Troy Christian boys basketball seniors leave impressive legacy after loss to Russia in D-IV regional final


KETTERING — It was an emotional night for Troy Christian boys basketball coach Ray Zawadzki at Trent Arena.

And as difficult as it was to realize it was his final game coaching his impressive senior class after a 56-35 loss to Russia in the D-IV regional final — the journey was a memorable one no one will soon forget.

The seniors, including starters Christian Brusman, Alex Free, Ethan Grise, Parker Penrod and Frank Rupnik, along with Josiah Myers, Matthew Wynne and Vaughn King (who was injured this season0 left a legacy behind that will not soon be topped,

Penrod and Free were starters from their freshman seasons on and during that time the Eagles picked up 80 wins against just 22 losses.

In the three years of the TRC’s existence, Troy Christian shared the conference title twice, before winning it outright this season.

And over the last two seasons, the Eagles went 48-7 with four of those losses coming to Russia — who advances for the Final Four for the second straight year.

Troy Christian advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year and owns a road win over Ottawa Glandorf — who advanced to the D-III Final Four Saturday with a win in the regional final.

“This is a really talented senior class,” Zawadzki said. “About the only senior class that has accomplished more than them around here is Russia.”

And while Russia proved to be Troy Christian’s kryptonite — they can get in a long line of teams with that claim.

While Troy Christian closed the season at 25-3, Russia improved to 27-1.

And while it started well for the Eagles Friday night, with Rupnik and Penrod scoring on the first two possessions to give Troy Christian a 4-2 lead, it wouldn’t last long.

The Raiders would score the next 17 points to go up 19-4 and the Eagles were never able to recover.

“Give Russia all the credit,” Zawadzki said. “Four of our seven losses the last two seasons have come to Russia. They did it all tonight. They turned us over, they outshot us, they outrebounded us.”

The Eagles found themselves down 32-11 at halftime, before playing Russia even in the second half.

And while Russia was patient with the lead, the Eagles played with the same intensity they played with from the start of the game to the final buzzer, regardless of the score.

Which is the same thing they have put on display during an impressive four seasons for the seniors.

And they play of Penrod in particular, was nothing short of amazing Friday night.

While the 5-11 guard was surrounded by 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4 defenders the entire night, he refused to be denied.

He would hit five 0f 10 shots from the floor, 3 of six from long range and make all eight of his free throw attempts in scoring 20 points — while picking up three assists on the other six Troy Christian field goals.

“Parker Penrod showed tonight why he is a college basketball player,” Zawadzki said.

Sophomore Brennan Hochwalt put his bright future on display, scoring 11 points in the second half on four of five shooting from the floor and hitting three of four shots from long range.

Rupnik and Free added two points each.

But, Russia’s talent and depth was too much to overcome.

Benjamin York had 19 points to lead the Raiders, while Vince Borchers added 11 points.

Brayden Monnin and Felix Francis scored seven points each, Hayden Quinter had six points, five rebounds and seven assists and Braylon Cordonnier added six points.

Troy Christian was 11 of 27 from the floor for 41 percent, including five of 12 on 3-pointers for 42 percent. The Eagles made eight of 10 free throws for 80 percent.

Russia was 22 of 39 from the floor for 56 percent, including five of 13 from long range for 39 percent. The Raiders converted seven of eight free throws for 88 percent.

Russia won the battle of the boards 23-11 and had 10 turnovers to Troy Christian’s 15.

“It will be a long time before we have a class like this senior class,” Zawadzki said.

Which is why it was so emotional to realize it would be his last game with a front row to seat to watch all they had accomplished.

Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]

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