By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
PIQUA — The last time Piqua’s girls basketball team beat rival Troy, none of the current Indians players were even in high school yet — meaning first-year coach Jon Dolph had some convincing to do.
“If you look at my schedule that I have printed off, everything on it says ‘Beat Troy,’” he said. “Any time we had a chance to work on Troy stuff, we’ve done that. We wanted to get it in the girls’ brains that this is real. This isn’t a made-up rivalry.”
Wednesday night, the Indians made it clear that they believe.
Piqua outscored Troy 25-15 in the fourth quarter, forcing 17 second-half turnovers, equaling a season high with eight 3s as a team and hitting 12 of 15 free throws in the fourth to put the game on ice, closing out a 62-54 victory Wednesday at Garbry Gymnasium — the Indians’ first win over the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division rival Trojans since the 2014-15 season.
Troy led 39-37 going into the final quarter and led 46-45 after a pair of MaKenna Taylor free throws with 3:52 to play, but Kelsey Bachman hit a 3 to give the Indians (7-3, 4-2 GWOC American North) the lead for good — a lead that grew to as many as 10 at 58-48 with just under a minute to play, and the closest the Trojans got from there was six as they simply couldn’t hold onto the basketball with nine fourth-quarter turnovers.
“We took advantage,” Dolph said. “We told the girls all week that this was going to be a four-quarter game, and that we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re going to try to make them make mistakes, too. Fortunately, we caused a few more mistakes than we gave up, and we took advantage of opportunities when they happened.”
It was a particularly disappointing effort for Troy (5-3, 3-2 GWOC American North) given its 16-point win at Butler and narrow two-point loss to Tippecanoe in its last two games — teams that beat Piqua by 18 and 29 points, respectively. The two-point loss to the Red Devils on Saturday tied the closest anyone has come to knocking off the reigning division champions, who have not lost a division game since they joined.
“I’ve been talking all year about our consistency or lack of consistency with execution, and tonight we were outschemed, outexecuted, outhustled and, I’ll say it, we were outcoached,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “Piqua wanted it. Piqua had fight and played together, and we obviously did not. We did not.”
And the focus for Piqua coming in was slowing down Troy freshman Macie Taylor, who entered the night tied for the scoring lead in the overall GWOC with 18.7 points per game.
“We wanted to wear them down with the box-and-one,” Dolph said. “And in the second half, the plan was to continue to wear them down. We thought we had enough girls on the bench where if they needed a blow, we could get subs in and just keep coming at them as much as we could.
“Our concern was (Macie Taylor). She will pull up from anywhere and knock it down from anywhere. She is phenomenal. She’s going to be tough. And the fact that she’s only a freshman? I’m not looking forward to that, but we’ll take them when we can get them.”
“Tipp ran a box-and-one and triangle-and-two on us, but we ran our offense and executed,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen a box-and-one and know how to play against it. We just didn’t.”
Macie Taylor still finished with a game-high 22 points and added five rebounds and two assists, scoring 14 in the first half to help Troy take a 29-27 lead at halftime. Tia Bass added 15 points and six rebounds, but after that, the highest scorer had only four points.
Piqua, though, got 3-pointers from four different players, and three Indians finished in double digits. Bachman led the way with 15 points — 12 of them coming in the second half — and hit three 3s, including two in the fourth that both gave Piqua the lead. Tylah Yeomans added 12 points — eight in the second half — and seven rebounds, and Chloe Stewart hit three 3s and added 11 points.
“We are definitely a team. On any given night, anyone can lead us,” Dolph said. “That’s the kind of team we are. When someone’s not having their night, someone else picks up the slack.”
“If you look at the stats, they’re shooting 24 percent from 3. I’m tired of being a numbers person, because every time I rely on the numbers, it kicks our butt,” Johnson said, “They shot the lights out tonight. Give them credit — they made plays and they hit shots when they had to.”
Karley Johns added nine points for the Indians, Elizabeth Kidwell had five points, Aubree Schrubb and Hailey McPherson both had four points and Andrea Marrs scored two. Piqua won the turnover battle by forcing 26 and committing only 13 and was 14 for 19 from the free throw line in the game, while Troy was 11 for 18.
For Troy, Erika Innes scored four points, Lauren McGraw had three points and six rebounds, Laura Borchers had two points and five rebounds and MaKenna Taylor, Morgan Kaiser, Brennah Hutchinson and Taylor Roop each scored two points, with the Trojans winning the battle of the boards 36-23.
Piqua’s last win over Troy came on Feb. 14, 2015 in a 38-30 victory, capping off a sweep during the 2014-15 regular season. Troy had won six straight meetings since then.
“When Troy and Piqua play, records don’t matter. It’s a game of heart and passion,” Johnson said. “That’s what a rivalry game is. We didn’t have the heart, we didn’t have the passion and we didn’t deserve to win. Coach Dolph has those young ladies playing hard and together, and he’s done an incredible job — and they’re only going to get better. And we weren’t ready to play today.”
“We’ve got to go to their place now (on Feb. 9, 2019), and obviously it’ll be a different scenario,” Dolph said. “They’ll know what to expect a little bit, but this one I’ll take. This feels good, and we’ll enjoy this one.”
Troy faces another tough test on Saturday, traveling to Miami East, while Piqua will aim for its fourth straight win at Trotwood the same afternoon.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.