NEW CARLISLE — It didn’t end the way Troy girls basketball first-year coach Jeremy Hughes had hoped.
But, he couldn’t have asked any more from his team and the Trojans future couldn’t be much brighter.
Troy closed the season at 14-8 with a 51-43 loss to Vandalia-Butler in Troy D-I sectional action at Tecumseh High School Saturday night.
“Being a first-year coach, having all the girls buy in and do everything I asked them to do,” Hughes said.
And while things didn’t go their way Saturday night, they battled to the very end, turning a double-digit lead into just a six-point deficit in the final minute before the Trojans simply ran out of time.
“We were down 10 and it could have become 20,” Hughes said. “The girls never let that happen. Absolutely (they played with tremendous heart to the very end).”
There are no secrets between the Trojans and Aviators, who improved to 17-6.
They had met three times during the regular season with Troy winning twice.
The Trojans came in as the eight seed, Butler as the ninth seed.
And Troy couldn’t have been more prepared.
“I probably watched the last five games they (Butler) had played,” Hughes said. “I knew at some points, we were probably going to see a zone. You can have the greatest game plan, but if the shots aren’t dropping it isn’t going to matter.”
It didn’t start out that way.
With Morgan Kaiser hitting all three of her first quarter field goal attempts and Troy hitting six of eight shots, the Trojans led 14-11.
But, from the second quarter on, the shooting was a struggle.
Troy made just one of eight field goal attempts in the second quarter — a 3-pointer by Macie Taylor — and missed all three of its free throw attempts.
That put Troy in a 22-17 hole at the break.
The Trojans never regained the lead.
Makenzee Maschino had a basket to close the third quarter to get Troy within 33-27.
Taylor hit three of four free throws early in the fourth quarter to make it a 33-30 game with 6:52 to go.
But, that was as close as Troy could get.
Sami Bardonaro answered with a 3-pointer and Butler built the lead back up to 10 points — and Taylor went down with an ankle injury late in the game.
But, Troy wouldn’t go away.
When, Brynn Siler had a 3-point play with 29.4 seconds to go, the Trojans were within 48-43, before Butler scored the final three points of the game.
Taylor paced Troy with 21 points and had three steals.
Jovie Studebaker had six points and five rebounds and Kaiser added six points, while Siler pulled down six rebounds.
Bardonaro led Butler with 21 points.
Emily Ledbetter had nine points and five rebounds and Evan Neely had six points and seven rebounds before going down with an injury in the third quarter.
Troy was just 15 of 43 from the floor for 35 percent and 12 of 21 from the line for 57 percent.
Butler was 13 of 36 from the floor for 36 percent and 19 of 31 from the line for 61 percent.
Butler won the battle of the boards 32-21, but had 16 turnovers to Troy’s 14.
Now, Troy heads into the off-season with a bright future.
“We are only losing one senior (Gwenn Metz),” Hughes said. “As hard as these girls work, the league should be ours the next couple years.”
After having a solid first season under Hughes end on a night when the shots wouldn’t fall.