By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
BROOKVILLE —- It may have been tough to do after an overtime loss to top-seed Tri-Village ended Bradford girls basketball team’s season in a Brookville D-IV sectional final Wednesday night.
But, Bradford coach Chris Besecker knew he had a lot to smile about after the 55-49 loss.
The Railroaders closed the season at 18-7, while Tri-Village improves to 23-1.
And it wasn’t even just about pushing the Patriots to the limit — Bradford lost Skipp Miller and Alexis Barhorst to knee injuries during the season. And a group made up mostly of freshman and sophomores —- Bianca Keener was the lone senior —- just kept improving with every game.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these girls,”Besecker said. “Not just the tournament run. I mean we lost our leading scorer and rebounder in the middle of the season. I think we went 12-4 without Skipp (Miller).”
And despite a big game by the Patriots’ Lissa Siler, the Railroaders were four minutes from a huge win.
Austy Miller made big shots all game, including four 3-pointers, to keep Bradford in the game.
She had a putback to get Bradford within 44-43 with 5:40 to play.
“That’s what Austy (Miller) does,” Besecker said.
And even after a basket by Siler put Tri-Village up 48-43, Bradford wouldn’t go away.
Freshman Rylee Canan hit a three with just over two minutes remaining to get Bradford within 48-46.
After a series of turnovers by both teams, Tri-Village’s Emma Printz hit one of two free throws with 20.3 seconds to go to make it 49-46.
Then, Rylee Canan worked her magic again with 10.7 seconds left, finding nothing but net from beyond the top of the key to tie the game at 49.
“It is funny because she had been struggling with her shot,” Besecker said. “But, the good thing is, she has no conscious. She is going to keep shooting.”
Tri-Village turned the ball over after a timeout, but Bradford’s desperation shot was off the mark.
While neither team would make a field goal in the extra period, Tri-Village made six of eight free throws to record the 55-49 victory.
“We just couldn’t hit a shot,” Besecker said about the overtime.
Bradford come out on fire, opening leads of 8-4 and 12-7 as Miller hit two 3-pointers in the opening quarter and Rylee Canan added one.
But, it took all of that just to stay in the game — as Siler was eight of nine from the floor with four threes and 2-for-2 from the line in a 22-point first half to propel the Patriots to a 33-24 lead at the break.
“She (Lissa Siler) was unconcious,” Besecker said. “And we weren’t getting through the screens to her in time.”
Siler then hit a three to open the second half and make it 36-24, but Bradford held her to three points the rest of the way as the Railroaders rallied.
“That was just a mental mistake,” Besecker said about the three to start the second half.”We had a girl in help defense on her come off her.”
Threes by Rylee Canan and Cassi Mead pulled the Railroaders within 44-38 at the end of the third quarter and the Railroaders continued to rally before losing in overtime.
Miller led the Railroaders with 19 points and Rylee Canan scored 16.
Siler finished with a game-high 28 points for Tri-Village.
Maddie Downing had nine points and nine rebounds, while Printz had nine points and Meghan Downing scored seven.
Bradford was 17 of 42 from the floor for 41 percent and five of eight from the line for 63 percent.
Tri-Village was 18 of 34 from the floor for 52 percent and 13 of 17 from the line for 76 percent.
The Patriots won the battle of the boards 21-18, but had 26 turnovers to the Railroaders 13.
“I think it does (the season and tournament run help Bradford heading into next season),” Besecker said. “I just love coaching these girls.”
And they have given him plenty to smile about.
Austy Miller 5-5-19, Emma Canan 1-0-3, Rylee Canan 6-0-16, Cassi Mead 2-0-5, Bianca Keener 1-0-2, Abby Gade 1-0-2, Abby Fike 1-0-2. Totals: 17-5-49.
Emma Printz 3-2-9, Meghan Downing 2-3-7, Peyton Bietry 0-0-0, Lissa Siler 10-3-28, Maddie Downing 3-3-9, Andi Bietry 0-2-2, Madison Fourman 0-0-0. Totals: 18-13-55.
Score By Quarters
Bradford 12 24 38 49 49
Tri-Village 12 33 44 49 55
Records: Bradford 18-7, Tri-Village 23-1.