The remaining hopes in Division IV boys both saw their road come to an end in Kettering, as Loramie and Tri-Village fall in the regional semis.
Kettering – To paraphrase Tom Hanks in the old baseball movie, there’s never any excuse with losing.
Even though, one could make the point that against a good team in a one-and-done scenario you can’t dig yourself an 18-point hole and expect to climb out of it, either.
Nor, can you give up the ball repeatedly in a close contest and expect the opposing team to hand it back to you. Doesn’t work that way. Both scenarios will get you beat, as it did to Fort Loramie and Tri-Village in Tuesday night’s regional semi-finals at Trent Arena.
In the first regional semi-final game Ft. Loramie (21-6) was no match for the quickness, the hands, and the athleticism of the Lima Perry Commodores (23-3), falling 52-50. Perry’s pressure, the same that unraveled Minster and Ft. Recovery last week, wreaked havoc with the flow of Loramie’s offense, while their ability to get to the rim, rebound, and keep possessions alive gave the Redskins’ defense fits, as well.
However, Loramie kept it close for the first quarter, trailing 13-11, but fell behind by nine at the half, 30-21.
Perry came out in the third quarter and immediately went on a 11-2 run that looked to put a choke-hold on the Redskins’ season.
But undaunted, they made a determined stand with their zone defense, changed the tempo of Perry on offense, and sophomore Eli Rosengarten began hitting three-point shots. Little by little Loramie whittled the lead down in the fourth quarter, to 9, to 7, and to 5 points with less than a minute remaining.
But forced to foul along the way, Perry hit just enough from the line to keep adding to their point total, as well, enough that one last three-pointer by Rosengarten with five seconds remaining cut the final margin to 52-50 as time ran out.
“Perry is the best we’ve seen all year,” said Loramie’s Corey Britton outside his locker room afterwards. “You just can get down by 18 to a team like that. They’re too good, too athletic, and you just can’t chase them.
“You can’t fault our kids. They played their tails off. We fought, and we fought hard, but we couldn’t do enough of the little things. Very proud of them and their effort. We just came up on the short end of things tonight.”
Eli Rosengarten, who hit three of six from three-point range, and finished with 9 points, by no means was alone in his effort to shoot the ‘Skins back in the game. Junior Dillon Braun was 4 of 9 from behind the arc and led Loramie in scoring with 18 points. Center Tyler Siegel finished with 10. The Redskins shots 50% from the floor, 47% from behind the arc, and 61% from the foul line (8 of 13).
Perry, a team not known for its outside shooting, finished with 42% from the floor, and 40% from three-point range. Orion Monford top three players in double figures with a game-high 20 points, while teammate Jakoby Lane-Harvey had 11 and Kobe Glover finished with 10.
Britton was down, but determined over the progress of his 21-6 Redskins, one of the youngest Division IV teams in the state to have reached the regional round.
“We ran into a senior-laden team tonight,” added Britton. “I can’t say enough about what our two seniors gave us this year, but we’re running around out there with a freshman, four or five juniors and two sophomores, so they were more experienced, they were here last year, and I think they showed that at times tonight.
“Our glass is 3/4s full. It sucks to lose tonight, and I’d trade some of our future for a win tonight, but that’s how it goes sometimes. You learn from your mistakes and hopefully you get better.”
But the nightcap game provided a similar scenario, and one unexpected, at that, as favored Tri-Village (19-8) lost to Cincinnati Christian (22-5), 49-42.
In a game where all other stats proved insignificant, as to shooting percentage, rebounds, assists and points, one glaring failure alone brought the 2015 state winners down with a thud. They could not handle the pressure used by Cincinnati Christian to upset the rhythm of the Patriots’ offense, the trapping of the ball at all points on the floor, and the relentless effort by the Cougars that caused TV to turn the ball over an uncharacteristic 23 times.
“I thought we played the kind of methodical game in the first half that we wanted,” said Patriots coach Josh Sagester, whose team led by four at halftime.
“But in the second half of the game they began to trap the basketball and force our players to make plays, and unfortunately they couldn’t make plays.”
The Cougars, who resembled a taller version of Lima Perry, made it particularly tough on point guard Dillon McCullough with a tandem of the small-and-quick Elijah Taylor, and the big-and-quick Brady Roberts.
But Cincinnati Christian was just as persistent in their tracking of shooting guard Gavin Richards, hounding him, pushing, banging, and whatever was necessary to keep him from taking over the game offensively. In desperate need of an offensive go-to in the waning stages of the game, the Patriots simply had no answers.
“If you can’t dribble and pass in a regional semi-final game you just don’t deserve to win it,” said Sagester, one of the area’s most honest and matter-of-fact. “In my opinion, and that’s what I told our guys…if we can’t dribble and pass you don’t deserve it.”
A team that’s known for its attacking style of offense, Tri-Village became increasingly tentative as Cincinnati Christian’s pressure began to create doubt and indecision.
“They took us out of our sets, I give them credit,” added Sagester. “It became an obvious thing – we struggled to dribble, we struggled to pass. The game was physical – we didn’t take care of the basketball, and three or four of their baskets in the first half were turnovers that they turned into points. But they began to double and triple the ball, we worked on that in practice, but it’s hard to imitate the kind of quickness and length that they had. To their credit they saw some things with us that they thought they could take advantage of and we just didn’t handle it.”
Gavin Richards did finish with a team-high 13 points, while teammate Jared Buckley had 10 and Trace Couch finished with 9.
But Sagester, a fine point guard in his playing days, made no mention about percentages, or points, or rebounds – his observations were as academic as the game gets as to what brought his team’s season to an end.
“I wasn’t thinking about getting up and down with those guys because they were athletic, they’re long, and they kept us from getting the ball into the post. They made good adjustments and they finally got the game in the second half the way they wanted to play.”
Regional play continues Wednesday evening at Trent as the area’s remaining hope in divisions III and IV, Versailles, meets Cincinnati Roger Bacon at 8 pm.
Cincinnati Christian and Lima Perry will now meet on Friday night at Trent (7 pm) to decide the region’s Division IV representative at next week’s state tournament.