The Indians were the underdog entering Tuesday’s game against undefeated and D-IV top-ranked Tri-Village. Coach Ryan Godlove and his team, however, didn’t see it that way.
“We didn’t even try to play that angle,” Godlove said. “We all thought we could compete with them. That’s no disrespect to them. We knew they were a good team and we didn’t think we were going to come in and just win. We thought we could compete. We feel like we’re a tough team as well, especially after the way we played against Jackson Center. We knew we could come in and hold our own.”
The Indians proved it in the first quarter, grabbing a 16-13 after the first quarter. They led 28-27 with a minute to go in the second quarter until Sarver scored two quick baskets to end the half to give the Patriots a 31-28 halftime lead.
Tri-Village opened the second half on a 7-0 run, grabbing a 38-28 lead and forcing a Cedarville timeout early in the third quarter. The Indians, however, went on a 15-5 run to tie the score at 43 heading into the fourth quarter.
With Tri-Village playing a diamond-and-1 zone on Koning, the rest of the Indians stepped up to bring them back into the game. Ramey, senior Peyton Herron and sophomores Hayden Hanson and Drew Koning all hit big shots during that stretch.
“This year, we’ve got a lot more confidence together as a team,” Godlove said. “Guys being seniors aren’t scared to take some of those shots and have confidence in their ability and each other. All year we’ve had different guys contributing.”
Indians senior Caleb McKinion hit a jumper to open the fourth quarter, Trent Koning followed with four straight free throws and Ramey made another layup to give Cedarville a 51-43 lead it would never relinquish. The Patriots cut the lead to six twice in the fourth quarter, but wouldn’t get any closer.
Godlove could only describe the game as a “roller-coaster ride.”
“These guys have been fighting through adversity,” Godlove said. “It’s been a crazy year with COVID and that’s been the key this year — fight through and persevere. I thought the guys kept their heads and didn’t get down. That’s the No. 1 team in the state and they hadn’t lost a game all year. For the guys to keep fighting and persevere like they did, I thought it was a great team win.”
The Indians advanced to play Botkins with a state semifinal berth on the line at 7 p.m. Friday at Vandalia Butler. Botkins beat Newark Catholic 75-50 in the other regional semifinal game.
“We know they’re tough,” Godlove said. “We’re going to prepare and do what we can to try and be ready for them.”
Botkins 75, Newark Catholic 50: The Trojans utilized a full-court press in the second quarter, outscoring the Green Wave 27-10 in the period to advance to their first regional final appearance since 1994.
Trojans senior Jayden Priddy-Powell scored 24 points and junior Jacob Pleiman added 16 as Botkins improved to 24-3 overall.
Newark Catholic junior Cole Canter scored a game-high 31 points, hitting six 3-pointers, as the Green Wave finished its season 11-13.
Botkins junior Jameson Meyer spurred the big run in the second quarter, hitting three 3-pointers. He scored 18 of the 21 points in the first half and finished with seven 3-pointers.
“Today I took a minute to reflect on Day 1 when I got here, looking at past videos of the kids in the locker room giving it their all,” said third-year Trojans coach Sean Powell. “Our weight room is like 100 degrees and it’s June or July and we had 100 percent involvement. We didn’t win this game today, we won it three years ago when they committed to the program.”