It was a time to celebrate. It was a time to cry.
A moment to salute the fans and say good-bye.
Tyler Cook and Tommy Bell’s careers came to an end at the biggest stage of Ohio high school basketball.
It was a bittersweet moment.
Tri-Village made history. But the Patriots were sent home early.
A strong first half and three solid quarters gave Tri-Village hope.
However, Convoy Crestview’s dominant third quarter did enough damage to put an end to a magical season with a 54-50 defeat over the Patriots.
Tri-Village ends its season 26-2. Crestview (28-0) plays for a state title at 1:30 p.m. today.
“I think it’s a hard pill, but these are 16-, 17-, 18-year olds that are playing on the highest platform and are going to make mistakes, coaches are going to make mistakes — it’s not like we’re here every year,” Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester said following Thursday night’s defeat. “When we get back here, or if we do, maybe we’ll be a little bit more relaxed, but I don’t know that one game can sum up our season.”
There certainly are more memories for the Patriots, who are a collective 72-6 in the last three years.
* On Jan. 24, the Patriots were held scoreless for the entire first quarter and trailed by 20 entering the fourth quarter, before rallying for a 58-55 overtime win over Bethel.
* The only regular-season loss on Feb. 4 ended what at the time was the longest regular-season winning streak in the state of Ohio.
And the post-season history:
In 2012, Tri-Village fell to Jackson Center in the district title game, but not without taking the then-No. 1-ranked team to overtime.
The Patriots avenged that last year — and completed an undefeated regular season — before falling to Troy Christian in the regional semifinal.
Payback for that was had this year, too, as the Patriots won the regional title, their second in school history, and advanced to Ohio’s final four for the first time since 1991.
And once they got there, they made their presence known.
Senior Tyler Cook scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in a strong first half that saw the Patriots lead by as many as seven. Junior Mason McCabe hit a key 3-pointer in the first quarter to give them a lead they would hold into halftime.
Junior Damion Cook carried the offense with six of the team’s eight points in the second quarter.
And the Cook cousins dominated the boards all night long, helping the Patriots take a 24-19 lead into the locker room.
“I really thought in the first quarter we had the tempo where we wanted it. Fairly methodical, fairly deliberate,” Sagester said. “… Second half, for a few reasons they were able to speed us up and I think cost us some uncharacteristic turnovers.”
The Patriots’ undoing came in the third quarter where the Knights took advantage of those turnovers and outscored the Patriots 15-4 for a 34-28 lead.
But the resilient bunch came up with key shots in the fourth quarter, once again out-scoring the only remaining undefeated team in Ohio 22-20. Another key 3-pointer by McCabe. Six points by Colton Linkous. More from the Cooks. But the Patriots fell just short.
“… I thought their pressure began to wear us down a little bit as the game progressed, but I thought our kids played hard,” Sagester said. “Really, the way you look at it, we had a really poor third quarter and that summed it up.”
Tyler Cook graduates with more than 1,000 career points. Twenty of those came in Thursday’s semifinal, along with eight rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.
“Ending my season with these guys is just a blessing,” he said. “Coach, he’s coached me for four years and before that and everything and I just couldn’t ask for a better way to end it with all these guys and a coach like him.”
Bell is another senior, who made the leap from junior varsity to varsity starter. He played just nine minutes Thursday as he battled foul trouble, but has been a leader, Sagester said.
“He meant a lot to the program,” Sagester said. “Sometimes his contributions didn’t show up in the stat sheet, but he’s a leader for us on and off the floor. He defended extremely well for us, made some key shots for us, is a program kid, has come all the way through and as a senior got his opportunity and definitely made the most of it.”
Damion Cook had 16 points, nine rebounds and a pair of assists. Colton Linkous had eight points and three assists and McCabe hit a pair of 3-pointers for his six points in the game. Tyler VanWinkle also had three assists.
“It was frustrating, but again, it’s basketball, it’s why you play it,” Sagester said. “Our kids battled, we battled in the fourth to give ourselves a chance and to their credit, they (Convoy Crestview) made free throws.”