VERSAILLES – It was a late start…both literally and metaphorically at Versailles High School as the 5:00 PM tipoff got underway just after 5:10PM in the opening round contest between the Tri-Village Lady Patriots and the Yellow Springs Bulldogs.
Tri-Village who capped off a perfect regular season going 22-0, eventually got things rolling and didn’t look back coasting to an easy victory to advanced to the Sectional Semi-Final contest.
While in the process of securing the win Rylee Sagester reached a high watermark in her career as she already holds the school record for the most made 3-point field goals in a career and was just 5 away from tying, and six to surpass the OHSAA girls state record coming into the contest.
As the Patriots attempted to settle in, their tenacious defensive effort provided easy offense to get things rolling by Bella Black, Torie Richards, and Morgan Hunt who all contributed early with lay-ups. Rylee Sagester first got on the board from 3-pt range midway through the 1st quarter and the Bulldogs were never able to adjust as she added two more and the Patriots wrapped up the opening frame with a 24-0 lead.
Needing three more triples, Sagester, with the help of her teammates canned one early in the 2nd quarter, then needing two, one to tie and a second for the record.
She got number 5 on the left wing as Morgan Hunt provided a pick to free Sagester who got a nice pass from the top of the key from teammate Torie Richards, and she nailed it for number 375 to tie the state record.
The next offensive possession would be the defining moment of the evening. Again, off the left wing, Sagester was set-up by a double screen courtesy of Kynnedi Hager on the low post and Kiersten Wilcox on the high post. The assist once more was provided by senior teammate Torie Richards, and Sagester would bury the corner three … number 376, for a new OHSAA state record.
An emotional fanfare precluded the event. The clock stopped to recognize the momentous occasion, Rylee was bestowed the game ball which she presented to her parents, Josh and Traci Sagester, and took a few seconds to share her gratitude for the help in achieving that milestone with the coaching staff and teammates.
“My first couple shots didn’t really feel good…it wasn’t me, but I finally got that first one to fall and it’s a credit to my teammates who just kept getting me the ball,” stated Sagester following the game. “Finally, it felt like I could just settle in and just let the game come to me. Again, all the credit to my teammates for having faith in me to get it done, Thank you!”
Breathing a sigh of relief Sagester even joked about how her teammates finally pushed her over the hump to get this record tonight.
“You know, at one point Torie (Richards) looked at me and said, ‘do you want to drag this out or do you want to get this over with? Of course, I wanted to get this over with and it was fitting that she was the one to put the ball in my hands to both tie and break the record and for that I say thank you.”
Upon the finality of the celebration, the Lady Patriots returned to the court and overwhelmed the undermanned Bulldogs. The Patriots were able to get everyone plenty of playing time as they coasted to the 85-1 win to advance to next round.
The Patriots were led by Sagester with 29 points on 9 triples, Torie Richards had 13, Bella Black 12 and Morgan Hunt 10.
Tri-Village coach Brad Gray in his postgame comments immediately took notice of the accomplishment and the sense of relief to have achieved this so early in the tournament.
“It was important tonight for us to come out here and try to get the record behind Rylee and to be honest behind all of us and the team. I think you could tell even early in the game the way our kids were really passing up easy shots trying to get her some good looks and when she dropped the final one it was a collective weight off our shoulders and even Rylee let out a huge sigh of relief,” Gray stated.
“We got a late start and played sluggish early, when it’s your first tournament game there are always jitters and you could see it where our kids missed easy shots that were uncharacteristic, and it took us a little while to get going. But once we did, we kind of looked a little bit more like us and that’s why I’m a big believer in not taking a first round bye in the tournament I don’t want our first game being somebody else’s second game,” Gray commented.
Rylee Sagester continued her appreciation and gratitude post game as she was asked to briefly reflect on her career.
“It’s just been hours in the gym, constant preparation, constant mechanics, and constant focus. They say, I’ve been a gym rat for a long time and that’s paid off today,” Sagester responded.
Sagester paused for a moment then continued, “then there is dad and mom, I love them. Dad has always pushed me to be my best and mom has always been my biggest supporter no matter what….she is going to love me day in and day out.”
Rylee’s dad Josh Sagester weighed in on the moment as well.
“Coach Brad Gray has done a great job of getting Rylee in positions where she can be successful along with her teammates,” Josh said. “Rylee has also earned everything she has coming to her, she has put the time in, done the hard work that others don’t see, and I can’t take credit for that,” Josh said trying to contain his proud dad smile.
But you can be sure he has maintained a watchful eye and provided occasional input and positive messages along the way.
Rylee also knows her success doesn’t come without good coaching and great teammates.
“I’ve had good coaching and super teammates I love those girls so much, especially my fellow seniors. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all this without them by my side. I have played basketball with Morgan and Torie since the 2nd grade, and it’s been an unbelievable run.”
In fact, the three seniors have never lost a league game from 7-12 grade.
With all the pomp and circumstance of the night in the history books, what lies ahead for Sagester and the Lady Patriots?
“There is just one more thing I can think of that will cement the legacy of our senior class and that’s a state title and I can’t imagine doing it with anybody else,” Sagester concluded.
Coach Brad Gray, Rylee Sagester, and the rest of the top ranked Patriots will continue their quest for that illustrious State Championship on Saturday, 11:00 AM at Versailles High School.