ARCANUM – In mixing up the potion for an upset of No. 2 state ranked Tri-Village, Arcanum coach Matt Grote surely would have thought that holding the Lady Patriots’ scoring leaders Allie Downing and Danika Mann to a combined 20 points would certainly guarantee victory for his Lady Trojans.
But despite this great defensive effort by the Lady Trojans, a stellar performance by Tri-Village’s Rachel Miller allowed the Lady Patriots to prevail 47-43 in a hotly contested Cross County Conference match-up on Arcanum’s senior night Thursday evening.
“Tri-Village played a heck of a game,” Coach Grote said. “They have a bunch of girls that can play. We shut down Downing, hold down Mann and then Miller gets 18.”
“I’m partial toward point guards,” Tri-Village girls basketball coach Brad Gray said. “They are vital to a team’s success, and we’ve had a lot of success with her (Miller). She doesn’t get the recognition she deserves from everybody, including myself … but boy did she prove her value to this team.”
Tri-Village took control of this game in the early going. After some initial sparring the Lady Patriots went on a 10-0 run with the score 8-6 to assume a comfortable lead. Mann scored 10 of her 15 points in the period by receiving good passes down on the block.
Arcanum had difficulty in the early going penetrating the perimeter of the Tri-Village defense. This caused the Lady Trojans to take several 3-point shots of which two fell in during the period. As the quarter ended Arcanum began to penetrate on offense and began to increase its pressuring of the ball defensively.
The Lady Trojans got early treys from seniors McKenzie Sharritts and Stevie Johnting to cut into the deficit and a strong second quarter defense that allowed the Lady Patriots to score just 6 points. This enabled the orange and black to move within 24-20 by halftime.
“Got away from what we did early,” Coach Gray said. “Thought they had a difficult time defending our inside stuff … once we got that going we hit a few jumpers and were able to play inside out … then perimeter players started taking jumpers too quick … later part of the first and second quarter weren’t getting same inside looks.”
“We started coming back with our defense,” Coach Grote said. “We started to execute the game plan that was huge defensively and got a couple of stops. Offense settled for a lot of 3s … started attacking more and getting fouled.”
The third quarter opened with both teams struggling to score. Arcanum managed to score the first 4 points to tie the game at 24 with 5:44 remaining in the period when Mann picked up her third personal foul.
The Lady Trojans got a field goal from Johnting to tie the score and then a triple by Sharritts gave them a 3-point lead at 29-26 with 3:44 to go in the third. The fans were beginning to smell upset, and when Mann was called for an offensive foul at the 3:28 mark, things were looking good for Arcanum.
The Arcanum offensive momentum was quickly dashed as when Mann exited the Lady Patriots employed a half-court zone press that seemed to mystify the Lady Trojans for a while. The turnovers it created gave Tri-Village a chance to regroup and with a Miller 3-ball before the buzzer tied the score at 33.
The teams exchanged 3-pointers to open the fourth, Downing for Tri-Village and Madi O’Daniel for Arcanum. The Lady Patriots slowly started to take a lead. Consecutive baskets by Miller gave Tri-Village a 5-point lead at 43-38. After an Arcanum field goal four straight free throws by Miller and Trisa Porter in the final 30 seconds sealed the deal.
“We had some kids make some big time plays,” Coach Gray said. “Sign of a good team when players really step up when it matters.”
Coach Grote praised his seniors.
“Great group of kids,” he said. “Five seniors … Kaitlyn (Zell) played so many minutes after recovering from a broken finger. It was amazing. Madi hits some big shots and guarded Danica Mann all night. Britt (Kinney) played a lot of positions and rebounded. Sharritts hit a couple of 3s from the corner. Stevie got to the rim and line … to guard Downing all game and have to score.”
Miller led all scorers with 18 and Mann added 15 for Tri-Village. Johnting paced the Lady Trojans with 13.
The Lady Patriots are now 19-0 and have clinched at least a share of the conference championship. Arcanum is now 13-7 on the season.