Trent Arena’s tense final minutes didn’t faze Troy Christian’s sophomore sharpshooter.
Grant Zawadzki delivered enough from the free-throw line to keep Tri-Village at bay, and to keep the Eagles alive in Ohio’s Division IV boys basketball tournament.
Zawadzki made 7-of-8 free throws in overtime Tuesday, as Troy Christian held off top-ranked Tri-Village 48-43 in overtime in a regional semifinal.
The Eagles advance to Friday’s final opposite Delphos St. John’s.
Tri-Village senior Kyle Pipenger poured in a game-high 24 points as the Patriots finished 26-1. They were playing in the regional round for the second time in program history
“Tonight’s one game, and one game doesn’t make a season,” said Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester. “You can’t take away what our kids have done. It’s just a tough way to end tonight.”
Tri-Village’s Tyler Cook added 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, with teammate Andrew Willcox grabbing 10 boards for the Patriots.
Zawadzki netted 20 for the Eagles (25-2), who went 14-of-17 from the free-throw line, compared to 10-of-23 for the Patriots.
Tri-Village defeated Troy Christian 56-40 on Jan. 8 in New Madison.
“That’s a good basketball team,” Sagester said of the Eagles. ” … They made some plays.
“They’ve got good players. They’ve got a good coaching staff. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I thought we made enough plays to give ourselves a chance, and the darn free-throw line just got us tonight.”
Rebounding gave Tri-Village an early edge.
The Patriots grabbed 10 boards to none for Troy Christian as they held a 9-6 lead after one quarter.
Slowly, but surely, the Eagles fought their way into it.
Troy Christian tied the game right off the bat in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Spencer Thomas.
That started a 15-7 roll for the Eagles, one they used to claim a 21-16 lead by halftime.
“I thought we did some uncharacteristic things, turned it over for some layups,” Sagester said.
The Eagles also got a lift near the end of the third quarter, when Zawadzki swished a trey from the corner with about 3 seconds left to give his squad a 31-24 advantage.
But don’t count out the Patriots.
Tri-Village scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, then dug out of another seven-point deficit with 1:42 remaining in regulation.
Pipenger scored the next seven points for Tri-Village, and Cook tied the game 39-all with 16 seconds left.
“I thought our kids battled. We played hard,” Sagester said. “That was a gutsy effort in the fourth quarter to get to overtime.”