the bistro off broadway
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Tri-Village senior, Trace Couch, goes hard to the rack for two of his game high 36 points
Friday against Bradford. Couch finished with 12 rebounds and three blocked shots in a 66-54
Cross County Conference victory. CNO Photos by Danny Stockton, stocktonstudio.com
 
Suspensions served - Patriots back to full strength
Tri-Village snaps four game losing streak
By George Starks


NEW MADISON- After losing four of its starting five due to in house suspensions, the Tri-Village Patriots returned to full strength Friday with a Bradford team that came in, ready to play.

Down by as much as 20 points in the fourth quarter, Bradford gave it all it had down the stretch.

Led by junior Andy Branson’s 22 points, 15 from three point land, the visiting Roaders was looking to get their first victory of the season.

Tri-Village had its own agenda.

Riding a four game losing streak, the Patriots had every intention of getting their ship on the right course again.

That ship was piloted by senior Trace Couch.

Couch dumped in 36 points while pulling down 12 boards, seven offensive, and blocking three shots as the Patriots went to 4-4 on the year with a 66-54 Cross County Conference victory Friday.

It was two hard-nosed teams playing hard-nosed defense.

“What you saw tonight on the floor is the same thing I see every day in practice,” Bradford boys basketball coach Mackenzie Perry said. “These guys work extremely hard, and they are now bringing it to the game and starting to believe in themselves. But to get to the next level and to be able to keep up with Tri-Village you have got to execute. You can’t turn the ball over, and when you have opportunities to make free throws you need to make them as well.”

With his normal starting five not starting, Patriots coach Josh Sagester opted to start the five he had been starting in the previous four games.

That lasted until the 4:51 mark of the opening frame when Couch and fellow senior Gavin Richard entered the game.

With the Roaders leading 5-3 at the 3:34 mark of the quarter, Sagester brought juniors Dillion McCullough and Jared Buckley in from the bench and the Patriot strike force was back to full strength.

With the offense slow to come around as the Patriots were quite rusty, the defense was keeping the Roaders in check but with eight minutes gone, Tri-Village held a slim 13-8 lead.

“I think offensively, we got better as the game wore on,” said Pats coach Josh Sagester. “Defensively, we got better but giving up 25 in the fourth quarter, we struggled to keep the ball in front of us but give them (Bradford) credit, they hit 10 three’s. When you hit 10 threes in a game, you’re going to be real competitive and Bradford was tonight.” 

Coming in winless, Sagester gave Bradford its proper accolades.

“Give them credit, they played very hard,” Sagester admitted.

With Couch leading the way, the Patriots never panicked.

“When you score 36 points with 14 field goals, I thought he rushed some shots early but I thought he settled down later and imposed his will on them,” said Sagester. “Then again, they (Bradford) had 10 three’s and we had two. When you add those field goals up the three’s add up faster than the twos but I thought we did a good job of finding him and establishing the post position tonight.”

Leading by a slim 13-8 count after one, the Pats expanded that lead to 10 (18-8) on a trey from Gavin Richards but then Bradford came to life.

The Roaders went on a 10-0 run, knotting thins up on a Trey from Parker Smith with 3:17 left in the half.

The Patriots would close out the half on a 12-2 run to take a 30-20 lead at the break.

In the third eight minutes, the Patriots continued to pound the ball into the post and let Couch do his thing as Bradford would have no answer for him to take a 45-29 lead with eight to play.

“We prepared and we were read,” said Perry. “The boys wanted this. They know the last couple of games they didn’t show what Bradford basketball was. This was a great stage to show what they are all about. As a coach, I have to make sure that when we play Newton, Franklin Monroe and Arcanum, there’s no let downs.”

 With 22 from Branson, Perry spoke of his unheralded junior.

“Andy Branson is a great player,” Perry said. “The kid is always in the gym trying to shoot and get better. He takes on every challenge head on, and I’m just really excited about the way he is coming along and looking forward to the rest of this year and next year as he works to try and get to the next level.”

Tri-Village will host Arcanum on Tuesday. Bradford travels to Newton Tuesday and a date with the Indians.

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Bradford junior Andy Branson hits for two in the paint for the Railroders.
Branson finished the night with 22 points in the loss.
 

 
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