WEST ALEXANDRIA – Twin Valley South hung with the Tri-Village girls basketball team for almost a quarter, and then Tri-Village punched the accelerator and South could not keep pace.
At one point late in the first quarter it was 14-8, and it seemed that the Panthers were going to hang with the Patriots. But the Patriots finished the quarter on a run that lasted the remainder of the game.
The run was sparked mainly by junior Allie Downing, who scored a career-high 34 points on the night. The Patriot defense was spot on as well – holding the Panthers to just 28 points while the Patriots scored 74, keeping their conference record unblemished.
South coach Jeff Case would later remark that the Panthers had the game close at about the six-minute mark.
“But the Patriots took a timeout, and they flipped a switch and took off,” Case said. “And we just could not keep up. We are young yet and are just not up to that level. But we played hard from whistle to whistle, and we did the things that we can.”
The Patriots utilized their trademark press and half court man to man to keep the pressure on the Panthers defensively. They did go to a zone in the last quarter and called off the press after they had a decent lead.
The Panthers used a zone in their half-court offense, and the Patriots alternately scored from the perimeter and also worked the ball inside when they needed to in their half-court offense.
The Patriot press also created scoring opportunities as they were able to snag stray passes and run the court for layups. The Panthers resorted to the press in the second half but were unable to generate very many turnovers.
Downing was not the only player who shot well. As a team Tri-Village was 30 of 45 (67 percent) from the field and 12 of 22 (54 percent) from the 3-point line. So it was a respectable night shooting-wise for the team.
Also scoring were Rachel Miller with 10, Danika Mann nine, Emma Printz with seven, Alana Holsapple four, Edie Morris four, Meghan Brandon three and Brooke Godown one.
Despite being the stronger team, Tri Village did not relax in the game. A lot of teams might let up, but the Patriots kept up the intensity and did not let up on offense or defense.
Like their counterparts on the boys side, the Tri-Village girls currently lead the Cross County Conference – but with the season winding down in couple of weeks and both the league championship in sight and the state tournament on the horizon the Patriot teams are honing their play.
“It was good for us to come out and stay focused throughout the game,” Tri-Village coach Brad Gray said. “Sometime in games like this you can lose focus. Our second and third quarter effort I was the most impressed with. We shot very well in the game.
“In games like this we give them challenges,” Gray said of keeping his team focused. “We break the game down in two- or four-minute increments where we want to score eight but hold them to zero. Or score in a difference offensive set. Tell them what shot we want off of a given set. But really they are self-motivated group, which is nice.”
The next game for Tri-Village is Arcanum – who the Patriots beat in the first weekend of the season in a tournament.
“It is always a battle against Arcanum,” Gray said. “We played them in the championship game and were fortunate to beat them by six. Both teams have improved since then. We watched a little film on them, and they are similar to us. They like to run the court. They like to get on you with man-to-man defense, so I see this being a fast-paced basketball game. The styles are similar, and whoever can execute better on that day will win.”