TIPP CITY, Ohio
Tri-Village’s defense was good enough Saturday afternoon to keep Yellow Springs scoreless for most of the first quarter.
Good enough to overcome zero field goals in the second quarter, too. And good enough to help the Patriots put away a fourth consecutive Division IV district championship in Ohio girls basketball.
Tri-Village’s playoff push continues, as the New Madison program powered its way to a 55-31 victory at Tippecanoe High School.
Next up is Wednesday’s 7 p.m. regional semifinal on the same floor, opposite Mechanicsburg.
“It feels great to take home another title,” said Tri-Village’s Teha Richards, who led all scorers with 27 points, 11 of them coming in a third quarter that saw the Patriots pull away for good. “It’s always good to get a championship.”
Defense played a big part in this latest crown.
Tri-Village surged to a 13-0 lead, broken up with less than 2 minutes left in the first quarter by a Yellow Springs bucket.
The Bulldogs chipped away, though, closing the gap to 20-15 by halftime. All five of Tri-Village’s points that frame came off free throws.
“I was worried early on,” said T-V coach Brad Gray. “We came out of the gate ready to go, and then I think we let up.
“I’m encouraged by what I saw in the second half from our kids. I kind of got on them a little bit at halftime and really challenged them. I think they came out and answered that bell.”
They answered it with an 8-0 flurry to start the second half. Shaye Thomas capped the run with 6:34 to play in the third quarter, and the Patriot lead was back to double digits.
It stayed there for the duration. Thomas finished with 14 points and Krystal Falknor netted eight as Tri-Village improved to 24-2.
“It was nice,” Thomas said of the fast start. “That was kind of how we wanted to come out (to start the game), and then we let down. Hopefully we can come out and do that on Wednesday, too.”
The Patriot defense forced 14 turnovers in the first half, 24 overall.
Maryah Martin paced Yellow Springs (18-8) with 23 points.
Thomas grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, with Falknor adding seven and Richards five.
Tri-Village’s biggest lead came after Richards turned back-to-back Bulldog turnovers into layups for a 53-26 advantage. About 3 minutes later, the game was over, Tri-Village was moving on and the Patriots were ready to climb the ladder for the ceremonial cutting of the net.
“It feels really good as a senior to come back and win again,” said Tri-Village’s Elizabeth Collins.
“It was really important for us to come back with our defense, because that’s the thing that gets us going in the games when our offense isn’t working.”
The winner of Wednesday’s semifinal advances to the March 9 regional title game at Tippecanoe.
Tri-Village is a defending regional champion as the Patriots earned a spot in Columbus for the state finals for the first time last season.
“It’s the kids,” Gray said. “We’ve had kids who buy in. We have kids who have talent.
“It’s just been a good time right now. At small schools, you go through cycles. We’re fortunate enough right now to have kids who are good basketball players, who like basketball, who put time into basketball.”