TROY – The Tri-Village Patriots didn’t go down without a fight, but a sluggish first-half offense turned out to be too much to overcome against the Miami Valley Rams on Saturday.
The Patriots’ season came to an end 51-42 against Miami Valley in the first round of the Division IV sectional tournament at Troy High School.
The first quarter alone was almost too much to handle as the Rams fired in 20 points compared to just 6 for Tri-Village. But the Patriots finally began to get some rhythm late in the second quarter to pull within 14 at halftime, 25-11.
“Miami Valley came out and executed their sets and we didn’t come out with the energy that was needed,” TV coach Mackenzie Perry said. “When you are down 14 at half that is hard at any level – pee wee, college, NBA or high school for sure, but I challenged my seniors at halftime and they came out with the fire and gave us an opportunity to win. That is all you can ask in this life and this game is to give yourself an opportunity to win.”
That is exactly what the Patriots did outscoring the Rams 20-13 in the third quarter setting up a wild finish in the final eight minutes of the game. The third period started with senior Gage Hileman connecting fora 3-pointer just 34 seconds into the period. A mere 22 seconds later he drained another trey and that was followed by a deuce from freshman Layne Sarver. After a couple of buckets by the Rams made it 32-18 their advantage, Tri-Village went on a roll outscoring Miami Valley 10-2 over the next three-plus minutes getting to within 6 points at 34-28. It was the closest they would get, however, as the Rams finished the third quarter with a 38-31 lead and then made 10-of-17 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win and advance to a a semifinal round match with Emmanuel Christian.
“I told them at halftime to just come out with a fire and do this,” Perry said. “I told them to not let this be the lasting impression. I challenged the seniors and they stepped up. Austin (Bruner) gave us a steal here and there and Gage (Hileman) was driving to the rack and Derek (Eyer) was driving to the rack and gave us an opportunity, but you can’t dig yourself a hole and expect to put on a cape and come on out on top. You have got to play a full 32 minutes and that is the lesson of the night for sure.”
Hileman was the scoring leader for Tri-Village with 13 points. Sarver also reached double figures with 11. Miami Valley had three in double figures with Alec Martin and Pruthvi Choudary each scoring 12 points and Joe Bernsen with 10.
It was the final game for five Patriot seniors.
“I thank those five seniors for setting the tone,” Perry said. “It is unfortunate we lost, but that is the game of basketball. A missed layup here and a shot there and it could have changed things the other way for sure. We missed eight layups in the first half, so that is 16 points right there. If we have those 16 points we’re flipping it and getting our confidence and maybe able to pull out a win, but sometimes it doesn’t go the way that you go.
“I don’t want to take away from them and talk about the negative,” he continued. “These boys had to overcome a lot of adversity this season. This is a learning process for them and what I mean by that is the lesson we are learning here is you got to make sure you put in the hard work all the time. I’m confident they are going to learn that lesson and be great at everything they are doing. Guys are going to go off in different directions, but if they keep on working hard they are going to be successful.”
Perry gave a final reflection on each of his seniors.
“Mason Coby – He had every opportunity to quit but he kept playing and working hard and when his number was called he did his job. He will tell you he doesn’t have the most talent but he has that heart and that is what you need in this game.
“Mason Sullenbarger – Another one where we may not be drawing up a play for him but you know he has to do all the little dirty work and it is hard to do all the dirty work when you are 5-11 and he did it. He did it with a smile on his face. He came in and said coach I just care about winning.
“Austin Bruner – Not a natural basketball player but an energy guy and able to accept his role and try to make plays.
“Gage Hileman – The kid that is always going to have a smile on his face and he has been my starter since I have been here so there is a special relationship there that has developed and I am looking forward to seeing how much he is going to grow.
“Derek Eyer – The leader and all-conference player. He just has the energy and tenacity.
”I am going to miss these seniors for sure,” he continued. “I will just say this though if my younger class would just learn from this and learn that you have to make sure you put out the effort every single day and you have to put out 32 minutes every single day I could see greatness coming here soon. It stings now, but I know we have greatness coming. Everyone just has to be patient and put in the work.“
Score by quarters
Tri-Village – Gage Hileman 5 1 13, Mason Sullenbarger 1 1 3, Austin Bruner 3 0 7, Derek Eyer 4 0 8, Layne Sarver 5 1 11. Totals: 18 3 42.
Miami Valley – Jake Wang 3 2 8, Alec Martin 3 5 12, Joe Bernsen 4 2 10, Casey Edgerley 1 3 5, Sam Grossmann 2 0 4, Pruthvi Choudary 4 1 12. Totals: 17 13 51.
3-pointers – Tri-Village 3 (Hileman 2, Bruner 1), Miami Valley 4 (Choudary 3, Martin 1).
Records: Tri-Village (8-15), Miami Valley (9-12).
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.