TROY — Slow starts are noting new for the Troy boys basketball team.
But, this time, the Trojans could overcome it.
The Trojans rallied from a 15-point deficit in the middle of the third quarter to get within one, before losing 46-41 to Vandalia-Butler Tuesday in MVL action at the Trojan Activity Center.
Troy is 3-1 overall and in the MVL, while Butler improves to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the MVL.
Troy will be back in action Friday, traveling to Sidney.
“We have gotten off to a slow start in every game,” Troy coach Mark Hess said. “I think we have been behind after the first quarter in every game this year. I think we aren’t going to change the way we do things in practice tomorrow (to get away from the slow starts).”
Troy was playing without leading scorer Nick Prince due to illness.
“It is the first game we have played without him,” Hess said. “He is another shooter out there. He is our leading scorer. Some other guys had to take on bigger roles than they are accustomed to.”
Troy trailed 17-7 after one quarter and 25-14 at halftime, despite eight points and five rebounds from Zach King in the opening half.
Butler expanded that lead to 35-20 in the third quarter, before Troy was able to turn things around.
Troy scored the final eight points of the third quarter, capped by a buzzer-beater by Kellen Miller to make it 35-28 going to the final eight minutes.
Two putback and a 3-pointer by Noah Davis helped bring Troy within 39-36 with 4:35 to go.
Charlie Walker added two putbacks and Isaac Phillips hit one of two free throws with 2:28 on the clock to get Troy within 42-41.
“The kids really battled out there,” Hess said. “They played hard. But, we just dug ourselves too deep a hole.”
Troy would not score again as Butler hit four free throws down the stretch to finish off the win.
The Trojans struggled from the line all game.
“We had been shooting them well,” Hess said. “The other thing was box outs (on Butler’s free throws). There were at least three or four times we didn’t get them boxed out and they either scored or got the rebound. It will be interesting when we look at it to see how many points we lost at the foul line.”
Davis had 11 points and six rebounds for Troy and King had eight points and eight rebounds.
Phillips had seven points and five rebounds and Walker scored seven points.
Casey Bennett had 14 points and four steals for Butler and Tristen Vandervort added 11 points and four steals.
Derek Motter added six points.
Troy was 17 of 39 from the floor for 44 percent and five of 12 from the line for 42 percent.
Butler was 16 of 38 from the floor for 42 percent and 12 of 21 from the line for 57 percent.
Troy won the battle of the boards 30-17, but had 17 turnovers to Butler’s nine — with most of them coming in the first half.
Things won’t get any easier for the Trojans.
“This is a brutal stretch for us,” Hess said. “We have Sidney, Tipp, Fairmont and Springboro the next four games. We have eight guys in the program out right now (with illness). It is not a good time to not be healthy. But, we have to go to Sidney and be ready for a battle.”
And hopefully, get off to a better start.