BERLIN HILAND – The #1 DIV Tri-Village girls basketball team came in with a 15-0 record against a hungry #3 team Toledo Christian at the prestigious Classic in the Country basketball showcase.
The Patriots got off to a fast start bolting out to a 17-4 first quarter lead thanks to solid defense and some good shooting. After Rylee Sagester connected on a triple to break a 4-4 tie they shut down the Eagles the rest of the quarter.
First team all-state guard Kendall Braden was unable to shake the man-to-man defense by Torie Richards to get going.
But in the second quarter Toledo Christian changed things up and began working the ball into 6’0 MacKenzie Royal-Davis and she was able to power her way to the basket for some easy scores.
Additionally, the Eagles full court pressure slowed down the pace for TV and created a few turnovers leading to some scores allowing them to close the gap to 21-17 at the break.
It was more of the same to start the 3rd frame with Royal-Davis banging inside for a few more scores and then a triple by Jordan Rosales to give the Eagles the lead for the first time 25-23 at 5:35 prompting a timeout by Patriot coach Brad Gray.
“We had to change things up a bit on Royal-Davis with Kynnedi guarding her and to her credit, most of time she stayed straight up and made things difficult by staying physical,” Gray said.
Shutting down her scoring was just one benefit of having Hager in the game … but she also became a key piece of the offense as she found herself getting some easy buckets inside that opened up the floor providing spacing and lanes for the Patriots to exploit.
After letting the lead slip the Patriots went on a 17-3 run highlighted by Torie Richards drive and then a foul at the buzzer for a lay-up to open up their largest lead in the game 40-28 by the end of the 3rd quarter.
Tri-Village continued to build the lead going up 48-28. Sagester hit a triple, Hunt on drive to the basket and Hager a reverse lay-up and a foul that got the bench up and the crowd for the Patriots excited as well.
The only thing the Patriots needed to do was take care of the basketball and play solid on defense the rest of the way and they did just that to earn a high-quality win 50-35.
Tri-Village has offensive weapons but it’s the secret weapon unleashed in Torie Richards that is a key to winning, by taking away the other team’s best scorers.
“If they gave out first-team All-Ohio for defensive performance, Torie Richards might be the player of the year in the state,” Gray said. “What she does defensively against the other’s team best player is what makes us go.”
While Torie is the catalyst that makes them go on defense the rest of the team was just as stingy and solid on defense as well. Hunt had 5 steals, Hager shut down Royal-Davis and they held a high scoring team well below their season average.
For the game Hager led with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Hunt had 15 points, 5 steals, 4 assist and 6 rebounds. Sagester had 11 points, 4 assist and 8 rebounds. Richards had 8 points.
“We come to these events to challenge ourselves as a team, to learn to play at a high level, with focus and our “A” game. Today we overcame adversity, adjusted and finished strong,” Gray concluded.
Tri-Village improves to 16-0 and faces another stiff test Wednesday night taking on #2 Blackford from Indiana Wednesday night.
Score By Quarter
TC: 04 13 11 07 – 35
TV: 17 04 19 10 – 50
TC: Butler 2, Braden 10, Royal-Davis 16, Rosales 7
TV: Sagester 11, Hunt 15, Richards 8, Hager 16