By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — The Troy boys basketball team’s last loss to Springfield Shawnee back on Dec. 27, 2019, was disappointing because it wasn’t one of the team’s better efforts.
The Trojans’ loss to Stebbins on Tuesday was disappointing because of how much effort and fight the team put in, only to come up short.
“These one-point games are the toughest ones to coach,” Troy coach Mark Hess said. “When you sit back and watch the tape, there’s so many one possessions that maybe we didn’t value enough offensively or defensively, that could have helped us out.”
In the end, though, the Trojans had a pair of shots in the final 10 seconds with a chance to win the game, but both were off the mark and Stebbins was able to hold on for a 63-62 Miami Valley League crossover victory over Troy Tuesday night at the Trojan Activities Center.
Troy drew up an in-bounds play under its own basket with 16.8 seconds remaining and only trailing by one. After a missed shot in the lane and a missed putback attempt on the offensive rebound, though, Stebbins’ Bradyn Pennington came away with a rebound and was fouled with 2.9 seconds on the clock. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the Trojans’ desperation heave came up well short.
“We just didn’t execute,” Hess said. “We didn’t run the right out-of-bounds play, the play that we’d talked about during the timeout. We ran the wrong play. And throughout the game, we didn’t run our press break like we’d worked on. We tried to do our own things, and that leads to us turning the ball over and them getting easy buckets.
“The kids battled. They played hard. I’m not disappointed in the fight we gave. We’ve just got to be a little more focused in crunch time. That’s what we’ve got to do, we didn’t do it tonight, and it really hurts.”
The loss was the second straight for Troy (6-4, 4-3 MVL Miami Division) when it had a chance to tie or take the lead with a shot in the closing seconds — Springfield Shawnee held the Trojans off 49-46 in their last outing 11 days ago. Stebbins (9-1, 7-1 MVL Valley Division), meanwhile, won its seventh straight.
“They’re a good team. They’re really solid,” Hess said. “Their guys play together, they move the ball well, they do a good job of driving behind the second cutter — it’s not the first guy. If you stop him, it’s the second or third guy. And I didn’t think we were overly disciplined guarding the basketball. I thought we let guys get around the corner a little bit, and they were able to finish if it was uncontested. If we were able to get over and contest it, though, they struggled.”
The entire night was a battle, though, with five ties and nine lead changes throughout and the Indians holding the largest lead of the night at six points at 47-41 in the middle of the third. That came after Troy had trailed by five late in the first half, closed the gap to one at 34-33 at the break — and then took a three-point lead early in the third after a Jaden Owens layup finished off an 8-0 run and put the Trojans up 37-34.
Stebbins answered with an 8-0 run of its own, though, converting three steals into transition layups to go up 42-37. The Indians maintained a four-point lead after three at 53-49, and the gap never grew past four points the rest of the way.
“There in the third quarter, we made a nice run to get the lead,” Hess said. “Then we kind of lost some composure against their press because we’re not running what we’re supposed to run, we turn it over and they get a little run — and it becomes a dog fight.”
Stebbins led 61-57 with 2:39 to play, but a technical foul allowed Tre Archie to hit a pair of free throws to trim into the lead, and a free throw by Owens got Troy to within one at 61-60 with 2:01 remaining. Pennington sank a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game again, then a steal by Shaeden Olden led to two more free throws by Archie to get Troy to within 63-62 with a minute to play.
Elijah Reynolds then drew a charge on Stebbins’ Jalen Tolbert — the MVL’s leading scorer — with less than a minute to play. From there, a series of timeouts set up the final in-bounds play — and Troy’s final missed chances — in the game’s closing seconds.
Owens led all scorers with 22 points and three assists for Troy, Olden added 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and Archie had 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Charlie Walker and Austin Stanaford each had five points, Reynolds and Andrew Holley each had two points and Hollis Terrell had one point.
Jake Reed led the Indians with 15 points and five rebounds, Tolbert had 14 points and Nate Keller had 11 points. Pennington added eight points and seven rebounds and Marcus Watson had six points and four rebounds — helping Stebbins outrebound Troy 33-28 on the night — Daniel Bowman had six points, Kelby Cox had two points and Ryan Hickey had one point.
Troy will look to snap its skid against one of its oldest rivals Friday night, traveling to Piqua.
“We were ready to go today and the guys were fired up. And our fight is there,” Hess said. “That’s what I want to focus on, is that our fight was there. We were down three and the guys had a chance to win. To be able to do that, learning to win when you’re behind, is important. Now we just have to execute down the stretch so we’re all on the same page.”
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
©2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.