TROY, Ohio — Tri-County North was outscored, outrebounded and outplayed from three-point range in the Panthers’ 79-49 loss to Catholic Central on Saturday, Feb. 20.
North fell behind quickly in the opening round of the Division IV Sectional/District Tournament, trailing 17-2 as the first quarter winded down.
Senior Ethan Rike hit two free throws and senior Braeden Rike hit a basket to later make it 19-7, but the Irish banked in a three-point buzzer beater as time expired to make it 22-7.
“We came out flat. Had little to no energy to start off the game,” North coach Joe Smith said. “Struggled rebounding. It’s what’s killed us all year. We gave up too many offensive rebounds. Didn’t really turn the ball over a lot, we just – first we didn’t shoot the ball well and didn’t rebound.”
Catholic Central continued raining down from three-point range, hitting five shots from beyond the arc in the first half. Additionally, the Irish connected on 10-of-14 free throws in the first half. They would finish 15-of-20 from the key, compared to just 10-of-16 for North.
The Irish would eventually outscore the Panthers 23-11 in the second to make it 45-18 at the half.
After Catholic Central increased its lead in the third, the OHSAA’s running clock was briefly enacted early in the fourth quarter once the deficit reached 35 or more points at 69-32.
Soon after, an eight-point run by the Panthers to make it 69-40 dropped the deficit below 30 points, resuming normal timing.
Despite the deficit, North continuing to fight, scoring nine more points in the quarter to make the final 79-49.
The Irish finished with 10 3-pointers, compared to just three by North as the Panthers struggled shooting.
“We got kind of the shots we wanted. They weren’t falling,” Smith said. “I know there are nights that they’re gonna have that, and then unfortunately, it was tonight during the tournament.”
Senior Dylan Stinson led the Panthers with 19 points, followed by senior Ethan Rike with 14 and senior Wyatt Royer with 11. Senior Braeden Rike connected on a 3-pointer and senior Cooper Cole added a bucket as well.
With a late basket, Stinson broke Tri-County North’s all-time scoring record with 1,253 career points, eclipsing the previous record of 1,252 held by 1969 graduate Larry Bunger.
“It’s a great thing to see. He’s put his time and he’s given a ton of effort,” Smith said. “He played his senior year on one leg, pretty much. For him to get in the last game is great. I’m glad that I got to coach him for four years and got to see it.”
Smith described North’s 5-17 season as “disappointing” given the numbers of seniors, saying the Panthers struggled putting it all together.
“We played pretty well this past month,” he admitted. “We were on three-game winning streak coming into the tournament. Felt like we had pretty good practices this week. The thing that’s hindered us the most all season is rebounding. Rebounding is effort, and sometimes when your effort’s not there, rebounding looks awful. The game will look awful.”
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles