Troy Christian knocks off state’s No. 1 team

03/17/2013

Following Troy Christian’s stunning 48-43 overtime win over the state’s top-ranked team on Tuesday, coach Ray Zawadzki still considered Tri-Village the best team in the Southwest District. The Eagles were just better on this particular night.

“This is groundbreaking for us,” Zawadzki said of a Troy Christian team that had never made it out of the sectional tournament before this season. “The kids right now, they believe. The coaches believe in each other. When that happens you can get special moments.”

Senior Christian Salazar’s basket gave Troy Christian the lead for good, 41-40, with 2:44 left in overtime. Sophomore Grant Zawadzki scored the Eagles’ final seven points on free throws (missing just one) in front of about 3,500 spectators at Trent Arena. Overall, Troy Christian made 14-of-17 free throws compared to a 10-of-23 effort for Tri-Village.

Tri-Village (26-1) erased a 37-30 deficit in the final 1:42 to force overtime. Senior Kyle Pipenger scored seven straight for a game-high 24 and junior Tyler Cook (13 points) capped the comeback with a tough inside basket with 15 seconds left.

A Pipenger free throw gave the Patriots a 40-39 lead to start overtime. But Tri-Village, which beat Troy Christian 56-40 on Jan. 8, struggled after missing all five of their shots and four free throws.

Troy Christian (25-2) plays Delphos St. John’s (20-5) in the D-IV regional final 7:30 p.m. Friday at Trent Arena. The Eagles are vying for their first trip to state against a team that’s been there 11 times, the last in 2002.