PIQUA — MVL Champions.
The Troy boys basketball team liked the sound of that — and after a hard fought 62-54 victory over Piqua at Garbry Gymnasium Friday night — the Trojans got the good news on the bus ride back to Troy that Butler had knocked off Tippecanoe in overtime, giving Troy the outright title.
It was the Trojans first in boys basketball since 2012 and on return to the high school, they cut down the nets in celebration.
“This is a credit to these kids,” Troy coach Mark Hess said. “They have worked so hard for this and deserve it. This is the hardest working team I have had. And I am not just talking about during the summer. They put the time and work in the during the summer — coming into a hot gym with no air conditioning.”
Troy finished the regular season 18-4 and 17-1 in the MVL, while Piqua closed the regular season at 16-6 and 12-6 in the MVL.
Piqua will open Centerville D-I sectional play at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 18 against Springboro. Troy will open Centerville D-I sectional play at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 20 against the Miamisburg-Stebbins winner.
But, the Indians — who had lost to Troy 64-38 in the first meeting — proved a point, battling the Trojans to the end.
“That first game was probably a turning point in our season,” Piqua coach Brett Kopp said. “The coaches weren’t happy after that game. We are not happy tonight. I get it (how tough it is losing to Troy), but that is a really talented team.”
For the Troy players, it was all the hard work paying off.
“This is something I have wanted since I was a freshman,” Isaac Phillips said. “It feels great.”
Nick Prince agreed.
“This is amazing,” he said. “This is what we worked for. This why we put all the time in.”
And while Piqua had its moments Friday night, Troy always had an answer.
Piqua would jump out to an 8-2 lead — only to see Troy score the next nine points.
The game was tied 15-15 after one quarter and Troy led 26-23 at halftime.
Two straight Colten Beougher baskets gave Piqua a 33-31 lead with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter.
But, Prince would answer immediately with a three off a Noah Davis kick out and we could cap a 10-point run with a three to open the fourth quarter and make it 41-31 off an assist from Isaac Phillips.
“Nick (Prince) hit some big shots for us tonight,” Hess said. “He is a guy who takes more shots (in the summer) than anybody and it pays off.”
Phillips was his usual unstoppable self on inbound lobs into the paint from under the basket.
“That is something I worked hard on in the summer,” Phillips said.
The other key was the number of points Troy scored on runouts in transition.
“Our transition defense wasn’t good,” Kopp said. “And they are very good at that and we just couldn’t get it stopped.”
Hess knew all those things would be key.
“Give Piqua credit,” Hess said. “Brett Kopp does a great job. We knew he would scheme some things up that would make it tough on us. We use that inbounds (to Isaac Phillips) a lot. With his leaping ability, he is tough to stop. Anson Cox is a really tough matchup for Isaac. But, he did a great job. He never backs off.”
Phillips had 20 points for Troy and Prince added 16 points and four assists.
Noah Davis had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, Hollis Terrell had eight points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots and Konyae Foster had eight points, seven rebounds and four assists.
“That last three games have basically been tournament atmosphere,” Hess said. “With so much on the line on every possession. So, it is (great preparation for the tournament.”
Dre’Sean Roberts led all scorers with 24 points for Piqua and added seven points, four assists and three steals.
Ky Warner had 13 points and eight rebounds, Cox had nine points and three assists and Beougher had six points.
Bryson Roberts dished out four assists.
“I know this hurts,” Kopp said. “But, we have to come in and look at the films and get better. We can’t let a loss to Troy turn into a loss to Springboro.”
Troy was 23 of 46 from the floor for 50 percent, including three of 12 on 3-pointers for 50 percent. The Trojans made 12 of 21 from the line for 57 percent.
Piqua was 22 of 52 from the floor for 42 percent, including two of 13 from long range for 15 percent. The Indians converted eight of 13 from the line for 62 percent.
Both teams had 29 rebounds and Troy had five turnovers and Piqua had six turnovers.
And both teams will look for tournament success — after Troy left Garbry Gymnasium with a hard-fought win and the MVL title.
Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]