Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.


Tri-Village played nearly perfect basketball, justifying their #2 state ranking, and sending a signal to any and all in the sectional and district tourneys that the road to the regional will pr0bably go through the Patriots.

Sidney – The undefeated (20-0) Tri-Village Patriots made a statement Tuesday night, winning 55-26 over the Lehman Cavaliers.

In a critical game between two teams deemed worthy of sectional title considerations, both Tri-Village and the Lehman were hoping to hone, to sharpen, their competitive talents and toughness for the upcoming sectional tournament.  Eight minutes in it became obvious…that it was no game at all.

It was a clinic!

A clinic put on by the Patriots, who raced out to a 15-2 first-quarter lead over the cold-as-ice Cavaliers.  They led 19-5 at the end of one, 33-13 at the half.

Lehman, who had braced to stop 20-point-per-game scorer Kyle Pipenger, found themselves with bigger worries.  Tri-Village didn’t need Pipenger, shooting 54% for the half and connecting on six of nine three-point attempts…from Shade Brubaker (11 pts.), Matt Warner (6 pts.), and Tyler Cook (13 pts.)  It’s true that Pipenger would finish the night with 16 points, but there were just too many weapons beside him.

The Patriots’ ball movement tied Lehman in knots.  And the Cavs’ failure to close out on three-point shooters was like waving a pork chop in front of a hungry wolf to the sharp-shooting kids from New Madison, Ohio.

Too many weapons, including power and points inside for the Patriots Tuesday from center Tyler Cook (#44, above), who finished with 13 points.

Defensively, T-V held Lehman to just 23% for the first half (5-22), and 20% for the game, on 9 of 40 shooting.  So dominant were the Patriots on defense that they failed to score a field goal in the fourth quarter playing mostly JVs,  and Lehman couldn’t close a 20-point margin that was as large as 28 in the second half.

“We played really well,”  said senior point guard Matt Warner.  “It was one of those nights when we knew it was their senior night, that they would come out with a lot of energy, so we wanted to come out fired up.  We moved the ball well against their zone and got a lot of good early shots out of it.”

And demonstrated early, and to all there to scout them, that the Patriots record represents a lot more than any particular team’s focus on stopping Kyle Pipenger.

“I’m sure they came out to stop Kyle, but we have a lot of guys who can hurt you by doing different things.  Brubaker (Shade) can step up and hit some shots and obviously “Cookie” (Tyler Cook) is a big force for us in the post.  I hit some shots tonight when I needed to, so yes, we have a lot of weapons.”

The 55 points scored on offense won’t raise eyebrows in Wednesday’s box scores.  But the fact that they held an athletic Lehman team,  that two weeks previous had shut down Versailles, to just 26 points and 20% shooting was enough to blacken the eyes of those there for a close-up look at the undefeated and #2-ranked (AP) Patriots.

“We played about as well as you can.  I was really happy with our effort,”  said coach Josh Sagester of his team’s effort.  “Look, this was a very big game for us.  We came in here expecting a challenge from a team that beat Versailles, from a team that’s got size and the ability to score.  We did just about everything right, and our defense was outstanding.

Kyle Pipenger got enough open looks to lead all scorers in the game with 16 points.

“It’s nice to have the senior experience that we have, kids who have been through it so many times before.  They know what needs to be done to win.  I told them in the locker room that we would need to control their point guard’s contribution (Connor Richard), and Matt Warner goes out and just shuts him down…held him scoreless.  We moved the ball on offense and found the open man throughout the game.  Kyle was a little sluggish tonight, but our team play picked us up.”

It raises some questions in the minds of the Lehman Cavaliers, now 9-11, as to which Lehman you’re going to see on a given night, especially against quality competition.  It has to.

After impressive January wins over Sidney and Versailles, for the second time in two weeks, against Troy Christian and Tri-Village, the Cavaliers have been unable to, in words of their own coach (Isaiah Williams), get out of their own way.

“But they’re a good team,” said Williams after Tuesday’s shutdown.  “A very good team.  They did everything right tonight.”

And the term “clinic” really doesn’t do justice to the personality of that 20-o record, if records can indeed have a personality.  They’re far from robots, these Patriots.  A team full of seniors playing in their final weeks together after so many years of being teammates, they’re having a lot of fun doing it.

“Yes it is,” smiled Matt Warner before boarding the bus back to Darke County.  “When you’re a point guard and you have that many weapons it’s a lot of fun.  When you’re 20-0 it’s even more fun.”

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