By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — Heated. Intense. Bitter. There are plenty of ways to describe the Troy-Piqua rivalry.
Friday night was an example of a different way — unpredictable.
Piqua freshman Dresean Roberts scored 11 of his 15 points in the third quarter to give the Indians control, Troy couldn’t finish on three fast break attempts in the final two minutes while trailing by as few as four points and then the Trojans lost their cool in the final minute, committing a pair of technical fouls to allow the Piqua boys basketball team to seal a shocking 51-38 victory on Troy’s Senior Night Friday at the Trojan Activities Center.
The Indians, which lost to Troy 60-47 earlier in the season and had just snapped a three-game losing streak by holding on for a narrow victory over a one-win Fairborn team earlier in the week, got their signature win of the year, finishing the regular season 9-13 overall and 7-11 in Miami Valley League Miami Division play. It was also Piqua’s first win on Troy’s home floor since the 2017-18 season.
“I’m very proud of the way our team played,” Piqua coach Steve Grasso said. “We focused all this week on playing solid man-to-man defense and sharing the ball and passing up good shots for great shots, and we did all those things tonight.”
Troy — which entered the night riding a three-game winning streak that included victories over outright division champion Tippecanoe and a quality Stebbins team, all while enjoying its best record since the 2011-12 season — closed out the regular season with a thud at 13-9 overall and 10-8 in the MVL Miami.
“Tip your hat to them. They pursued 50-50 balls better than we did, and at the end they were missing shots but getting offensive rebounds. They seemed to want it more than us,” Troy coach Mark Hess said.”And that was frustrating.”
And it seemed a cruel trick of fate to have the two bitter rivals meet on Valentine’s Day — particularly the way the final four minutes played out.
With Piqua’s lead cut to four at 42-38 with four minutes left in the game, the Indians tried to take the air out of the ball and shorten the game. Still, Troy three steals and chances at fast-break layups over the next three minutes — but each time, Troy just couldn’t finish, and the score remained the same with 54 seconds on the clock.
“We had it. For as poorly as we played, we were down four and had a chance at a transition bucket, had a chance to put us down one possession with about 1:30 to go. And we just didn’t convert,” Hess said.
Piqua then broke the full-court pressure, with Devon Sever being fouled as he passed to Garrett Schrubb for a layup. After a brief discussion, the bucket counted and Sever got to shoot a one-and-one. He missed the front end, though, and the rebound was tipped out to mid-court, where Troy’s Austin Stanaford went to the floor for it and was fouled. But that kicked off a scuffle for the ball, too, one that resulted in a technical foul on Troy. Kameron Darner hit one of the free throws, and Piqua led 45-38 with 43 seconds to play.
Schrubb and Darner each grabbed rebounds and hit a free throw on Troy misses to put the Indians up 47-38 with 15.9 seconds left, and then a technical was called on Troy’s bench after that, with Owen Curtis sinking both free throws to effectively seal the win. Roberts then added two more free throws in the final five seconds to close it out.
“It was an emotional night,” Hess said. “Obviously, on Senior Night and playing your rival, a lot of emotions going into it, and I think we let the emotions of the event get the best of us. And it cost us tonight,” Hess said.
“We talked about that a lot, as well — in a rivalry game, generally the team that is the most composed comes out on top,” Grasso said. “We had a gameplan that was executed to perfection, and we kept our heads in the right place and came out on top.”
In the end, Piqua was 14 for 25 from the free throw line — including 7 for 12 in the final quarter — while Troy was 10 for 13 in the game.
And while losing their cool cost the Trojans at the end, the way the game started didn’t help.
Troy committed eight first-quarter turnovers and only took five shots in the first quarter, still somehow holding a 7-5 lead at the end of it. But Piqua took an 18-16 lead by halftime, and then Roberts had a big third quarter — including hitting two of the Indians’ three 3-pointers and scoring 11 points in the third — to put Piqua up 38-30 after three.
“He had a big third, for sure,” Grasso said of Roberts. “That’s something we’ve been looking for from him. And as a freshman, that’s a bright spot for the future, too. It’s really exciting.”
“We had some good looks we didn’t knock down, and I thought we attacked the basket pretty well,” Hess said. “We drew some contact on some drives that didn’t get called. And to start the game, we just didn’t run our offense the way we want. In the first quarter, we had five shot attempts and eight turnovers — and it’s so frustrating because it’s not what we do in practice. We feel good about it, we come out here and then we don’t do what we wanted to do.”
Schrubb finished with 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Indians, Roberts added 15 points and Darner had eight points, six rebounds and four assists. Riley Hill added three points, Keagan Patton, Sever and Curtis each had two and Jerell Lewis had one.
Shaeden Olden led Troy with 18 points — 14 of them in the second half — and 15 rebounds. Elijah Reynolds added five points, Stanaford had four points and four rebounds, Tre Archie had three points and three assists and Brayden Siler, Jaden Owens, Landyn Henry and Andrew Holley each had two points for Troy, which honored its six seniors on the night: Stanaford, Siler, Archie, Tucker Raskay, Ryan Davis and Reynolds.
The last time the two teams met on Valentine’s Day was Feb. 14, 2014 at Piqua — also an Indian win, 55-44.
Piqua will look to carry some momentum into its first-round game in the Division I sectional tournament, where it will face West Carrollton — which already owns two victories over the Indians this year — Feb. 22 at Butler High School.
“We’ve gone through some things as a team. We’ve had some ups and downs, and we’ve grown,” Grasso said. “This is definitely a great stepping stone as we head towards tournament time.”
Troy, meanwhile, has the next week to get things back under control before taking on Carroll in the opening round Feb. 22 at Centerville.
“Hopefully this becomes a focal point for us,” Hess said. “If we try to our own thing, we’re average. If we play together and do what we’re trying work on, we’re a lot better than that. If we come in and aren’t following the gameplan on Saturday against Carroll, it’s probably not going to be a good outcome for us. But if we continue to buy in to what we’re trying to do, then we have a chance. But we need everybody on the same page, everyone committed to the same goal, and we’ve got to have some discipline. And that’s the only way we’re going to be able to make it through the tournament.”
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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