NEW MADISON – Undefeated league-leading Bethel led by as much as 19 points and looked to be on cruise control in the second half, but the old Battleground came to life and Tri-Village made a serious run to tie the game and take the lead late.
Tied at 75, Trey Frech, while falling out of bounds let one fly and it nearly went in, but it went to overtime. It was all Bethel in the extra frame as the Bees escaped town with a 94-84 win and a Cross County Conference title.
The Patriots went toe to toe with the Bees in the first quarter, attacking the basket, determined not to let the 6-foot 8-inch rim protector Alex Van Haaren deter them, and they scored 8 hard earned points inside with Jared Buckley and Derek Eyer both scoring 4 each and Gage Hileman added 5.
Tri-Village trailed by 10 after the quarter due to the hot shooting of Ryan Rose, who had 3-triples to give Bethel a 23-13 lead.
Hileman added two 3-balls in the second period, and Christian Ricker along with Eyer and Buckley added fielders, but the Patriots couldn’t close the gap and trailed 37-26 at the break.
Defensively TV was determined to slow down the hot-hand of Rose in the second half, but when you have two high profile guards, like a good gunfighter with two pistols, when one is out of bullets the other fires away, and Bethel’s Caleb South started to fire away.
South scored 9 to help the Bees go up by 19, 55-36, at the 3:30 mark, and it looked like Bethel was going to put the game away early.
It was a spirited effort by the boys from New Madison, who easily could have rolled over, but they kept grinding away with Buckley in full attack mode, scoring 15 of the Patriots’ 24 points in the third quarter to cut the margin to 59-50.
The fourth quarter was shaping up to be a wild one as Frech got hot. The senior sharpshooter had four triples and 18 points in the fourth quarter to try and combat the firepower of the Bees.
Frech’s 3-ball at 4:22 cut the margin to a bucket, now trailing 67-65, and the noise level had ramped up considerable in the gym.
Buckley tied the game and Frech dropped another long-range bomb, giving Tri-Village an unbelievable come-from-behind lead at 69-67 at 3:36.
Tri-Village extended the lead to 71-67, but Bethel is a veteran team, winning the league last year and returned its entire roster. The Bees weren’t about to wither and eventually regained the lead, 72-71, at 1:46.
After a loose ball scramble Eyer came away with it and converted it for a layup, and the Patriots were back on top 73-72.
At 1:04 Buckley was whistled for his fifth foul. It eventually proved to be critical in the outcome.
South put the Bees back on top 75-73, but Frech had the answer on a 15-foot pull-up jumper with three guys in his face to tie the game at 75.
Bethel tried to go for the last shot, missed and left just enough time for TV to get the ball up-court and get a timeout with three seconds to play and a chance to win it.
For some Bethel fans the moment may have brought back an unpleasant memory of losing a 21-point fourth quarter lead at the Battleground four years ago when Tyler VanWinkle hit “The Miracle Shot” game winner from about 35 feet.
On the out-of-bounds, Frech had to try and get the ball over 6-foot 8-inch Van Haaren, who obscured his vision with his long arms. He got the ball in on the side then stepped in for the hand-off, but it was crowded and really nowhere to go.
Frech tried to recreate the magic of VanWinkle’s game winner, deep in the corner, off-balance and falling out of bounds he somehow got a shot off. It seemed like an eternity as the ball went toward the rim, it hit the iron bounced up and fell away – but what an effort it was, and the game was going to overtime.
“I was a little irritated they had the 6-8 kid guarding the in-bound play,” Tri-Village boys basketball coach Mackenzie Perry said.
“We get the ball in then Trey ends up with it in the corner, throws up a fade-away rainbow, and I’m right standing right there looking at it thinking this has got a shot; it’s got a shot. You know it’s funny, they practice these shots in practice, and I get mad at them for doing it. If it had gone in I would never heard the end of it … but I could have lived with that,” Perry said.
In the overtime period South took over, scoring 15 points in four minutes and 46 for the game as the Bees pulled away for a 94-84 win and back-to-back CCC titles.
“At the half we talked about the deficit and how we could get back in the game. Our mantra was ‘one stop at a time.’ We can’t get it all at once, and we’ll just chip away at it. Then we started hitting shots and got some big time play from Frech and Buckley. Our kids didn’t quit. They wanted this game. I know we didn’t get the ‘W,’ but I’m really very proud of all of them,” Perry said.
“I just hope we have enough left in our tank for senior night with Coldwater, who is a very tough team coming in here tomorrow. I like the way we are playing right now, and I’m confident going into the postseason we can make some noise,” Perry said.
“It was a lot of fun to watch tonight and a lot of fun to be involved in a game like this. I just wish for our kids we could have pulled this one out,” Perry concluded.
Tri-Village was led by Frech with 26 points, Buckley had 25, Eyer 14 and Hileman had 11.
Tri-Village fell to 8-11 overall and 6-5 in the CCC.
Score by quarters
BE … 23 … 14 … 22 … 16 … 19 – 94
TV … 13 … 13 … 24 … 25 … 09 – 84
BE – Kendal James 8, Caleb South 46, Jacob Evans 6, Alex Van Haaren 11, Ryan Rose 23; Totals 7-27-19/24 – 94
Tri-Village – Gage Hileman 11, Austin Bruner 2, Derek Eyer 14, Trey Frech 26, Jared Buckley 25, Christian Ricker 6; Totals 9-22-13/17 – 84