By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — As it became more and more clear in the fourth quarter that his Tippecanoe boys basketball team was going to hold off Troy and retake sole possession of first place in the Miami Valley League Miami Division, the typically-reserved coach Adam Toohey turned towards the visitors’ stands and raised his arms in the air to rouse the already-raucous Tippecanoe fans.
He can’t be blamed for his excitement, really. After four tough losses to the Trojans in his two years as the Devils’ coach — including two heartbreakers on at Troy — his team finally put one away.
Tippecanoe (9-6, 8-3 MVL Miami) hit clutch shots, kept Troy (9-5, 7-4 MVL Miami) from getting too hot, kept the Trojans off the glass and hit its free throws throughout the night to wrap up a 67-56 victory Tuesday night at the Trojan Activities Center, taking back first place in the division and snapping a five-game losing streak to the Trojans in the process.
“Very excited, and super proud,” Toohey said when asked how he felt after the game. “And how great was our crowd? Our student section was huge, and I thought that was a big lift for our guys.
“I’m just very, very proud of our effort and how we stuck together.”
And in the end, it took everyone contributing for the Devils to put it away.
Ben Knostman led a group of four Devils in double digits with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Gavin Garlitz hit four of Tippecanoe’s 10 3-pointers on the night and scored 14 points, Griffin Caldwell hit three 3s and added 13 points and six rebounds and Zach Frederick chipped in 12 points.
Thomas Skaggs came off the bench to add five points and four rebounds, Cole Coppock added four points, Nick Robbins hit a clutch 3 and finished with three points and Nolan Mader had one point and four rebounds.
“Our bench played friggin’ amazing: Thomas Skaggs, Cole Coppock, Nick Robbins. And Griffin Caldwell and Gavin Garlitz, those guys all played amazing,” Toohey said. “It wasn’t just Knostman and Frederick and Mader tonight. It was the other guys that got us going.”
And the Devils stayed steady the whole game, too, leading at every quarter break despite there being six ties and six lead changes throughout the game. Tippecanoe led 16-15, after one, 28-26 at halftime and 46-40 after three before putting it away down the stretch.
“The best we’ve played was the first half against Sidney, but this was our best whole game,” Toohey said. “And you can have good quarters or good halves, but we want to win four quarters.”
Troy, meanwhile, had its chance to take complete control in the second quarter, using a 9-0 run to capture the momentum and take a 26-19 lead — and Elijah Reynolds made a diving play at mid-court to knock a steal over to a teammate, threatening to put the game away for good. But the Trojans missed a pair of free throws, and Tippecanoe was able to close the half on a 9-0 run of its own, capped off by a 3 by Robbins to make the score 28-26 Devils.
“There in the second quarter, we made a run, and we had a couple opportunities where we just couldn’t convert,” Troy coach Mark Hess said. “We missed two free throws, then we missed a layup. If we just convert, we’re going to be okay, but we didn’t and they were able to get some momentum, and that was a big shift.”
Troy wasn’t out of the game, though. Austin Stanaford hit three third-quarter 3s to help Troy close to within 42-40 late before a clutch 3 by Caldwell helped extend the lead going into the fourth. Then Jaden Owens scored 16 points in the fourth, getting started to help tie the score at 48-48 early. But another 3 by Caldwell gave the lead back to the Devils, and a series of defensive stops led to Tippecanoe taking a 62-48 lead that put the game out of reach.
“It was back and forth, and we tied it in the fourth, but when push came to shove, Tipp made big shots when they needed to,” Hess said. “Our defense wasn’t as disciplined as I would’ve liked, but give credit to their kids, especially their role-players. They hit big shots.
“We play with a lot of emotion, and we feed off of that. When we’re good, we’re very good. But when we’re not very good, we have to be better during those times. Sometimes when we go through lulls offensively, we force shots, shoot too early, and the best way to kill a team’s momentum is to make them guard.”
After scoring only two in the first three quarters, Owens led Troy with 18 points and four steals, hitting four of the team’s 11 3s on the night. Olden added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, Tre Archie had 10 points and five assists, Stanaford had nine points and Reynolds had seven points.
In the end, Tippecanoe outrebounded Troy 28-23 in the game and was 15 for 18 from the free throw line — including 10 for 13 in the second half — while Troy was 2 for 6 from the line in the game and did not attempt a free throw in the second half.
The two teams will meet again on Feb. 7 at Tippecanoe, but next up for Troy is a road game at Xenia on Friday.
“There’s definitely little things we can take from this to improve,” Hess said. “We’ll get another shot at them, and it wasn’t major things tonight, but we’ve got some things to work on before next time.”
Tippecanoe, meanwhile, will look to build on back-to-back wins Friday at Piqua.
“I’m so thrilled,” Toohey said. “We’ve got so much respect for them (Troy), and they are very, very good. I’m just pumped.”
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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