Learning curve

By Joshua Brown

December 11, 2013

By Josh Brown

Sports Editor

TROY — Troy’s young girls basketball team is quickly learning who it can compete with.

Just about anyone.

And if not for a two-minute stretch at the end of the third quarter, they might have proved it to everyone else, as well.

But Lebanon (4-2) scored eight straight to end the third quarter, turning a one-point lead into a comfortable 31-22 margin heading into the fourth as the Warriors began capitalizing on Troy’s mistakes in a 47-33 Trojan loss Wednesday at the Trojan Activities Center.

It was also a game that Troy (2-4) led at the half, 20-16.

“I told the girls that that was the best defense we’ve played all year,” Troy coach Nathan Kopp said. “If we can play that kind of defense all the time, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

But the Warriors held Troy scoreless for the first five minutes of the third quarter to retake the lead at 23-22 — and then they put the game away with their pressure.

Lebanon — which forced 25 turnovers on the night, but many in dead-ball situations that took away fast break opportunities — was able to get out in transition off of five Trojan turnovers during the final two minutes of the quarter and cash them in for easy points for the first time in the game. Gracen Howard stole the ball and scored twice, then she finished off another break after a Lebanon steal. And with time winding down in the quarter, Howard nabbed an offensive rebound and found a teammate open for a jumper to make it 31-22 Lebanon.

Howard finished with a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds.

All of those Troy turnovers during the stretch were a direct result of the Trojans struggling to break Lebanon’s full-court pressure — something they’d handled throughout the game until then.

“When we have composure, we can compete with anyone left on our schedule,” Kopp said. “We can’t let the situation get to us. In that third quarter, Lebanon went on a 15-2 run, 8-0 in the last two minutes, and we just didn’t have an answer because we couldn’t get the ball across half court.”

And once they fell behind and had to take more risks to try to catch up, the Trojans opened themselves up for Lebanon to cash in on more mistakes.

A Kennedi Kyzer 3 to start the fourth got Troy to within six, but that was as close as the Trojans would get. Kaitlyn Bergman scored six of her eight points in the second half, and Maygan Boettcher (eight points) hit a pair of 3s to keep the gap wide.

It was a complete turnaround from the first half, where the Trojan defense held Lebanon to only five field goals. And on the offensive side, the Trojans converted on their chances by going 8 for 11 from the free throw line in the second quarter alone, while Lebanon was 5 for 13 in the entire first half. The Trojans used that advantage to maintain a four-point lead through most of the second quarter.

Kyzer led the way for Troy with a game-high 19 points, seven rebounds and two assists. The freshman entered the night in third in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division in scoring with 12.8 points per game.

Maddy Taylor added six points, and Zechariah Bond had four points and seven rebounds.

“I told the girls that it’s never OK to lose, but we did see more positives than negatives in this game,” Kopp said. “It might be odd to say that about a 14-point loss, but it’s the truth. We’ve just got to keep getting better and making sure we’re not making the same mistakes next time out.”

Troy plays at Wayne Saturday night, directly following the boys’ game.

Lebanon — 47

Brady 0-0-0, Frank 0-0-0, Perry 0-3-3, Spatz 2-1-5, Boettcher 2-2-8, Showalter 2-1-5, Hannigan 0-0-0, Stegemiller 1-0-2, Howard 7-2-16, Russell 0-0-0, Bergman 4-0-8. Totals: 18-9-47.

Troy — 33

Jenna Kaup 0-1-1, Sierra Besecker 0-1-1, Maddy Taylor 3-0-6, Bailey Dornbusch 0-0-0, Kennedi Kyzer 5-8-19, Bailey Hess 1-0-2, Kayla Niswonger 0-0-0, Zechariah Bond 1-1-4. Totals: 10-11-33.

Score By Quarters

Leb7 16 31 47

Troy5 20 22 33

3-point goals: Lebanon — Boettcher 2. Troy — Kyzer, Bond.

Records: Lebanon 4-2. Troy 2-4.

JV score: Lebanon 61, Troy 26.