BLUE ASH – Brad Gray was pretty satisfied after his Tri-Village girls basketball team won the first of its three games on Monday in the 2018 Ohio Girls Basketball Report Crystal Ball event held at Sycamore High School.
The Patriots trailed by as many as 12 points to host Sycamore, a Division I school that competes in the Greater Miami Conference, before rallying to win the game 44-40. It was the first time Tri-Village has ever competed in the premier event.
“I thought we just stayed with it and didn’t give up,” Gray said. His team trailed 19-16 at the end of the first period and was down 34-25 after the second quarter. “That was the key to this win. It could have been real easy to give up going into that last quarter being down by 10, but I thought our kids believed in each other and I thought our intensity on the defensive end stepped up a little bit once we went to the press.
“Offensively, I felt like we played maybe slightly intimidated the first couple of quarters but then in that last quarter we just decided to start going right at them. We were able to get some easy ones, draw some fouls and score at the free throw line. Good things happen when you attack the rim,” he added.
Junior Lissa Siler stepped up big in that final period. Last year’s leading scorer for Tri-Village at 13.9 points per game was near her average against the Aviators after knocking down three triples and a few free throws.
“We were down about 10 for most of the game, but in the third quarter we really started to turn on our game,” Siler said. “We were playing more to their level at the start trying to speed things up and we made some turnovers and stuff, but when we started playing our game and getting our shots that’s when we really started to get up on them. We got a lot of good stops on defense and that is what really helped us.
“I think we were kind of nervous at the beginning of the game,” she continued. “Just being here for our first time and them being a bigger school and knowing how good they are I think we got kind of intimidated a little bit, but once we figured out we could play with them that’s when we started to do well.”
There were 24 teams in the event and games were played in three eight-minute quarters on two separate courts with more than 60 college coaches on hand observing the players. Each team played three games. Some college programs that were represented included the University of Connecticut, the University of Maryland, Indiana University, Ohio State, the University of Minnesota, Michigan State, the University of Kentucky, Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, Miami Ohio, Bowling Green State University, UCLA, Ohio University, Tiffin University, Loyola Chicago, Purdue and Detroit Mercy just to name a few.
“The atmosphere of all these college coaches being here was part of our nervousness to start,” Siler said. “So to get a win by coming from behind and in this atmosphere does feel pretty good.”
Freshman Meghan Downing and junior Trisa Porter also had standout performances, according to Gray.
“Our freshman Meghan Downing played really well early on,” he said. “She was the one that kept us hanging around. And Trisa (Porter) did an excellent job of playing the point when she’s not used to it. We we’re missing our starting and our backup point guards which means we have a lot of kids playing out of position, so to be able to come out here and win against a team that is supposed to be a pretty good Division I team in Cincinnati area is good.
“We have used Trisa in that spot before but she is more off the ball so to be on the ball and never come out of the game I think she did an excellent job,” Gray continued. “I feel pretty good overall for winning this game. The main thing I’m looking for is I just want to see our kids come down here and really play hard against what we know to be some of the best basketball teams in the state.”
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.