By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
BRANDT — For the Bethel girls basketball team, it was a solid bounce-back win after a disappointing league loss.
For Troy, it was the same old story.
“It’s a record being played over and over again,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “And we have to flip it to the other side.”
The Bees used a 19-0 run between the second and third quarters, including 17 unanswered points to begin the second half, to come from behind and take control against the visiting Trojans Saturday at the Hive, as Bethel evened its record on the season and handed Troy its third straight loss, 53-42.
“It was a decision at halftime that we had to make — were we going to come out and play in the second half, or not? And we did,” Bethel coach Corey Steinke said. “Last Thursday, we did not play in the second half. I thought we did a good job on Macie (Taylor) and a good job on Tia (Bass) down low. It helps when you get her in foul trouble, and we made it a priority to take the ball and go after her.”
“Corey does a great job with those young ladies. That’s what they’re supposed to do — and we just didn’t answer the bell,” Johnson said.
Troy (1-3) had jumped out to an early lead as big as nine points in the first quarter and led 12-6 after one — thanks in large part to 10 early points by sophomore point guard Taylor. But Bethel (3-3) took advantage of Bass being forced to sit on the bench most of the first half in foul trouble for the second straight game and cut that lead to two by halftime at 21-19 — and then took charge from there.
“We started out real well, but I told the girls the longer we let them hang around, the more confident they’re going to get,” Johnson said. “We got up 6-0 and 12-3, started out great, and then we lacked consistent execution. They fought back and stayed in the game the whole time, and then in that third quarter they were confident and we were not. And that 19-0 run was the death of us.”
And every time Bethel needed a big shot, either Kenna Gray or Liv Reittinger delivered.
Reittinger hit a pair of free throws early in the third to tie the score, then Bass picked up her fourth foul with 5:20 still to go in the quarter. Another free throw by Reittinger and a 3 by Gray gave the Bees a four-point lead, and it simply continued to swell from there as the duo combined for 11 points in the third. Lydia Lowery added a pair of buckets and Skylar Johnson hit one and the Bees led by as many as 15 at 36-21 before Elise McCann hit a jumper to end the run and make the score 36-21 Bethel heading into the fourth.
Gray led all scorers with 21 points for the Bees on the day and hit five 3-pointers, while Reittinger added 14 points.
“That’s probably the first time all year that we’ve needed something to happen together with the two of them, and it finally did,” Steinke said. “They came up clutch in the end for us.”
The game wasn’t over, though, as the Trojans — in a familiar position, trailing by double digits heading into the final quarter — began to fight back.
A drive by Taylor and some free throws got Troy to within 11, then Taylor drove and dished to Brynn Siler for a layup to get the lead to single digits at 38-29. Gray answered with a 3 to push the lead back to 12, but a pair of free throws by Taylor and another layup by Siler kept Troy alive.
Bethel got the lead back up to 10 at 47-37, but a 3 by Taylor with 1:06 to play and then a steal by McCann and layup by Taylor cut the lead to five at 47-42 with 55.8 seconds on the clock.
“I’m proud of the way we fought back,” Johnson said. “We cut it down to five, and to me that was through execution. We need to figure out that we don’t have to be down 14 points before we start executing.”
That was as close as Troy got, though, as Reittinger hit a pair of free throws, then Gray hit two more after a Trojan turnover to make it 51-42 with :20.1 seconds remaining. Another turnover led to two more free throws by Reittinger, and one final turnover allowed the Bees to run out the clock.
“Free throws, honestly, are what won it for us at the end,” Steinke said. “They got it down to five, and we came back and hit 6 out of 6 at the line to ice it.”
After Gray and Reittinger, Natalie Moorman gave the Bees one more player in double figures with 10 points, while Lowery added six and Johnson had two.
Taylor led the Trojans with 20 points — 10 in the first and fourth quarters each — and added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. Siler and Bass each had six points and 10 rebounds, while McCann and Laura Borchers each scored five, with Borchers grabbing six rebounds.
Both teams head back to league play Monday, with Troy traveling to West Carrollton for a Miami Valley League crossover game and Bethel hosting Cross County Conference rival Franklin Monroe.
“No time to rest, I’ll tell you what,” Steinke said. “We’re taking Sunday off. We played Thursday night, practiced Friday, played again today and now we play Monday. So we’ll go back to the grind and see what we can do.”
“We’re close,” Johnson said. “It’s just a matter of getting some success. But what we did in that fourth quarter was execute. We didn’t do anything spectacular, but we played solid defense and executed offensively and got back into the game. If we can figure out that, to win a game, it will take that — but four quarters of it — I think we’ll be that team I know we’re capable of being.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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