By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
FAIRBORN — For a quarter, it seemed like the Troy boys basketball team was in for another battle, like Tuesday’s game against Xenia.
After that first eight minutes, though, the Trojans decided to put it away.
“We don’t like nail-biters,” Hess said. “When we defend and we rebound, our lives are so much easier.”
Troy hit its first six shots from the field and took a four-point lead after a blistering first quarter and led by 10 at the half, then the Trojans only allowed seven third-quarter points to build a 22-point lead and sealed it with a solid defensive effort in the fourth, pulling away from Fairborn to wrap up a 71-46 Miami Valley League crossover victory Friday night at Baker Middle School.
With the win, Troy improved to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the MVL Miami Division, while Fairborn fell to 1-4 and 1-3 in the MVL Valley Division.
And after a 10-point loss to West Carrollton the previous week and allowing Xenia to hang around late in a six-point win on Tuesday, the Trojans shut down the Skyhawks on the defensive end in the second half to leave no doubt.
“We gave up around 10 points in a 14-minutes stretch of the second half. You can tell we worked on defense for two days in practice,” Hess said. “We felt like, defensively in the last couple games, we haven’t been very good, so we came in Wednesday to fine-tune some things — and it carried over.
“I said (after the loss to West Carrollton) that we have to work on doing the things we do in practice, and we really saw some growth defensively — and that carried over to tonight defensively, especially in the second, third and fourth quarters.”
And while Troy forced 24 turnovers while only committing 13 in the game, the Trojans’ biggest advantage came on the boards as they outrebounded Fairborn 42-28 in the game, limiting the Skyhawks to one shot on practically every trip down the floor while cashing in second and third chances on their own end.
“We talked about rebounding well, and we really did an excellent job offensively and defensively on the glass,” Hess said. “And that’s got to be an M.O. for us. Shaeden (Olden) and Austin (Stanaford) are motors on the glass, are really aggressive, and I thought Landyn (Henry) and Jaden (Owens) did a good job, as well. We’ve just got to carry that on as we move forward.”
As a result of their play on the defensive end, all four players finished in double digits offensively, as well. Owens led all scorers with 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench, Henry added 12 points and hit two of Troy’s four 3-pointers, Olden did a bit of everything with 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists and Stanaford had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“We’re best when we’re distributing the ball like that. We’re harder to guard when everyone is scoring,” Hess said. “We’ve been settling for too many jump shots the last few games, and I thought tonight we did a lot better job of getting the ball inside, driving, getting the defense to collapse.”
And even though it was defense that turned the game in Troy’s favor, it was a fast start offensively that gave it the early edge.
Henry scored on a baseline drive for the game’s first points, then Olden converted a steal with a fast-break layup and then converted a 3-point play to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead. Fairborn answered, but a drive by Olden and dump to Andrew Holley for a bucket kept things rolling, and another dish from Olden to Stanaford gave Troy an 11-4 lead. A 3 by Henry made the score 14-6 before the Trojans finally missed a shot.
Once Troy started missing, though, Fairborn was able to close the gap as Dwight Lewis scored eight first-quarter points, including a fast-break layup late to cut the deficit to 21-17 after one — and then Lewis hit a pair of free throws to bring the Skyhawks within two at 21-19 early in the second quarter.
“The first quarter wasn’t great defensively because the tempo was faster,” Hess said. “But we made some adjustments and really set out to rebound better.”
Owens began to take over from there, scoring on a drive and later hitting a 3 to give Troy a 26-20 lead, then a steal and layup by Owens later in the quarter gave the Trojans their first double-digit lead of the game at 36-25. A late putback gave Owens 11 points in the second quarter alone and made the score 40-28, and Troy led 40-30 at halftime.
From there, the Trojans steadily pulled away in the second half thanks to their strong defensive effort, outscoring Fairborn 19-7 in the third to carry a 59-37 lead into the final quarter to put the game out of reach and coasting from there.
Charlie Walker added six points for the Trojans, Holley had four points and four rebounds, Tre Archie had three points and Tucker Raskay, Ryan Davis, Josh Mayfield and Hollis Terrell each scored two points.
Lewis led Fairborn with 14 points and four rebounds, Blake Huffman added nine points, Tyreen Schultz had eight, Bailey Shapp scored five, Julius Pullen had two points and eight rebounds and Cole Spencer, Jackson Coolman, Garison Secrest and Patrick Parrish each scored two points.
Now the Trojans ride a two-game winning streak into their biggest test of the season yet — Troy hosts defending division champion Butler Tuesday.
“It’s nice to play well going into that game. It’s a great opportunity and a big challenge for us,” Hess said. “I’m excited to see how we rise to that challenge. We’ve just got to continue to improve.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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