Flyin’ to the Hoop: Tri-Village hands Bellbrook first loss in girls showcase

KETTERING – Tri-Village girls basketball coach Brad Gray scouted his Premier Health Flyin’ To The Hoop opponent and drew one conclusion.

“They were scary on film,” he said of Bellbrook.

So he wrote the game plan reminders on the locker-room board, and No. 1 was, “Don’t give up transition buckets” to the state’s fourth-ranked Division I team. So Gray’s team, the fourth-ranked Division IV team obliged their coach and rolled to a 67-37 victory Saturday at Trent Arena, handing Bellbrook its first loss.

“They are really, really good in transition,” Gray said. “I said going into this game maybe one of the better teams I’ve ever coached against in transition.”

The next game-plan key was no live-ball turnovers, and there were few of those. Bellbrook (14-1) built its record by forcing turnovers, difficult missed shots and running to easy baskets.

“That’s one of our strengths and that’s where our defense has been good,” Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher said. “But if they’re making it and going to the free-throw line it’s hard to run.”

Key No. 3 for Tri-Village: Don’t leave Bellbrook sharpshooters Alayna Meyer and Kelley Griffin open for catch-and-shoot 3-pointers. Neither player attempted a three and the Eagles were 3 of 12 from behind the arc and shot 23.8% overall.

“Not allowing those kids to get a three, let alone a catch-and-shoot 3, was huge,” Gray said.

Tincher said: “They put great pressure on our guards. Even when we tried to get into some sets, they made it hard with their guard play and their defense.”

Rylee Sagester led Tri-Village (13-2) with 18 points, Meghan Downing had 15, Torie Richards 13 and Morgan Hunt 12. They shot 44.7%, made 7 of 17 3-point attempts and 18 of 21 free throws.

“They’ve got nice players, they’ve got a great inside-out, they’ve got great high-low stuff with their bigs and their guards, and we knew that coming in,” Tincher said. “We were a little bit undersized, but at the same time they played an excellent game.”

Downing, who is 6-foot-2, scored 11 in the first half and totaled 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Her size, back-to-the-basket offensive prowess and shot-altering presence on defense sparked the Patriots to an early lead and a 36-21 lead at the half.

“Meghan was unreal in the first half,” Gray said. “She really set the tone and is playing with a lot of confidence right now, and that’s huge for us.”

Taylor Scohy and Olivia Trusty led the Eagles with nine points apiece.

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