NEW MADISON – Opportunities are earned as a result of hard work resulting success as proven by the Tri-Village Lady Patriots basketball program under the direction of head varsity girls basketball coach Brad Gray.
Two appearances for the 2019-2020 season will pit the Lady Patriots against two of the state’s premier programs as the OHSAA Division IV Lady Patriots will be facing DII and DIII teams.
The Lady Patriots will return to the Classic in the Country played at Berlin Highland after a few years away from the prestigious tournament.
“Our girls program has been invited back to the Classic in the Country,” said Gray. “It is a big event put on by the Ohio Girls Basketball Report. We played in that when my current group of seniors, kids that will be seniors were freshmen when we played in that the last time.
“We are going to be playing Margaretta at that event,” continued Gray. “Margaretta is a Division III school that went 23-3 last year. They got be in the regionals by Africentric who went on to win the Division III State title. They have some of their major players from that team returning so that is going to be a great test for us. They are a solid program year in and year out. Their head coach has done a tremendous job with them.”
The Tri-Village girls basketball team has been invited to play in the brand new The Wishes Can Happen Holiday Tournament with the debut taking place at Glenoak High School in Canton, OH.
“It’s going to be a brand new event put on by the same group; the Ohio Girls Basketball Report,” Coach Gray stated. it’s going to be in Canton at Glen Oaks High School “It’s The Wishes Can Happen Holiday Tournament played over the Christmas break,”
“We’re playing there December 29th against Belleview who went to the Division II Regionals last year,” Gray added. “They got beat in the regional finals by the team that ended up winning the Division II State Championship,”
Teams fortunate enough to be invited to these special events get there as a result of very highly rated players who are being recruited by many colleges throughout the country or they are teams that have had a tremendous amount of success in recent years.
“Two really good tests for us where our kids are going to have a great experience playing against quality competition,” Coach Gray said of the two invites.
The Lady Patriots are a seasonal regular in the state’s Associated Press state rankings. Playing the larger programs gives local team an opportunity to move up in the seasonal AP standings as well as a chance to drop in the rankings with a loss to a perineal powerhouse.
“State rankings mean nothing,” Gray said. “Last year we finished the year third in the state according to the Associated Press. We’ve been ranked over the past 10 years more than we haven’t been. Each of the last 10 we’ve probably been in the top 10 or just out of the top 10 and all we have to show for that is – we have some regional appearances and we have one state appearance.
“We feel like we need to prepare our kids. Obviously we’ve been to the mountain top but we’ve not been able to get all the way to the very top of that. The goal here is to try and win a state title. I know that puts a lot of pressure on our kids but that’s what we are working for year in and year out.
“Winning a conference is nice but that’s not what we are shooting for here. We’re not shooting to be ranked in the top five in the state by the Associated Press. That is not our goal. Our goal is to do whatever it takes to prepare our kids to be able to compete against the best teams in the state of Ohio so that we get to the tournament.
“We have seen that kind of competition,” said Gray. “We’re ready for it and hopefully we as coaches made the adjustments throughout the season that we need to make because we faced some of these really good teams who have put pressure on us, who have maybe made us face a little adversity and we have given our kids a chance to respond to that so when we get to the tournament, we’re prepared for it.”
Coach Gray views the regular basketball season and the OHSAA tournament run as two separate seasons giving reason to toss regular season records.
“We always say the first 22 games is the practice season,” Gray said. “The real season starts in the middle part of February when you start your tournament run.
“Last year our sectional game against Bradford, a team we had beat by roughly 20 points earlier in the year and they took us to overtime and darn near had us beat. Those are things that you can’t really put any stock into what happened in the regular season because in the tournament everybody is fired up to play,
“Everybody knows it’s basically one loss and you’re done. You’re playing a series of one season games. If you win you get a chance to play another one season game. If you lose your season is over so – that’s how we approach the tournament.
“We tell our kids that after each game your record is back to 0-0,” added Coach Gray. “It doesn’t matter what you did the previous game, it doesn’t matter what your opponent did the previous game. Both teams have to be ready to play and whoever has the best night that night gets to live to die another day – so that is the way we approach the tournament run.”
The Lady Patriots will be in action this Friday and Saturday as they host 13 teams in the Lady Patriots Shootout. The free event is open to the public and a concession stand will be available. Games begin at 9 a.m. both days.
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