Lady Patriots Opens Season and New Gym at Tri-Village

The Lady Patriots prepare to enter the floor for the 1st time in the "PAC" (Patriot Activity Center) they defeated Chaminade Julienne 68-35 for a successful debut. (Dale Barger Photo)

By David Barger

NEW MADISON – One week following the Open House for the new Patriot Activity Center, the Tri-Village Lady Patriots settled into their new home for the 2022-23 basketball season.  The administration, coaches, and athletes, eagerly welcomed in the large crowd of Patriot faithful to fill the gym to demonstrate the early season capabilities of the Lady Patriots.  Squaring off against the Eagles of Chaminade Julienne, Tri-Village made quick work of the Eagles and handily closed out the night with a 68-35 victory to begin the season 1-0.

Morgan Hunt scores 1st basket at the PAC. Hunt scored 15 in the game. (Dale Barger Photo)

Morgan Hunt kicked things off posting up and receiving a lob pass over the top, scoring the first basket for all scorers ever in the new gym.  30 seconds later, Rylee Sagester joined Hunt, burying a deep triple from the WOAC logo on the new Patriots floor.  Another left-hand score inside by the right-handed Hunt and a free throw by Torie Richards put the Patriots up 8-0 halfway through the first period.

The momentum would all be in favor of the Lady Patriots throughout the period.  Sagester was set-up with another great look at a three and Freshman Kynnedi Hager would get her

6’3″ freshman Kynnedi Hager scores her 1st varsity basket in season opener. (Dale Barger Photo)

 first varsity points of her career on a score inside.  With a 13-0 lead at 2:28 in the first quarter, the Eagles were forced to take a timeout with hopes of slowing the momentum.

Tri-Village came out of the timeout still moving the ball well and finding great opportunities to score.  On their next offensive possession, Morgan Hunt used a Kynnedi Hager screen, passing to Hager on the low block after the roll Hager caught it and passed it to Rylee Sagester making a back cut from the opposite wing to get an easy lay-up to go up 15-0.

Brooke Haywood got the Eagles on the board first with a mid-range jump shot with less than a minute in the first period.  But the Lady Patriots wasted no time thinking about the CJ made basket, quickly getting out in transition and finding Freshman Sydnee Delong for an easy lay-up.  The Patriots closed out the first frame with an impressive 18-2 lead.

Freshman Sydnee DeLong drops the deuce off the baseline. (Dale Barger Photo)

Sagester got things going for the Patriots in the 2nd quarter, with 6:02 remaining stroking two of two free-throws and getting into double figures early in the night.

Senior Rylee Sagester drops one of her 5 triples on her way to a 30 point night in win over Chaminade Julienne. (Dale Barger Photo)

Bella Black finally reaped the reward of her strong efforts on the glass.  After a physical rebound on the defensive end of the floor, Black outlet the ball into transition, ran the length of the floor to snag a rebound on the offensive end and scored her first basket of the night.  This was followed up with a Richards steal and another transition basket.  CJ called another timeout at 4:59 trailing the contest 24-3.

Bella Black was a beast on the boards pulling down 10 of them in win at the PAC. (Dale Barger Photo)

“Pushing the pace is what we want,” stated Head Coach Brad Gray after the game.  “We want to control tempo.  We like to play fast, but we don’t want opponents to make us play fast.”

Torie Richards had 11 points and shut down the Eagles top offensive player in season opener. (Dale Barger Photo)

Gray to this point in the game had seen his Patriots push tempo numerous times and clearly had dictated the pace of the game.  This would be how the remainder of the first half would be for the Lady Patriots who held a 32-10 lead at the break.Second half play would begin with Tri-Village sharing the ball after a series of a good passes rotating from the right side of the floor to the left wing, Torie Richards would shot-fake and drive to the rim to score first in the 2nd half.

After another good defensive set, the Patriots got out in transition once again, where Richards found Sagester who was fouled going up for the lay-up and she converted both free throws.

Tri-Village it seemed had picked-up where they had left off from the first half and maintained the pace throughout concluding the frame with a 50-22 lead.

Sagester kicked things off early in the 4th quarter hitting her 5th triple of the night and cruising to a 30-point night.  Despite her own individual success, Sagester was humble, pointing out her teammates as the source of her own success, “It’s my teammates who always find me, getting me the ball in a position to be successful,” stated Sagester.  “We all work well together, knowing our own strengths and weaknesses, and we’ve learned to use that to our advantage.”

The Lady Patriots put up another 18-points in the final stanza ending the contest with a 68-35 victory.

“I was pleased with the results tonight,” commented Head Coach Brad Gray reflecting on his teams 33-point win.  “Without knowing the numbers, I felt like we shot the ball well tonight.  I thought we crashed the boards hard tonight, especially on the offensive end.  We were locked in defensively early, although we lost a little bit of that in the second quarter.  All-in-all, for game one and against a storied program such as Chaminade Julienne, we’re going to take it.”

Beyond being a Head Coach, Brad Gray also serves as Athletic Director and has been a big part of the transition to the new facilities for the Patriots.  When asked for comments on playing in the new gym, Gray commented on the size of the college length floor.  “People might not think 10 feet makes a big difference, but it does,” noted Gray.  “We’ve only been able practice in here for a week now.  I think eventually it’s going to be a major home court advantage for us but it’s just not yet.”  Tri-Village happens to be one of only a few schools in the area who utilize a college length floor at 94’, where high school regulation is only 84’.

Senior Rylee Sagester, daughter of Boy’s Head Basketball Coach and school Superintendent Josh Sagester, also shared her thoughts and emotions about the opportunity to play on the new Battleground.  “I can’t begin to describe it,” stated Rylee Sagester. “It was a great atmosphere in here tonight and I am very fortunate that I am able to play my last year here on this floor.  It’s just a special moment tonight, for us all.”

The now 1-0 Tri-Village Lady Patriots will be the host again Saturday night as they take on Fairbanks in a series of games to be hosted in an all-day shootout in the PAC.  First game in the 4-game shoot out begins a 3:00, and the host Patriots will take to the Battleground beginning at 7:30.

Tri-Village                    18        14        18        18        68
Chaminade Julienne      02        08        12        13        35

Tri-Village                    FTM     FTA      FGM    3PM    PTS
Rylee Sagester            5          6          5          5          30
Emma Cantrel             1          2          0          0          1
Sydnee DeLong           0          0          1          0          2
Morgan Hunt              3          4          6          0          15
Torie Richards             1          2          5          0          11
Bella Black                  5          6          1          0          7
Kynnedi Hager            0          0          1          0          2
Total                          15        20        19        5          68