VANDALIA – The Tri-Village Lady Patriots battled back from a slow first-quarter start and a 25-22 halftime deficit to win going away in second-half play to defeat the DI Vandalia-Butler Lady Aviators on their home court by a double-digit 44-33 score.
“The start definitely wasn’t good,” said Tri-Village veteran coach, Brad Gray. “Give Vandalia credit, they came out and hit us in the mouth to start the game. We were reeling a little bit but I was proud our kids stuck with it. Defensively the second half we were outstanding – we only gave up eight points in the second half.”
The Lady Aviators came into the night averaging 41.6 points per game while Tri-Village took the court with a 57.5 season average.
Butler, standing atop the Miami Valley League (MVL) with a 14-3 conference mark doubled up on the Lady Patriots owners of a 10-0 WOAC mark in the opening quarter of play taking a 16-8 lead to second-quarter action. Tai Mize canned two first-quarter 3-pointers for Tri-Village.
Tri-Village battled back to knot the score at 16-16 with Kynnedi Hager going 2-2 at the line. Butler regained a 20-16 lead before Kenna Wilcox went 2-2 at the stripe to even the score at 20-20 with 2:45 on the second quarter clock.
The Lady Aviators went back up 22-20 with Kiersten Wilcox answering with a jumper from the free throw line to tie the score at 22-22 with five seconds left on the clock. Butler raced the ball up-court in time for 5’11” senior Natalie Schoenherr to drain a 3-point buzzer beater giving Butler a 25-22 lead at the break.
“I was really frustrated about that three going in before the half but the way our kids responded defensively the second half – we have to be able to do that,” stated Gray. “That’s how we’re going to keep ourselves in games.”
“We don’t have the offensive explosiveness that we’ve had in recent years right now,” Gray continued. “We may get there at some point but right now that’s just not who we are. Defensively we have to hang our hat on getting stops and keeping teams under that 40 points. If we can do that we at least have a chance to win. We gave up 25 in the first half, we can’t give up 25 in a half and expect to be competitive.”
Tri-Village battled back with an 8-4 run to open third-quarter play and lead 30-29 at the 2:08 mark. A Kynnedi Hager basket closed out third-period scoring with Tri-Village taking a 32-29 lead to the final quarter of play. Hager paced Tri-Village with six of the team’s 10 third-quarter points while the Lady Patriots’ defense was holding Butler to a total of four.
“If we play through Kynnedi we’re better,” said Gray. “Early in the game we weren’t doing that as much. In the second half, we were better about getting it to her, helping get their big girl in foul trouble.”
Kiersten Wilcox drained a Lady Patriots 3-pointer at 6:56 in the fourth giving Tri-Village a 35-29 advantage and a Kynnedi Hager free throw upped the Tri-Village lead to 36-29.
“She’s over 50 percent on the year from three,” Gray said of Kiersten. “She doesn’t shoot very many of them. She does that in practice, she does hit shots when she’s open and has time to get her feet under her. She’s a consistent shot-maker. In the first half she hits a jumper to tie it up.”
A DeLong old-fashioned 3-point play gave Tri-Village a double-digit 39-29 lead with 3:35 on the clock. Butler hit back-to-back baskets cutting the Lady Patriots lead to 39-33 but with time winding down Butler was forced to foul sending Hines to the line to go 2-2 upping the Tri-Village lead to 41-33. Sydnee DeLong was next at the Patriots line to go 2-2 and a 43-33 Tri-Village lead. Kynnedi Hager hit a free throw for the final point of the game giving the Lady Patriots a convincing 11-point win over the Butler Lady Aviators. Tri-Village went 7-9 at the charity stripe down the fourth quarter stretch to secure the win.
“Hitting those down the stretch is important because we got that lead and they had to come after us a little bit more aggressively,” said Coach Gray. “We shoot the free throws well, we’re over 70 percent for the year as a team so we expect when we get to the line it’s going to be good for us. I would like to see us get there a little bit more.”
The Lady Patriots defense was on display in the second half holding the home standing Lady Aviators to eight total points, four each in the third and fourth quarters.
“She’s a gifted athlete,” Gray said of Adalynn Hines. “We’ve not had very many kids that have been as athletic as she is. She is fast, a track stud and she can go get a ball – if it’s a race to the ball she’s there. She’s not tall but she jumps extremely well and she is a kid who has a sense for where the ball is going to go, some natural ability that she has and she doesn’t get tired. She’s a kid who plays with a high level of effort and doesn’t get tired as the game goes on. She tends to get more energized as the game goes on. She’s been a nice addition for us this second half of the season.”
Still missing from the Lady Patriots lineup was injured Belle Black, a starter on the Lady Patriots 2022-2023 state championship team. There is a good possibility Black may be back for the tournament run.
“Sounds like we’re going to,” Coach Gray said of Black’s possible return. “We’re really happy about that.”
Kynnedi Hager led Tri-Village and all players with a game-high 12 points in the Lady Patriots non-conference win.
With the win, Tri-Village improves to 17-3 overall while Butler drops to 16-5 on the season.
TRI-VILLAGE – Kynnedi Hagar 12, Tai Mize 10, Sydnee DeLong 7, Adalynn Hines 6, Kiersten Wilcox 5, Kenna Wilcox 4 – TOTALS 12 11-14 3 44
Vandalia-Butler –L. Dady 10, A. Washburn 10, N. Schoenherr 9, N. Smith 4 – TOTALS 11 2-3 3 33
Tri-Village 3 (Tai Mize 2, Kiersten Wilcox 1)
Vandalia-Butler 3 (A. Washburn 2, N. Schoenherr 1)
SCORE by QUARTERS
08-14-10-12 44 Tri-Village
16-09-04-04 33 Vandalia-Butler