VANDALIA, OH – Tri-Village took to the court at Vandalia’s Student Activity Center Thursday night against Marion Local seeking an opportunity to advance to the DIV Vandalia Girls Basketball Regional Finals.
The tall and physical line-up for the Lady Flyers posed problems early, but Brad Gray’s Lady Patriots settled in and began to execute finding themselves in a tight game.
Although the PATS gained the lead at the end of the 1st quarter and never relinquished it, they didn’t appear to be the decisive victor until a series of plays late in the fourth quarter led to the 50-38 win to advance to the Elite 8.
The Flyers got themselves on the board first by Senior forward Lindsey Koenig who scored their first 7 points including a triple to jump out to an early 7-2 lead. Not having seen a competitive physical match-up since Toledo Christian at Classic in the County, the Lady Patriots needed time to adjust…and adjust they did!
“Give Marion credit, they came out and played really good basketball, they had kids do some things we didn’t think they were capable of doing and their man defense was legit,” Tri-Village coach Brad Gray said.
Tri-Village chipped away at the Marion Local lead on the play of senior’s Morgan Hunt and Ohio Ms. Basketball candidate Rylee Sagester as the Patriot duo spurred a 9-0 run including a Sagester long range triple at the conclusion of the first frame to climb in front 13-11.
The second quarter began the start of a neck and neck dog fight between the two squads.
As the score seesawed back and forth and TV holding a tight margin, Morgan Hunt quietly went to work inside contributing 11 first half points. Rylee Sagester would outwork her defenders a few times knocking down three first half triples on three attempts. Her third gave Tri-Village a 23-17 lead with 2:00 minutes remaining in the first half.
A flip in defensive schemes by the Patriots going zone slowed Marion Local’s offensive opportunities, as they only scored 8 in the second period.
“I thought when we went zone it stifled them a bit they had a hard time getting some of the shots they wanted,” coach Gray said. “Bringing in Kynnedi Hager was just a good matchup for us giving us added size and even though we weren’t able to use her much offensively it made a difference slowing them down,” Gray added.
When the girls headed to the locker room for the halftime intermission, Tri-Village was ahead 25-19 behind 11 points each from Morgan Hunt and Rylee Sagester.
In the 3rd quarter Marion Local worked hard to make life miserable for Rylee Sagester doing everything they could to limit touches or any outside looks. But Sagester attacked the basket getting points on contested lay-ups, scoring at the rim would be the only means of offense for the Patriots in the third as the long shots were a tough find.
Marion Local began to assert themselves offensively scoring both inside and out, again led by Koenig to win the third period 12-9, with the Patriots clinging to a 34-31 lead.
“I think they did everything they needed to do to keep the game interesting and trying to take away things we wanted to do,” Gray commented on Marion staying close.
With the score being its own game of tug of war, the final stanza did not disappoint.
Early in the quarter the Flyers kept things within striking distance while Tri-Village remained poised and began to make big plays down the stretch.
Leading 36-34, Torie Richards who only scored 1 point in the 1st half rose to the occasion, extending the lead to five points with a big corner triple to go up 39-34. Marion would answer again scoring two field goals over the next two and a half minutes.
A patient Tri-Village offense weathered the Flyer physicality and with 2:36 remaining Bella Black on the right wing found an open Kynnedi Hager on the opposite block for an easy fielder, once again putting the Patriots up 3 points 41-38.
“Our kids find ways to rely on their experience demonstrated on a big shot by Torie Richards and then Bella Black finding Kynnedi Hager back door when she was wide open were two plays that really stick out in my mind in the 4th quarter,” coach Gray would say after the game.
But with the Flyers still hanging around and just one possession away from tying the game Rylee Sagester might have come up with the most defining shot.
Sagester was held in check in the 2nd half from distance but on a broken play in transition she created space from her defender with a polished step back move draining a long-range bomb to extend the Patriots lead to 44-38 prompting a Flyers time out in an attempt to regroup.
On the possession out of the timeout, Marion missed a well defended shot, but Koenig grabbed a crucial offensive rebound and was fouled attempting the put back. She missed both shots at the charity stripe and Hager rebounded the miss while garnering a foul sending her to the line for a one-and bonus. Hager converted both attempts to move the Lady Patriots ahead 46-38.
Tri-Village iced the game on the next two trips at the free throw line to bring home a hard fought 50-38 victory.
The Patriots were 10-for-16 from the line while the Flyers were 5-for-12. Marion won the battle of the board with 31 rebounds, 11 offensive, Tri-Village had 30 rebounds and just 4 offensively. The Patriots shot 40% from the field to 28% for the Flyers.
Sagester led in scoring with 22 points, Hunt had 14, Richards 8, Hager 4 and Black 2.
Tri-Village goes to 27-0 and will now play a familiar foe in the Regional Finals, Fort Loramie who defeated Russia 57-42 in the other Regional Semi-Final game. The Patriots won the regionals in 2012 over Fort Loramie. The Redskins are going for their 12th Regional Title. The game will be played Saturday, 1pm at Vandalia High School.