DAYTON — The magical tournament run for Tim Cogan’s Carroll Patriots nearly continued, but a second-half rally by the favored Cincinnati Taft Senators stopped the underdogs’ run.
Taft 22-4) used its size and experience to claim a come-from-behind 52-40 win, Wednesday March 8 at UD Arena.
“Everybody at this level can play. That’s why everybody’s here,” Taft coach Demarco Bradley said. “We just had to settle down and play our game. At this time of the year, you’re not gonna get too many blowouts. You just gotta settle down and play your game, and that’s what we did. I thought our guys decided to play defense like Taft teams play, after that first quarter.”
Carroll (12-13) wasn’t intimidated by the perennial powerhouse Taft Senators. The Patriots rolled out to a 19-4 first-quarter lead on threes by Joe and Matt Cogan, and T.K. Robinson, while Eli Ramsey scored all nine of his first-half points in the quarter. Carroll led 22-13 after eight minutes of play.
In the second quarter, however, those same shots that seemed to fall with ease for the Pats in the first were now rimming out. Taft outscored Carroll, 8-3 in the second quarter to close to within four points, 25-21, at the break.
The Senators outscored Carroll 39-18 for the rest of the game.
“We wanted to come out, be ready to go and play hard those first three minutes, and I thought we did that,” Cogan said. “Taft is a very well-organized machine. As the game wore on, there was a couple possessions in that fourth quarter where we didn’t answer and they did. That just kinda changed the momentum right there.
“We missed some key free throws, and you just can’t do that against a great team like Taft.”
Taft didn’t get its first lead until there were 94 seconds left in the third period, but they never trailed again.
Eli Ramsey led the Pats with 12 points scored, while T.K. Robinson finished with eight points. But when Bradley took an assistant coach’s advice and shifted his taller Senators into a 3-2 zone defense, it made shooting over them more difficult, and rebounding even tougher.
Taft out-rebounded Carroll, 40-28, for the game. Six-foot-7 Virgil Lackey recorded five blocked shots, and 6-6 Malek Green snagged a game-high dozen rebounds. And while they were dominating inside, Ezyontae Brazzle was keeping the Carroll defense honest by drilling five 3-pointers as part of a game-high 19-point effort.
Despite the loss, Cogan was proud of the Patriots’ tournament run. Carroll, a No. 10 seed, defeated Dayton Meadowdale on a buzzer beater rebound, upset Greater Catholic League Co-Ed champ Kettering Alter, and then knocked off sixth seeded Dayton Ponitz, before falling in the district title game to the Senators.
“We had a frustrating season at times, but our kids never stopped believing in my words and what we were doing. And good for them and the memories they created in this tournament run … to beat Alter, you know. It’s an amazing run for these kids and I’m proud of them,” Cogan said.
“We just had faith in each other. We loved each other, and we wanted to do it for each other,” Ramsey said of the Pats’ tournament run.
Cogan said he’ll miss seniors Stevens, Joe Cogan, Jack Seltsam and Thomas McVicar.
“They’re a class act. They’re great leaders, great role models for our younger kids, so it is difficult to lose them in that sense,” Cogan said. “We just try to tell our younger kids to be a mirror image of those guys, and strive to be even better.”
Taft will face Trotwood-Madison at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 16 in the regional semifinals, at Kettering’s Trent Arena.