give Woodbury all she needed to put her mark on the game. She had 12 points in the third quarter.

Paige said even when teams are game-planning to take Woodbury out of the game, she is a special player who can find ways to make an impact.

“She’s a leader. We expect her to step up in big moments. Our team rallies around her. If she gets going, our team gets going,” Paige said.

Mississinawa Valley outscored Tri-Village 17-5 in the third quarter. The Lady Patriots were stuck passing the ball around the perimeter and couldn’t get the ball inside often.

Players tried to step up for Tri-Village. Senior Bella Black did all she could playing in her first game back since January when she injured her finger. Gray said they wanted Black to play in a game before this one, but wasn’t cleared medically. With her finger heavily taped, she wasn’t her normal self.

Freshman Kenna Wilcox stepped up and hit some shots for Tri-Village. Gray said in a game where not many players shined, Wilcox was one of the few who shined.

“I though Kenna had an outstanding game. She plays with a lot of toughness and a lot of mental toughness. I think that’s something down the road that’s going to help us out as a program,” Gray said. “To put her in a situation where we had to really rely on her tonight was a tough ask. But, I thought she answered the bell.”

As the clock ran down in the fourth quarter, the Lady Blackhawks kept up their intensity and didn’t let up. Tri-Village kept fighting to try and make it game late, but the missed shots and turnovers still haunted them.

In front of what felt like the whole county, Mississinawa Valley was able to seal the game and head back to districts.

Both coaches loved competing in front of the big crowd. Gray said playing in this environment made it feel like a big game and makes high school athletics fun.

Paige said he hoped there would be a big crowd and the Mississinawa Valley community didn’t disappoint.

“We wanted everybody to show up and they did. Our student section was amazing. Just like when we played Union City, our student section helped us get this win tonight,” Paige said.

For Tri-Village, Wilcox led with 10 points. The next leading scorer was Hines with six points.

Black and senior Kiersten Wilcox end their Tri-Village career with their heads held high. They were a part of four conference championship teams, went to regionals in three of their four years and won a state championship last season.

Gray said while it’s tough to see now, he hopes both of them can take the time to remember all that they have accomplished while playing basketball at Tri-Village.

“While tonight really, really hurts. I think in a few weeks, maybe they can look at everything and say man they did a lot of neat things as basketball players at Tri-Village. It was a good experience for them,” Gray said. “Certainly, what they brought to the program this year, leading a very young, inexperienced team. I don’t think going into the year, very many people outside our locker room thought we would get to 20 wins or we would win another league title. They were able to accomplish that and those two, obviously, were a huge part of making our kids believe that.”

Tri-Village ends their season with a 20-5 record with an 11-0 WOAC record and end as outright WOAC champions.

Mississinawa Valley was led by Woodbury with 18 points. Sophomore Brooklynn Seubert chipped in nine points.

The Lady Blackhawks will play in their first District Championship game since 2011. Paige said while the goal is going to states, they have to focus on the challenge ahead and realize every game is a new game.

“Our goal is getting to states, I think that’s everybody’s goal. But, it’s one game at a time. Going to districts is huge for us, it’s big for the program. But it’s not our goal. Our goal is to go beyond that,” Paige said.

Mississinawa Valley will take on Legacy Christian on March 2 at Troy High School with tip off slated for 2:30 p.m.

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

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