KETTERING – Tri-Village led from start to finish and dispatched Howard East Knox 60-38 in the OHSAA DIV Southwest Regional Semi-Final Tuesday night at Trent Arena to advance into the Elite 8. Just last year TV was undefeated and ranked 1st in the state but came up short to Cedarville in the same round.
“That game remains in our memory from last season, we don’t dwell on it, but it did provide motivation to our team this season,” Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester would say after the game.
Behind Sarver’s shooting, 12 points and suffocating defense, the Patriots jumped out front 16-3 in the opening quarter against East Knox.
“I thought we were really good offensively and defensively especially in the first quarter,” coach Sagester said.
“They have so much offense, height and athleticism and it really caused us to step back a little bit, you just can’t replicate that defense in practice and before you know it we’re down 16-3,” East Knox coach Ryan Powell said.
East Knox was coming off the school’s 1st ever district championship in a 51-36 win over Grove City Christian. They would have to travel 2.5 hours to Kettering to play in the Southwest Regional Tournament.
TV extended the lead to 19-3 in the 2nd quarter before the Bulldogs answered going on an 8-2 run but Sarver & the Patriots continued to make shots and led 32-12 at the break.
East Knox played hard and for a moment in the third quarter had cut into the 20-point margin, but Josh Scantland had a big quarter scoring 6 points in the paint and hit a big triple to help the PATS go back up 48-26 by the end of the 3rd quarter.
“I thought we kept up with them as long as most people have because we were more aggressive in the second half and I only wish we had that mentality in the first half,” Powell said.
Indeed, the Bulldogs kept pace, even into the final quarter and it was something Tri-Village coach Josh Sagester noted.
“Defensively were really good in the first half … but we sort of lost some of our focus in the 2nd half,” Sagester stated.
The two teams only scored 12 points each in the final stanza but with an insurmountable lead the Bulldogs would fall 60-38 to Tri-Village.
Layne Sarver led all scorers in the game with 32 points on 13-for-22 from the field and 4-8 from beyond the arch.
“Obviously he is much better in person than on tape, we were in pretty good position at times on defense, but he would just rise up and shoot over the top,” Powell said.
When Sagester was asked by another reporter if there was any concern about the balance of scoring with Layne scoring 32 points, it didn’t seem to bother him at all.
“Big players got to make big plays in big games and he’s the horse we ride. Our guys did a good job of finding him in a position to be successful. They (East Knox) were trying to take away his drive. He did a good job of recognizing that and shooting the jumper,” Sagester praised.
“We had another senior get a double-double, so we’ve got other guys who are capable and that’s what makes us good. We’ve got other guys show up on other nights, so I’m not concerned about that all,” Sagester added.
The double double came from Josh Scantland who had 13 points and 11 rebounds while Justin Finkbine snared 9 boards in the game.
Seth Cook and Wilson Suggs each had 4 points and Dalton Delong and Tanner Printz each had 3 points in the game.
East Knox was led by Shane Knepp with 21 points. The Patriots kept him in check most of the 1st half before he was able to get on track.
“We lost him (Knepp) a few times in the second half. He was able to get through the lane a little bit and got some free throws,” Sagester said.
The Bulldogs fell to 20-7 on the season while Tri-Village improves to 24-3.
The win sets up the anticipated rematch with Botkins the defending DIV state champs and a team Tri-Village lost to in double overtime 51-50 back on January 16th at “Flyin to The Hoop”.
The winner of this game punches their ticket to the State Final Four to be played in Dayton at UD Arena.
In almost every game this year the Patriots have had a size advantage along with athleticism … but Botkins matches up in every position and features the Southwest District Co-Players of the Year; Layne Sarver of Tri-Village and Jacob Pleiman of Botkins.
“We’re excited be back in the “Elite 8” and our kids have worked extremely hard to get back here and to be in this position. We’ve played tough teams this year to put ourselves in a position to test ourselves both physically and mentally with some tough non-league opponents including our previous game with Botkins. It’s going to be a difficult game but it’s what we’ve prepared for all season long,” Sagester concluded.
The game will be held Friday at Kettering’s James S. Trent Arena at 7pm.