NEW MADISON – The inexplicable mystique of “The Battleground” has been the scene of some late game memorable victories over the years, and it has added another to the growing list. The Tri-Village boys basketball team erased a late game 12-point deficit to Ansonia, then surged ahead in overtime, stunning the Tigers to earn a dramatic 58-49 Cross County Conference win.
The Patriots trailing by 12 points with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter began their comeback behind the hot-hand of senior Gage Hileman.
Hileman connected on a three-ball off a screen and then followed that up with another bomb in a matter of 30 seconds. Then a steal and a pass up-court to senior Derek Eyer for a lay-up had cut the lead down to four, 36-32 with 3:59 to go.
Freshman Layne Sarver then cut it to a two-point game on a drive to the basket before the Tigers finally broke the 10-point run scoring on a Devyn Sink layup to go back up 38-34.
Ansonia was trying to regain control of the game and held a 39-36 lead until Hileman struck again for his third triple in the period tying the contest at 39-all and the battleground erupted into a frenzy as the Patriots had come all the way back to send the game into overtime.
“A lot of shots in the first half were in and out for Gage and I was like one is going to go down,” second-year Tri-Village coach Mackenzie Perry said. “He’s worked way too hard this summer and fall not to have success, and when he got one to go in off a screen it was all it took to get him going,” Perry added.
“Tri-Village went on that run late with Gage Hileman hitting some big shots, he’s a good ball player and we knew he could do that, and when he did we just didn’t respond,” first-year Ansonia coach Devin Limburg said.
In overtime, TV drew first blood with senior Mason Sullenbarger knocking down two free throws. Ironically poor shooting at the charity stripe almost did them in, going just 4-for-11 prior to the extra period, then going 9-for-13 to pull away and seal the win.
Ansonia started the game off well jumping out to a quick 13-5 first quarter led by Hunter Muir who dominated inside scoring 8 points.
The Patriots struggled offensively in the opening frame and it would be two non-starters who got the scoring going with freshman Layne Sarver getting two at the rim and Mason Lay knocking down one from behind the arch.
The second frame was low scoring with both teams scoring 8 points and the Tigers holding a 21-13 points lead at the break.
Sarver led the Patriots in the first half with 8 points and he generated another 4 points in a low scoring third period. The Tigers got 4 points from Muir and a triple from Buckingham, and a deuce from Matthew Shook to go up 30-21 going heading into the fourth quarter.
Ansonia widened their lead early in the fourth quarter 36-24 prompting Perry to use a timeout to try and prevent the game from getting away.
“I told the guys we need to just focus on getting stops, one stop at a time and not worry about trying to get it all back at once,” Perry stated. “We knew what they wanted to do, we executed and held them to just one shot and out, then got an offensive boost we needed from Gage,” Perry added.
“I feel like our guys played hard and controlled the game for the most part,” a dejected coach Limburg said. “Honestly it came down to execution and we just didn’t run the plays,” he added.
For the Patriots after being ice cold and missing shots from the perimeter, the free throw line and even struggling to finish lay-ups, it all come together in the overtime period.
“This place is special when the crowd comes alive and when we sent it to overtime it energized our team, the kids fed off that, everyone did their part to help us achieve the magic needed to win this one in overtime,” Perry exclaimed.
“I’m trying to get this group to become more focused and mentally tuned in whether we are up or down and not letting one play affect the next, or the rest of the game like it did tonight,” Ansonia coach Limburg concluded.
Ansonia who qualified for the football playoffs is still trying to get into basketball mode. They have talent and once they get going will be a stiff test for anyone. The Tigers were led by the Hunter’s, Muir had 15 and Buckingham 14.
“This win shows our resiliency, that’s what we’re all about, just keep playing hard all the way until the end, and this group has a lot of belief in themselves, tonight it paid off and we are going to feed off this big win,” Perry concluded.
Tri-Village had three players in double figures led by Sarver with 18, and both Hileman and Eyer had 14 with all their points coming late in the game.
Score by Quarters:
AN: Sink 1-1-0/2 – 5, Buckingham 4-0-2/2 – 14, Shook 0-2-1/1 – 5, Muir 0-8-3/8 – 15, Setser 0-1-0/0 – 2, Rowland 0-2-0/0 – 4; Totals 5-14-6/13 – 49
TV: Hileman 4-0-2/4 – 14, Sullenbarger 0-0-3/6 – 3, Bruner 0-2-0/0 – 4, Eyer 0-5-4/10 – 14, Sarver 2-4-4/6 – 18, Lay 1-0-0/0 – 3; Totals 7-12-13/26 – 58
AN: 5 (Buckingham 4, Sink 1)
TV: 7 (Hileman 4, Sarver 2, Lay 1)
Records: AN (0-1, 0-1) – TV (2-0, 1-0)