BROOKVILLE – Tri-Village junior Lissa Siler broke out her offensive slump in a big way on Wednesday night by scoring 28 points to lead the Lady Patriots to a 55-49 overtime win over Bradford in a Division IV sectional championship game at Brookville.
Siler had 22 of her points by halftime that had Tri-Village with a somewhat comfortable 33-24 lead at halftime. But nothing is too comfortable with that much time left when it comes to playing the Lady Railroaders. Chris Besecker’s young, scrappy group rose to the occasion in the second half and forced overtime when Rylie Canan hit a huge, game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4 seconds left in regulation.
However, Bradford never scored again as Tri-Village hit 6-of-8 free throws in the overtime period to pull out the victory.
“It’s great,” Siler said of the win. “It feels great beating a really good team and being able to go to district finals on Saturday. I felt like I couldn’t miss anything. I have been struggling the past couple games but once I hit a couple this game I just knew I was going to be able to make a bunch.”
A bunch is what she did make draining five 3-pointers for the game and 3-of-4 free throws.
“I knew she was really good, but I didn’t realize she hit with 20-something in the first half,” Gray said of Siler. “I am just really happy to see her go off like that. She had been struggling lately and the funny thing was I just told her in practice yesterday … I tapped her on the should and said ‘You’re back. You’ve really been hitting shots the last couple days in practice,’ and you could just tell her confidence seemed to be back. I think that is something that is going to catapult her and I really think she will continue to play well from here on out.”
The Patriots halftime lead didn’t last too long. Bradford got back-to-back triples from Rylie Canan and Cassi Mead cutting it to 36-30 and it went back-and-forth a little for the remained of the third quarter as Tri-Village maintained a six-point lead 44-38 heading into the fourth frame.
Austy Miller hit a triple and then a regular basket on back-to-back possessions to open the fourth quarter cutting the lead to just one at 44-43 for Tri-Village with 5:45 to go. At 5;24 Meghan Downing got a deuce to go back up 46-43 and then Siler hit a layup with 4:21 left for a 48-43 lead, but except for one free throw made by Emma Printz the rest of the quarter belonged to the Railroaders. Rylie Cannon connected on a 3-pointer with 2;23 left to make it 48-46. After Printz hit 1-of23 free throws, it was Canan again with the huge game-tying 3-pointer with 4 seconds left.
“First of all, we did have to defend for four seconds and not let them score after Rylie tied it up with a 3 from the top of the key,” Besecker said. “And our kids did a great job of that. Overall, our defense was pretty good all night, but Siler just lit us up in the first half. That was big for them and put us in a hole.
“I really felt like in overtime if we could have gotten the lead it would have been a different game, but we just couldn’t score and couldn’t get anything going offensively,” he continued. “They tightened up and played some solid defense on us so give them credit for that. We just couldn’t get any open looks that we were comfortable shooting the ball.”
Aside from Siler’s 28, Printz and Maddie Downing each scored 9 points for Tri-Village. Meghan Downing added 7 points.
For Bradford, Miller led the way with 19 points followed by Rylie Canan with 16.
“I mean how well did they play? My goodness you have to give them a lot of credit,” Gray said of Bradford. “They played extremely well. They did a good job defensively on all our kids and even the shots Lissa was making were tough shots. She hit a lot of 3’s and then she hit some really contested pull-up jumpers and attacks to the rim. Nothing really came easy to her.
“I have strong feelings for Coach Besecker,” he continued. “He is a guy that when I first got the job at Tri-Village really kind of mentored me in ways that he probably doesn’t even realize and I am so happy that he has a job again as a head coach with a team where he has talent and can win games because he is a heck of a coach. He is going to get those kids pretty far here these next few years because he has all of them back and he’s got them for more than one year. They are going to be tough.”
Had it not been against his team, Gray said he would have been very happy for Rylie Canan when she hit that 3-pointer.
“Rylie used to play for me in AAU ball when she was younger and I love seeing her play well,” he said. “I wish it wouldn’t have been against us (laughing), but seeing her hit that shot I think other than her parents and family I probably would have been one of the most excited people for her in the gym.
“I just tip my hat to them. Austy had a great game and I’m telling you their future is really bright,” Gray added.
Naturally, the loss hurts a little for Bradford after being able to force overtime, but the Railroaders finish the season with an 18-7 overall record.
“It is disappointing,” Besecker said. “We couldn’t get anything going in overtime and the lights just went out on us, but I believe we will be better off going into next year knowing that kids had to step up and play this season.”
For Tri-Village (23-1), they advance to the district championship game at 3 p.m. on Saturday against Cincinnati Country Day at Troy.
“I don’t know if Tri-Village has ever played Cincinnati Country Day,” Gray said. “I know we haven’t since I have been coaching so it is a different face for us and hopefully it will be a fun atmosphere.
“I think we are battle-tested going into this game,” he continued. “We were battle-tested before tonight, but tonight obviously kind of gives us another notch in our belt I guess as far as playing tough teams and I don’t think we will be intimidated by the moment at all, We’ve seen good basketball teams and CCD is just another one in a long line that we have played so hopefully our kids will be ready.”
Score by quarters
Bradford – Abby Gade 1 0 2, Austy Miller 5 5 19, Emma Canan 1 0 3, Abby Fike 1 0 2, Rylie Canan 6 0 16, Cassi Mead 2 0 5, Bianca Keener 1 0 2. Totals: 17 5 49.
Tri-Village – Emma Printz 3 2 9, Meghan Downing 2 3 7, Andi Bietry 0 2 2, Lissa Siler 10 3 28, Maddie Downing 3 3 9. Totals: 18 13 55.
3-pointers – Bradford 10 (Miller 4, R. Canan 4, E. Canan 1, Mead 1), Tri-Village 6 (Siler 5, Printz 1).
Records: Bradford (18-7), Tri-Village (23-1).
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.