By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — As Middletown climbed back into the game, the technicals began to fly.
But instead of letting the game slip away, the Troy boys basketball team retook control.
“It was really fun, honestly, but we need to keep our cool more, learn to stay composed,” Troy’s Jaden Owens said. “We’ve got to come together as a team instead of falling apart. They (Middletown) just did that a little more than us.”
Owens in particular played a big role in keeping the Trojans together, pouring in a career-high 32 points — including going 12 for 13 from the free throw line as the Middies tried to turn the game chippy late — acting as the glue that held the Trojans together in a 68-60 non-league victory over Middletown Monday at the Trojan Activities Center.
After falling behind early, Troy (6-2) led by as many as 11 in the second quarter. But Middletown (1-6) cut that lead to six at 38-32 at the end of the third quarter when an altercation after the buzzer led to a technical foul on the Middies. Owens hit both free throws and then three more free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt, but Middletown answered with a 3 on the other end — but a taunting technical after that shot allowed Troy to stretch its lead to 11 again at 46-35 after a layup by Shaeden Olden. However, a taunting call on the Trojans after that basket allowed Middletown to hang around just a bit longer.
With the game getting out of control, the Trojans simply calmed down from there and took care of business.
“It did, and I think we did a good job down the stretch of staying composed,” Troy coach Mark Hess said. “They lost their composure a little bit, and we did a good job of staying composed and finishing the game. Sometimes teams do that just to get you out of your game — we were up a little bit, it started to become a bit of an individual matchup, we started making mistakes and it let them get back into it. But we did a decent job of staying composed and finishing.”
And Owens played a big part in that. After scoring 15 points in the second quarter to help Troy take control, the junior added 17 of Troy’s 30 fourth-quarter points to help the Trojans keep it.
“He really had a nice performance offensively,” Hess said. “He’s playing with confidence and has been a solid scorer for us this year. He’s doing a good job of getting into the lane, getting some layups and pull-up jump shots. And he did a great job at the foul line tonight.”
“Honestly, we just needed to play more defense and come together down the stretch, listen to coaching,” Owens said. “Because we did a poor job of that early. We didn’t follow the gameplan at all. But luckily, we came away with the win.”
Early on, the Trojans couldn’t hold onto the basketball, turning it over 10 times in the first quarter as Middletown took a 12-7 lead. But Troy went on a 9-0 run after that, tying the score at 12-12 after one, eventually taking a 16-12 lead and never relinquishing the advantage again. In the end, the Trojans only committed 12 more turnovers in the next three quarters, finishing with 22 on the night and forcing 20 by the Middies.
“Our turnovers early weren’t even being sped up. It was just us forcing things,” Hess said. “Sometimes we get a little impatient, and we were forcing things that weren’t there and were a little careless. You could tell it was the first day of Christmas break. But we cleaned it up, and that really helped us extend our lead in the second and third quarter.”
And with Middletown within eight at 57-49 with 2:51 to play, Elijah Reynolds picked the Middies’ point guard’s pocket at mid court, taking it in for an easy layup to give Troy a 10-point lead and setting the tone for the Trojans’ stretch run, and Middletown got no closer than six the rest of the way.
“That was a big play,” Hess said. “He comes in and changes the game. Even in the first half, he came in and gave us some good minutes. He just brings a presence defensively that frustrates people. He frustrated their point guards early, and they never got into their offense. And that steal late was big time.”
Owens’ 32 points made him the third different Trojan to lead the team in scoring in their past three games. Tre Archie — who led the team past Butler last week — finished with 16 points, five assists and three blocked shots, and Shaeden Olden — who led Troy in Friday’s overtime loss at Sidney — had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“And that’s when we’re best — when it’s a different guy every night,” Hess said. “Guys are starting to play off of each other.”
Landyn Henry added four points and six rebounds, Reynolds finished with three points and Austin Stanaford scored two.
Rob Thompson led the Middies with 20 points, hitting four of the team’s six 3-pointers on the night. Johrdon Mumford added 13 points, Tywan Hall had eight points, Daiven Brown scored seven, Dalyon Blake had six points and five rebounds, Will Williams had five points and Kelvin Shealey scored one.
Troy hosts Springfield Shawnee in another non-league game Friday night and then is off until Jan. 7, 2020 when it hosts Stebbins.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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