TROY – In the last five years Tri-Village has won an astounding 14 games in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV Troy sectional. It was like playing on their home floor.
Friday night the Patriots ran into a gritty Yellow Springs team playing the spoiler, who did something no other Division IV team has done this year by knocking the Patriots from their lofty perch in a stunning 51-50 upset.
Springs denied the Patriots their fifth consecutive sectional title by converting some easy second-chance points along with timely made free throws down the stretch to hold off a last-minute charge.
It was a back-and-forth affair the whole night, but Tri-Village never got comfortable and was never able to wrestle control away from Yellow Springs.
In the first quarter Tri-Village tried to establish an inside game with its big man Trace Couch … but it was apparent early on you were going to have to be a man to finish inside, and the Patriots were really unable to get anything established in the paint.
With the Patriots holding a 9-6 lead at the 3:20 mark things were looking good … but the Bulldogs came back to go up 12-9 before Knox Morris answered with a foul line jumper to make it 12-11.
A long perimeter shot that missed badly ended up in the hands of a streaking Springs player under the basket, and it eventually led to a made 3-pointer to end the first quarter to give Springs a 14-11 lead.
That scenario played out three more times in the second quarter for Yellow Springs when the Bulldogs had a player in the right spot at the right time including two easy scores at the rim as they captured a 25-21 halftime lead.
“We didn’t track some loose balls down in the first half, and that was a concern going in, defensive rebounding. They converted those for some easy points, and that hurt us,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Josh Sagester said.
In the third quarter Tri-Village had its opportunities to tie the game … but every time the Patriots made a mistake Yellow Springs took advantage.
Twice the Patriots missed on point-blank opportunities, and each time it led to a break-out finish for Yellow Springs to help the Bulldogs keep control of the game, the last putting them up 35-31.
Tyler VanWinkle was fouled on a drive to basket just as the third quarter horn sounded, and the senior dropped both free throws to make it 35-33 going into the final stanza.
More importantly it put Tri-Village in the bonus and maybe the edge the Patriots would need to get back in the game.
Instantly Gavin Richards benefited by making two free throws to tie the game at 7:10 in the fourth quarter at 35.
Once again Yellow Spring answered with a bucket and another point-blank miss by the Patriots resulted in a fast-break basket by Yellow Springs, putting the Bulldogs back in control 39-35 with 6:23 to play.
Tri-Village got a fielder from Couch and two more free throws from VanWinkle to tie it back up at 39 at the 5:18 mark.
Each time the Patriots looked like they were going to take over Yellow Springs made plays, and this time the Bulldogs scored six straight to go up 45-39.
You don’t win 21 games without having a little moxie, and VanWinkle has shown plenty of that in his career as the senior got the Patriots to 45-43.
VanWinkle, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half and nine in the final period, looked like he made the play of the night with a drive to the basket that was good and a foul that would have tied the game and possibly given Tri-Village the lead.
Instead he was called for a charge that left the Patriot fans stunned and turned the momentum back toward Yellow Springs.
Yellow Springs who never had a single player score in double-digits on the night got all nine of Ethan DeWine’s points in the fourth quarter, and they would prove immeasurable.
On two straight possessions DeWine threw in awkward one-handed floaters including one from the free throw line and went 5-for-6 from the stripe to help preserve the dramatic 51-50 win for the Bulldogs and advance them to the district game at UD Arena.
“Tonight we couldn’t get over the hump. We didn’t finish,” a dejected Sagester said.
“High school basketball is a funny game. It’s a one-game shot. It’s not NBA where you play a series, and usually the best team in that series wins. But when you play a one-game shot in high school basketball anything can happen, and today was a direct indication,” Sagester said.
“We didn’t make free throws and didn’t finish around the rim.”
“Credit their kids. They made some shots and free throws down the stretch and played a nice ball game,” Sagester said.
“It was really hard to address our guys, especially the seniors in the locker room after the game.
“Tyler VanWinkle has had a tremendous career and is 77-6 after tonight. That’s tough to replace. He’s a winner, and I’ll be honest with you … I was pretty calm all night because I felt like he was going to make a play for us … but we ran out of time.
“Brett Boyter, Knox Morris and Brandon Peters were all three kids that worked really hard in our program and got an opportunity as seniors to play meaningful minutes. Great kids, kids who worked really hard and it paid off.
“They had a very good career. It’s a tough way to end though, not playing your best.
“Hopefully our young guys will learn from it and figure out what they need to do to compete at this level,” Sagester concluded.
Juniors Gavin Richards who scored 18 points, Trace Couch and Jonny Wilson are the next guys up and will be the Patriots counted on next year to erase the painful loss and start a new winning streak in Troy.
Score by quarters:
TV … 11 … 10 … 12 … 17 – 50
YS … 14 … 11 … 10 … 16 – 51
Morris 9, VanWinkle 14, Boyter 3, Richards 18, Couch 6
TOTALS – 7-8-15/23 – 50
Yellow Springs (19-6)
Plummer 7, Butler 8, Perry 4, DeWine 9, Marinelli 5, Clark 6, Browning 3, Taylor 9
TOTALS – 7-9-12/19 51
TV: 7 (Richards 4, Morris, VanWinkle, Boyter)
YS: 7 (Clark 2, Plummer, Perry, Marinelli, Browning, Taylor)