Convoy Crestview quickly undid Tri-Village’s strong second-quarter performance.
The Knights showed why they are the only remaining undefeated team in Ohio.
And why they are now a victory away from a state championship.
Crestview advanced to Saturday’s OHSAA Division IV state championship game by defeating Tri-Village 54-50 in Thursday’s boys basketball semifinal at Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.
The Knights (28-0) advance to play Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (18-11) in Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. state title game.
St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Canal Winchester Harvest Prep 54-41 in Thursday’s first semifinal.
Tri-Village led the majority of the first half of Thursday’s second semifinal, and by as many as seven late in the second quarter.
Trailing 24-19 at halftime, the Knights scored seven quick points in the first minute of the third quarter, tying the game at 24-all, then taking a 26-24 lead as Tyson Bolenbaugh converted a field goal.
“I thought in the first quarter, we had the tempo where we wanted it,” Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester said. “… Second half, for a few reasons, they were able to speed us up and I think caused us some uncharacteristic turnovers. Shot a few quick shots and was able to get us a little discombobulated a little bit at times. I thought their pressure began to wear us down a little bit as the game progressed, but I thought our kids played hard and really the way you look at it, the third quarter, that summed it up.”
Tri-Village outscored Crestview in three of the four quarters, but a 15-4 advantage in the third gave the Knights a 34-26 lead heading into the final frame.
Colton Linkous hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to keep the Patriots within four, and later was fouled and dropped in three free throws, but eventually fouled out.
Damion Cook completed a three-point play to keep them within 50-47, but Crestview was solid at the free-throw line all night and that continued in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.
Tyler Cook scored 20 points to lead Tri-Village. Damion Cook had 16, Linkous eight and Mason McCabe six. Damion Cook also had a team-high nine rebounds and two assists, while Tyler Cook had eight rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.
Linkous and Tyler VanWinkle each had three assists.
Crestview’s Cam Etzler hit a nonchalant 3-pointer about 25 seconds after tip-off.
After missed opportunities by Tri-Village, Tyler Cook finally hit an inside basket to make it 3-2, but the Knights responded with four straight points.
Cook and Linkous each had baskets to get the Patriots within one, and after a pair of free throws from Damian Helm, Cook followed with four straight points. His first jumper pulled Tri-Village within 9-8. The second gave them their first lead, 10-9.
Crestview’s Isaiah Simerman hit a 3 to give the Knights their final lead of the half, 12-10.
However, the jitters were gone, and McCabe regained the lead for Tri-Village with a confident 3-pointer of his own. Damion Cook added another to stretch the Patriot lead to 16-12 after the opening frame.
Damion Cook did most of the scoring in the second quarter. He scored the first basket to make it 18-12 and Crestview responded with five straight points to get within one.
However, Damion Cook responded with an old-fashioned three-point play and hit another free throw before Tyler Cook scored a basket to give T-V a seven-point lead, 24-17.
But Crestview switched its defense after halftime, and 1:05 into the third quarter had tied the game on a basket by Preston Zaleski.
Tri-Village is 72-6 in the past three years. The Patriots’ only loss last year ended their season in the regional semifinal.
This year, they lost to Franklin Monroe in the regular season, eventually sharing the Cross County Conference title with the Jets.
Tri-Village (26-2) was making only its second boys basketball appearance in the final four. The Patriots advanced to the title game in 1991 before falling to St. Henry.
“I think it means an awful lot,” said Tri-Village athletic director Brad Gray, who is also the girls basketball coach. “Obviously it means a lot for the kids, but I think it means just as much for our community. Our community is a basketball-crazy community and for our boys to have this kind of success this year kind of reminds everybody of 1991. For all these years that I’ve been at Tri-Village, people talk about 1991 like it’s yesterday, so now we give them something a little more recent to talk about.”
And for the first half, the Patriots had a lot of positives to talk about.