By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — The Troy Christian boys basketball team celebrated Senior Night the only way they know how.
With a Metro Buckeye Conference win.
The Eagles (14-7, 10-3 MBC) said goodbye to its outgoing senior class — a group that has only lost four times in MBC play during their careers — with a convincing 62-49 victory over Middletown Christian Friday night at home, the second game of a three-game homestand to close the regular season.
Before the game, Troy Christian honored its three seniors — Jackson Kremer, Connor Case and Chace Varvel — and the trio came up big during the game, as well. Kremer posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and also threw in five assists and four blocks, Case added seven points and five assists and Varvel scored five.
“I’m very proud of my three seniors. They’ve meant a lot to this program,” Troy Christian coach Ray Zawadzki said. “They’re 34-10 in their career and 23-4 in the MBC. They’re really special, and they played that way tonight. They played with a purpose and a passion, and it really showed. They’ve been great leaders for our program and left a great legacy for the players that will follow.”
Junior Tyler Jackson scored 15 first-half points en-route to a career-high 16 points to lead all scorers for the Eagles. Isaac Gray chipped in eight points and Brady Clawson added seven points and eight rebounds as Troy Christian led 18-11 after the first quarter and never looked back, building a 37-21 halftime lead and coasting from there.
“I was really proud of our energy tonight,” Zawadzki said. “The ball had a lot of purpose in the way it was moving against the zone, and Tyler stepped up, came off the bench and provided a spark that got us a lead we would never relinquish.”
Troy Christian traveled to Miami Valley to finish the regular season Saturday. The Eagles will open sectional tournament play with a first-round game against Miami East Feb. 23 at Butler.
BRANDT — This year’s meeting between Bethel and Tri-Village may not have had the stakes of the past two seasons.
But the Bees were fired up all the same.
Bethel, which entered the year as the two-time defending Cross County Conference champion, finished the regular season 12-10 overall and 7-5 in the CCC after a dominant showing against the Patriots Friday at home, winning 83-49.
Hot on the heels of his first career triple-double in the Bees’ previous game, Kendal James got things going early and finished with 28 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots. And with the Patriots forced to commit their defense to stopping James on the drive, the rest of the Bees began draining 3s, finishing with 12 as a team on the night.
“Kendal, we feed off of him,” Bethel coach Brett Kopp said. “He started early, and they couldn’t keep him away from the rim. That gave everybody else confidence, and we hit 12 3s after that. That’s what we do, and when we’re doing that, we’re pretty good.”
Jared Evans posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, Ethan Rimkus hit four 3s and added 13 more points, Cade Young hit three 3s and scored 10 points and Tompson Bean hit a pair of 3s and chipped in eight points as Bethel took a 20-9 lead after the first, a 40-19 lead at halftime and a 65-37 lead after three.
“Tri-Village is going to be really, really good in a few years. We just wanted to keep them in front of us (defensively),” Kopp said. “It’s a rivalry game, so our goals were to win the rivalry game and make sure we finished with a winning record. We came out and defended our tails off, and that gave us some energy on the offensive end.”
Bethel now has a first-round bye in the sectional tournament. The Bees will play on Feb. 28 at Northmont against the winner between Preble Shawnee and West Liberty-Salem.
NEW LEBANON — Milton-Union had already won the most games it had in a year since the 2014-15 season.
The Bulldogs wanted to go one step further, though.
Milton-Union closed out the regular season with back-to-back wins Friday night, holding off Dixie 51-47 in Southwestern Buckeye League play to finish with an 8-14 record, 4-8 in division play.
The Bulldogs hadn’t won more than three games in a season since it won seven in 2014-15, and they won nine the year before that in 2013-14. In fact, the eight wins matches the total amount of victories the team has had in the past three seasons combined.
Aaran Stone had 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench to lead Milton-Union. Sam Case added 13 points, A.J. Lovin added eight points and four assists and Caleb Wintrow chipped in seven points as the Bulldogs led 11-7 after the first quarter, maintained that lead at 20-16 at halftime, built a 35-28 lead after three and held off a late charge by the Greyhounds.
“It was Dixie’s Senior Night, so give a lot of credit to them. They’re 0-20, so to play as hard as they did and battle the way they did says a lot about their kids,” Milton-Union coach Rusty Berner said. “We’ve played three games in the last four days, the last two on the road in the league and both of those in loud hostile environments. The kids had to really fight for this one, and I’m proud of the way we did that.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to tough out ugly wins on the road — but they’re still wins.”
Milton-Union will now play either Dayton Christian or Madison in the second round of the sectional tournament on Feb. 26 at Butler.
PLEASANT HILL — Newton rallied from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit Friday against rival Covington, outscoring the Buccaneers 23-5 in the final eight minutes to claim a 49-41 victory in Cross County Conference action.
Ryan Mollette scored 19 points and Chet Jamison added 18 as Newton (7-14, 3-8 CCC) fell behind 17-7 after the first quarter, trimmed that lead to 26-19 at halftime but fell behind 36-26 heading into the fourth.
Kleyton Maschino led the Buccaneers (5-16, 4-8 CCC) with 13 points, Andrew Cates added nine and Gray Harshbarger scored seven.
Newton traveled to Tri-County North Saturday to close out the regular season and will have a first-round bye in the sectional tournament, playing on Feb. 26 against the winner between Legacy Christian and East Dayton Christian. Covington will face Fort Loramie in the first round of the sectional tournament at Piqua on Feb. 22.
Miss. Valley 55,
Miami East 29
UNION CITY — The Miami East Vikings struggled in their regular season finale Friday night at Mississinawa Valley, falling 55-29 in Cross County Conference play.
Miami East (9-13, 6-6 CCC) led 10-9 after one but was outscored 16-4 in the second quarter to fall behind 25-14 at halftime, and the Blackhawks put the game away with a 21-5 third-quarter performance.
Sam Zapadka led the Vikings with nine points, Keegan Mahaney added seven and Brendon Bertsch scored five.
Miami East will open sectional tournament play against Troy Christian Feb. 23 at Butler.
VANDALIA — The Tippecanoe Red Devils couldn’t play spoiler Friday night, falling behind early and never being able to regain ground as Butler clinched the outright Greater Western Ohio Conference American North championship with a 67-60 victory.
The Aviators (20-2, 13-2 GWOC American North) — who clinched a share of the title with a win against division runner-up Sidney on Tuesday — took a 16-7 lead after the first quarter Friday, which proved to be the difference in the game as Tippecanoe cut the lead to 31-26 at halftime and stayed with striking distance at 46-46 heading into the fourth quarter.
Three Red Devils finished in double figures on the night, with Zach Frederick leading the way with 17 points. Nolan Mader added 16 points and Ben Knostman scored 12.
Tippecanoe finished the regular season 7-15, 4-11 in the GWOC American North. The Devils will face Meadowdale in the first round of the sectional tournament Feb. 23 at Springfield.
Other scores: Lehman (8-12, 5-3 NWCC) 46, Temple Christian 36.
• Girls Basketball
Miami East 47,
COVINGTON — The Miami East girls basketball team, ranked No. 5 in the Division III sectional tournament, survived a first-round scare from No. 15 Carlisle Saturday, defeating the Indians 47-40 to open the postseason at Covington High School.
Three Vikings players were in double figures on the day, led by Morgan Haney’s 15 points. Camryn Miller added 12, Maria Staton had 10 and Rori Hunley chipped in four as Miami East (16-7) took an 8-3 lead after the first quarter and a 21-10 halftime lead.
But Carlisle (9-14) stayed within striking distance after three quarters, trailing 29-19, and hit five fourth-quarter 3-pointers to cut into the Vikings’ lead, outscoring them 24-18 in the final eight minutes as East held on in the end. Caitlyn Stewart hit four 3s in the game and led the Indians with 13 points.
Miami East will now face No. 8 Preble Shawnee, a 51-25 winner over Indian Lake on Saturday, Wednesday night in the second round.
Division I: No. 10 Springfield 58, No. 11 Piqua 50.
Division III: No. 10 Greenon 43, No. 9 Milton-Union 32.
Division IV: No. 2 Covington 56, No. 13 Tri-County North 19. No. 4 Troy Christian 44, No. 10 Twin Valley South 29.
Editor’s note: For more information on the rest of Saturday’s girls postseason games, look in Tuesday’s upcoming issue of the Miami Valley Today.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.