By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
GREENVILLE — The Troy boys basketball team protected the basketball and played a fast-paced but clean game in its season opener.
And while the team’s second game may not have been as pretty, the Trojans still found a way to come out on top.
“I told them it was good to find a way to win when we didn’t play well offensively,” first-year Troy coach Mark Hess said. “We had 27 turnovers, we didn’t shoot well from 3, we didn’t shoot well from the foul line — but we still found a way to win. When we needed to, we made the plays down the stretch.”
Troy led wire to wire in Tuesday’s Miami Valley League Miami Division opener on the road at Greenville, but it took some clutch play throughout to help survive foul trouble and weather a late rally by the Green Wave to hold on for a 62-52 victory and improve the team’s record to 2-0, 1-0 in division play.
The Trojans held an 11-7 lead after the first quarter and a 22-16 lead at halftime despite the fact that Shaeden Olden — who led the team with 19 points in its opener — only had one point at the break and sat most of the second quarter in foul trouble. In addition, Troy simply couldn’t find a way to finish on fast breaks — thanks in large part to D.J. Zimmer’s four blocked shots, three of those in transition — and was 1 for 5 from the free throw line.
“We had a couple breaks early where we just didn’t convert,” Hess said. “It’s stuff I haven’t seen in practice. Maybe we were too tentative to finish or didn’t finish strong. There was a couple times where I felt like we could extend our lead, but we just couldn’t get a bucket or a stop. I mean, in the first half, they had three buckets. We held them to three baskets. We didn’t help ourselves offensively.
“It was a really physical game, and both teams played with a lot of energy. I told the kids after the game that the way we play, you’re going to put refs in a position to make calls with as quick and aggressive some of the guys go to the basket. And that’s the way we want to play, playing hard — and sometimes doing that, you’ll play yourself into some fouls.”
Troy did maintain that lead, though, thanks to its own effort on the defensive end, particularly by Elijah Reynolds, who drew three charging calls on Greenville (1-1, 0-1 MVL Miami) in the second quarter alone and helped hold the Wave to a mere three first-half baskets. Greenville made up for it at the line, though, scoring half of its points before the break there by going 8 for 14.
“I love the way Elijah plays,” Hess said. “He had five fouls at Bellefontaine and four tonight, and he’s one of those guys that plays hard and aggressive. He changes a game defensively. He comes in, brings energy, plays hard — he doesn’t have to score a point, and he can help us out. He’s definitely a difference maker for us, and he made some big plays defensively.”
Tre Archie helped pick up the slack offensively, too, with six first-half points and three assists. He led the team on the night by finishing with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“Tre did a great job,” Hess said. “We had a bunch of guys in foul trouble in the first half, and he had to play a lot of minutes — and play a role that he doesn’t usually have to play. He helped us handle the pressure and helped keep us composed, and he hit some free throws down the stretch. He stepped up for us.”
After Greenville got to within two at 24-22 midway through the third quarter, Olden drove and kicked to Archie for a jumper to get the lead back to four — but then Olden picked up his third foul with 3:31 on the clock. Hess elected to let him stay in the game, though, and he cashed in a steal by Archie with a transition 3-pointer, then he scored a pair of buckets inside to cap off a 9-0 Troy run and push the lead to 11 at 33-22 … only to pick up his fourth foul with 1:42 left in the quarter.
“He was starting to get going a bit, and then you get to where you want to get him out so he doesn’t get that fourth foul,” Hess said. “It was a tough call, but he did get us going there a little bit before that fourth foul.”
That cushion helped carry the Trojans the rest of the way, as they led 37-28 heading into the final quarter. Greenville got to within eight at 58-50 after a 3 by Marcus Wood with 25 seconds to play, but Troy went 17 for 23 from the free throw line in the final eight minutes to preserve the win.
After Archie, Olden finished with 14 points and four assists on the night, Jaden Owens added nine points and Andrew Holley had eight points. Austin Stanaford chipped in six points and seven rebounds, Landyn Henry had six points and Charlie Walker had four points and five rebounds.
Nolan Curtis led Greenville with 16 points, hitting four of the team’s five 3s on the night, Zimmer added 11 points, Wood had 10 points and seven rebounds, Tyler Beyke had nine points and five rebounds and Foster Cole had six points.
It’s only the fourth time since the 2009-10 season that Troy has begun the year 2-0, with the last time being the 2017-18 season. Troy hasn’t been 3-0 to begin a season since opening with a five-game winning streak in 2009-10.
The Trojans will get their chance to go 3-0 Friday when they open at home against West Carrollton in an MVL crossover matchup — but they also know they’ll need to improve on their performance from their first two games, particularly Tuesday’s.
“To have a game like this and still find a way to win, you feel lucky. You feel fortunate,” Hess said. “Greenville wasn’t pressuring and we had 27 turnovers — and West Carrollton is going to pressure. So that’s going to be our focus, hanging onto the basketball and making good passes. If we can pass and catch and handle the pressure, we’re going to be okay Friday night — but we’re going to have to get a lot better at that.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.