TROY – Emmanuel Christian had just enough of a lead going into the fourth quarter during which the Lions would close out the game at the free throw line and knock out the Tri-Village boys basketball team in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV Troy sectional tournament.
The Lions were a combined 27-for-32 from the line and 21-for-26 in the fourth quarter, crushing every comeback attempt made by the Patriots.
Emmanuel Christian took a 10-6 lead in the first quarter as the Patriots missed some early opportunities inside to keep pace or take a lead.
The Patriots’ perimeter game came alive in the second period as Gage Hileman hit his second triple and Trey Frech fired in two. Christian Ricker added two field goals to push past the Lions and take a 22-19 lead at the break.
The third quarter was almost a mirror of the first for the Patriots on offense – a team that usually is very good at the rim on the break or knocking down the open shot. But again they had trouble finishing and with three minutes to go in the quarter the Lions grabbed a 30-26 lead.
The Patriots were within a bucket at 32-30, but the last 1:37 of the third quarter would set the tone for the rest of the game as the Lions surged ahead 37-30 heading into the final stanza.
Emmanuel Christian is a very well coached and disciplined team and with the lead was more than happy to spread the floor. With capable ball-handlers and good free throw shooters, the Lions would use it to their advantage and put on a free throw shooting clinic.
Just like they did in their previous game with Franklin Monroe, the Lions kept the Patriots at bay by making 21 free throws to secure a 61-48 victory and the first ever sectional title for Emmanuel Christian.
The loss ends the career of five Patriot seniors: Trey Frech, Jared Buckley, Noah Burns, Christian Ricker and Cameron Sterrett. They concluded their senior year with a 10-13 overall record, third place in the Cross County Conference and sectional runner-up.
Over their career they won 50 games, won a CCC title, were district champs, sectional runner- ups twice and had seven tournament wins to add to the Tri-Village basketball tradition.
Tri-Village boys basketball coach Mackenzie Perry in his first year at the helm of the Patriots was emotional after the game and spoke from the heart about his team’s journey this year.
Perry gave glory to God and believes he was given a great opportunity to coach this team and all 15 boys that came along on the journey this year.
“I’m a better man for having coached these boys,” Perry said.
“I can’t say enough about them. Coming in all they knew about me was I was from Bradford. I had five seniors who could have said, ‘Hey, he’s a new coach; I’ll do my own thing’ … but from day one they trusted and believed in what I was saying, worked hard and did it to the best of their ability every single night.
“I couldn’t ask for five better seniors. Sometimes you worry about them after they leave … but these five, I’m not worried about them. They are going to be great. Whatever they are doing, child psychology, college football, business, EMT, whatever, they are going to be the greatest human beings and great citizens because I know how they handled adversity this year.
“There were a lot of people who wanted to see us crumble and wanted us to fail. There was opportunity for them to quit, give up … they never did and came to work every day and tried to put a smile on my face and did it to the best of their ability. They could have walked out on their teammates and easily given up. They were just great, weren’t they?” Perry said holding back tears.
“I hate it for them. I hate it that we couldn’t get this one … I know how much it meant to this group to put their stamp on things here, and I wanted them to uphold that standard and just do it. I hate it we fell short … but I’m proud of what we did, and I hope the community was proud of their boys because at the end of the day we represent them, and I hope they believe we were a good representation of them,” Perry concluded.
Score by quarters
EC … 10 … 09 … 18 … 24 – 61
TV … 06 … 16 … 08 … 18 – 48
EC – Mullins – 1, Channels – 17, Shropshire – 19, Kittles – 5, Davis- 16, Wellman – 4, Willis – 4; Totals 2-14-27/32 – 61
Tri-Village – Gage Hileman – 11, Noah Burns – 6, Austin Bruner – 2, Derek Eyer – 3, Trey Frech – 6, Jared Buckley – 7, Christian Ricker – 13; Totals 6-10-10/19 – 48