By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — Long possessions leading to ill-advised shots or careless turnovers. Longer possessions on the defensive end eventually leading to quality shots. And in the end, a 16-point lead chipped all the way down to nothing.
The Troy boys basketball team learned a valuable lesson at the hands of Springfield Shawnee in its final game of the calendar year: slow and steady still can win the race.
Springfield Shawnee’s Isaac Siemon scored 12 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter Friday night as the Braves made every possession in the final eight minutes count, turning what had been a 10-point Trojan lead after three into a 49-46 victory over Troy at the Trojan Activities Center.
“For us, and it’s a common thing in high school basketball this day and age, it’s about being patient and waiting for a great shot or a good shot,” Troy coach Mark Hess said. “Sometimes we get impatient and try to force things.”
And while Troy is still off to its best start in years, Friday night’s disappointing loss will continue to sting into the new year.
The Trojans fell to 6-3 on the season, missing their chance to be 7-2 for the first time since the 2011-12 season. The Braves, meanwhile, improved to 4-2.
“We’ve had a few wins this year where we got fortunate,” Hess said. “We made some plays and won some games where we kind of got lucky. And that kind of caught up with us tonight.
“I didn’t think we played together as a team very well tonight. And I told them after Monday’s game (a 68-60 win over Middletown), if we’re not focused on each other when adversity hits, it’s going to hit hard and we’re going to learn a tough lesson — and tonight was that tough lesson.”
Still, the Trojans found themselves with the advantage the majority of the night.
After taking an 8-7 lead after a back-and-forth first quarter, back-to-back 3-pointers by Landyn Henry and Ryan Davis gave Troy a 16-9 lead midway through the second. The Braves got it down to three at one point, but eventually the Trojans held a 22-14 lead at halftime despite committing 10 turnovers thanks to Shawnee’s bog-the-game-down approach to defense.
“We talk about getting the ball to the third or fourth side of the floor, but we don’t always do that,” Hess said. “We try to make a play individually where the defense is set, and it’s tough to do that. We want to get them moving a little bit, we want to throw more skip passes and attack close-outs, and we just didn’t do enough of that tonight.”
Troy managed to build a lead as big as 14 points in the third quarter, though, at 33-17 after a steal-and-layup by Tre Archie and a putback by Elijah Reynolds capped off a 9-0 run. The Braves answered with an 8-0 run of their own to stay in the game, though, and the Trojans led 37-27 heading into the fourth.
From there, the lead dwindled to three at 39-36 with 4:20 to play, but a pair of free throws by Shaeden Olden — only the second and third attempts from the line for Troy in the game — kept the Trojans up by two possessions. But Shawnee remained patient, chipping away and nipping at Troy’s heels throughout the fourth until a layup by Siemon on a back-door cut gave the Braves a 44-43 with 2:10 to play, and a turnover on the offensive end led to another Siemon bucket to make it a three-point game.
“We weren’t moving enough,” Hess said. “But give them (Shawnee) credit. They’re a very good defensive team, and they play a style we struggle with. They’re packing gaps, making you throw a skip pass and be patient. And we just weren’t patient enough and forced a lot of things that weren’t there.”
Troy tied the score at 46-46 with 1:05 to play on another 3 by Henry, but a free throw by Drew Mitch and a pair of free throws by Siemon put the Trojans down three with 19.4 to play. Troy was able to get a contested look at a 3 in the closing seconds, but it was off the mark.
Siemon scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half and was 6 for 7 from the free throw line, with the Braves going 11 for 18 on the night compared to Troy’s 2 for 3. Zion Crowe and Connor Lyons each added seven points, Mitch had five points and six rebounds, Patrick Fultz had four points and five rebounds and Mason Griffith had two points as Shawnee won the rebounding battle 24-22 and the turnover battle 19-18.
Olden led the Trojans with 13 points and two blocked shots, Archie had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, Henry scored eight points, Austin Stanaford had four points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots, Reynolds had four points, Davis had three and Jaden Owens — who scored 32 points in Troy’s win on Monday — was held to only two.
Now Troy is off until Jan. 7, 2020, when it hosts 7-1 Stebbins in a big Miami Valley League crossover matchup.
“We have 10 days,” Hess said. “And I’ll be honest, we’ve played nine games now, we’re almost at the midway point, so we know what we have, where we’re at. And we’ll have six or seven practices before our next game, so we can figure out everyone’s role and how they can help us.
“We have to be focused on us and each player’s part in being part of ‘us.’ I think we’re still trying to learn that — but we finally have some time to practice and fine tune some things. Because after tonight, there’s some things we can get better at.”
Contact Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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