By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — In the week since its emotional overtime loss to rival Piqua, the Troy girls basketball team has turned those negative feelings into fuel.
“That was the first time I’d seen them upset, and they were bothered, and they were hurt,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said of the loss. “And those next couple days of practice, there was a totally different intensity level — and that’s carried forward.”
And that was especially evident Wednesday night against West Carrollton in Miami Valley League crossover play, as the Trojans posted their largest winning margin of the season, routing the Pirates 48-25 at the Trojan Activities Center for their second straight win and third in their last four games.
With the win, Troy got back to the .500 mark at 7-7 overall and is now 6-5 in the MVL Miami Division, while West Carrollton — which Troy only defeated by 11 in the first meeting between the teams, 53-42 back on Dec. 9, 2019 — fell to 1-13 and 1-10 in the MVL Valley.
And even though Troy’s defensive pressure — which forced eight first-quarter turnovers, 15 total in the first half and 22 on the night — kept the Pirates from getting into a rhythm all night, it was the Trojans’ execution on the offensive end that Johnson was most pleased to see.
“We’ve been working on the press, and we wanted to press tonight,” Johnson said. “But I don’t know that the press did it as much as our execution early. We pounded the ball inside and hit some outside shots.”
And even though Tia Bass and Macie Taylor, two of the MVL’s top six leading scorers, both led the way in double figures, the rest of the Trojans finally found ways to contribute, too.
Laura Borchers hit a pair of first-quarter 3-pointers and Elise McCann sank one to help stake the Trojans out to a 15-5 lead after one, and then Bass hammered the ball inside and Taylor slashed her way to the hoop, both for seven first-half points to push the lead to 31-9 at the break.
By the end of the night, eight different Trojan players knocked down shots and found their way into the scorebook — a season high.
“I think this was one of the first times we’ve really had balanced scoring,” Johnson said. “You combine a little pressure, executing our offense, hitting some shots — finally — and it not just being two people scoring, and that’s been the goal. That’s what we’ve been striving for.
“Piqua, we saw some execution. The game before that against Greenville, in the fourth quarter, I saw some incredible execution. And tonight, over the four quarters, I saw more consistency as far as execution is concerned.”
West Carrollton’s Ashiya Sales was able to get going in the second half, scoring 14 of her game-high 18 points, but the Trojans still outscored the Pirates 17-16 to put the game away.
Bass finished with her seventh double-double of the year and her third straight with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Taylor added 11 points to lead the Trojans. Borchers had eight points, four rebounds and three assists, Brynn Siler had six points and four rebounds, McCann added five points and Jovie Studebaker, Lily James and Caitlyn Hutson each had two.
Sales had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Pirates, Trinity Crum had five points and Megann Bertke had two points and nine rebounds as the Pirates outrebounded Troy 38-36 but turned the ball over 22 times while only forcing 15.
“There’s still a lot of things we need to clean up, but this three-game stretch has been really, really good,” Johnson said. “And now we’re looking at four games. We have to go back tomorrow and do some more work. But I love the fact that, as the season progresses, we’re getting better and playing together better.
“The key now is going to be what we do tomorrow. Yes, we won today, and we executed the gameplan. Now, do we just say ‘we’re good,’ or do we come back tomorrow and work our tails off? That’s what the next phase is.”
Next up for Troy is another MVL crossover game Saturday at home against Xenia, which the Trojans defeated 57-44 earlier this season.
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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