NEW MADISON – The 2017-18 Tri-Village boys basketball team will be one of change.
The 2016-17 team was third in the Cross County Conference with a 9-3 record and 19-8 overall, winning an Ohio High School Athletic Association district title.
Gone are first team all-league performers Trace Couch and Gavin Richards along with special mention performer Johnny Wilson.
Also gone is Coach Josh Sagester, who stepped down to spend more time with his family. Sagester leaves a long resume of success after 13 years at the helm of the Patriots that includes a state championship in 2015, state runner-up in 2014, four district titles and four CCC titles.
Sagester accumulated 241 wins for an average of 18.5 wins a year that left him just shy of the all-time boys record of 248 wins set by Lee Falknor in 19 years of coaching at Tri-Village.
Stepping in to lead Tri-Village this year is an energetic Mackenzie Perry, who was the head man at Bradford the last couple of seasons.
Perry will be assisted by Jason Koffer and David Barger, who will be coaching the junior varsity team.
Although the roster is filled with upperclassmen, it will be short on varsity experience. There are five seniors and six juniors on the varsity roster.
The Patriots will be led by a 6-foot senior forward Jared Buckley, who can post up or square up and take opponents off the dribble.
Trey Frech, a 5-foot 7-inch senior, is a long-range threat anytime he has the ball in his hands.
Noah Burns, a 5-foot 9-inch senior guard, can shoot from the perimeter or get to the rim off the bounce.
Christian Ricker, a 6-foot 3-inch senior forward, is a good shot blocker and rebounder.
Cameron Sterrett, a 6-foot 1-inch post player, can wall up opponents on defense and is a solid post on offense.
Juniors on the squad are Austin Bruner, Derek Eyer, Gage Hileman, Mason Coby, Darrell Lee and Mason Sullenbarger to round out the varsity team.
The Patriots will be a new look and style, and Coach Perry is very motivated and excited to get started.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to be here at Tri-Village and follow a coach like Josh Sagester,” Perry said. “It is an honor. When I got the phone call from them I was ecstatic they felt I was worthy of holding this position. After coaching at Bradford and Troy Christian and competing against Tri-Village, I know how important basketball is to this school and community.
“Knowing that there is pressure and an expectation of winning, my goal is not to have a drop-off and to continue the tradition of winning. If that means competing for a conference title and going far into the tournament then so be it,” Perry said.
“It’s a pressure that I love, and I’m glad I don’t have to build a winning mentality because they already have that here. These boys believe they will win, and I just need to uphold that standard of excellence,” Perry added.
“Offensively we plan to run sets; some of them I ran at Bradford are the same as what Sagester ran. My philosophy on offense is that all our players are offensive threats, not necessarily just one or two kids are getting all the shots. We’ll run our offense and see what the defense is giving us. Some nights Trey Frech might go off, and we’ll feed him the ball. Some nights it might be Jared Buckley or it might be Noah Burns, Christian Ricker, Darrell Lee or Derek Eyer. I’m not looking for the mentality that I haven’t touched the ball in a while so it’s my turn to shoot. I see five, six, maybe even seven or eight kids who can score depending on what the defense presents.
“We are preaching don’t go for the good shot, go for the great shot … really stressing the team concept here. It will require some patience but if a guy is open for a 5-foot shot instead of a 20-foot contested shot, or vice versa, a guy is trying to score inside with two guys on him when he can kick it out for a wide open three, those are the great shots we are looking to get.
“Defensively we are looking to go man-to-man. We are quick enough and athletic enough to guard most teams. One thing we want to do is to make that first pass always the most difficult so ball reversal is not easy to do. They need to know your hand is near the ball on the first pass. We are going to be an attacking defense. We aren’t going to let you do what you want to do. We will try to take things away to see if you have secondary options,” Perry said.
Perry thinks the conference is going to be very competitive this year.
“We have one dominant team in Bethel, and from there I see a number of teams very competitive where a possession here or there can jump you from fourth or fifth to second or third in the conference,” he said.
“It’s going to be a fun year, and I didn’t come here to be a middle of the road team. I feel like we can compete in the upper tier of the conference, and we are in it to win it.
“I don’t think it’s by chance I got this opportunity. I’ve prepared well for it, and my goal is to get that first win to be 1-0 and take it one game at a time … and if at the end of the year they want me back next year, I’ll be ready for it, too,” Perry concluded.