By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy’s MaKenna Taylor was prepared for the worst.
“I knew I had to get the rebound, but I thought I was about to get my shot blocked,” she said.
As it turns out, she didn’t have to worry.
Taylor was all alone to stick back a miss in transition by teammate Kiyha Adkins with roughly 1.5 seconds left on the clock, giving the Trojan girls basketball team an exciting 42-41 victory after a back-and-forth battle with the Fairborn Skyhawks in Greater Western Ohio Conference American League crossover play Wednesday night at the Trojan Activities Center.
The win moves Troy to 5-4 on the season and 3-3 in GWOC American North Division play, while Fairborn fell to 4-7 and 3-2 in the GWOC American South.
Troy coach Aaron Johnson was at a loss for words.
“I just said ‘Wow,’” he said. “I didn’t know what else to say.”
Eventually, he found some words.
“I think some things started clicking,” Johnson said. “We had much better execution, the energy level was really high and the effort, I think some girls played really hard. It’s great to get a win like that when you have that type of execution and effort.
“Fairborn is much better than their record. (Evelyn) Oktavec is just a flat-out scorer. We ended up putting her on the free throw line a lot at the end of the game, and she did what scorers do and hit her free throws.”
And while Oktavec hit two 3s, led all scorers with 16 points and went a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line — including 6 for 6 in the final three minutes — it wasn’t Oktavec shooting free throws to protect a 41-40 Skyhawk lead with 10.7 seconds left on the clock and both teams out of timeouts.
Fairborn missed both free throws, and Adkins grabbed the rebound and went coast to coast with the ball, but she missed her layup try. Taylor was in perfect position, though, and her uncontested putback gave Troy the win.
“Oh, we knew who we didn’t want shooting them,” Johnson said. “I screamed to them before the free throws a play that is either Kiyha or MaKenna going to the hole, and when they go to the hole, the rest of the girls follow. And MaKenna did it perfectly. Kiyha attacked the basket, the basketball gods put the ball in MaKenna’s hands and she kissed it off the glass with around 1.6 seconds left.”
Taylor, meanwhile, was on Cloud Nine.
“It feels really great,” she said. “It was exciting. We were all in the locker room getting hyped after. We earned this one.”
Taylor led the Trojans with 11 points on the night, hitting three 3-pointers — including one right before the end of the third quarter to put Troy up 34-29. But Fairborn began that fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to grab the lead with 2:45 to play, and the lead changed hands five more times from there until Taylor’s score in the closing seconds to win it.
Alaura Holycross finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, with eight points and eight of those rebounds coming in the first half alone to help the Trojans turn an 11-10 deficit after one quarter into a 26-20 halftime lead. Tia Bass finished with nine points — seven in the second half — and seven rebounds, Jordan Short hit a pair of 3s and finished with six points, Adkins had three points and Laura Borchers had two points.
After Oktavec’s 16 points, Khala Powell had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Skyhawks. Jodee Austin added seven points and five rebounds, Chloe Johnson had three points and five rebounds and Cassidy Mustard had two points.
Troy outrebounded Fairborn 34-26 in the game but committed 14 turnovers to the Skyhawks’ eight. The Trojans also went 5 for 14 from the free throw line in the game, including missing all three tries in the fourth quarter, while Fairborn was 11 for 15 in the game, including 6 for 9 in the fourth.
In the end, though, it all came down to the Trojans’ composure in the final seconds and their will to win.
“I can’t recall having a win like that in a while,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to be able to be on that side of things. It’s nice to be able to find a way to win one of those. They stayed together, they trusted one another, they worked hard — and they deserved that type of win.
“It was nice to see the hustle and effort. It would’ve been easy to say ‘oh no, here we go again.’ But the girls never quit. They never gave up, and they never quit on each other. And that was huge.”
Troy hosts Covington Saturday in the fifth game of a six-game homestand, with the varsity tip-off time being moved to 2:30 p.m.
Spr. Shawnee 51,
COVINGTON — With Covington playing without Sammi Whiteman — who dropped 34 points on Springfield Shawnee in a Covington victory last season — the Braves were able to get the better of the Buccaneers this time in a 51-36 Covington loss Wednesday night in non-league play.
Jordan Crowell hit three 3-pointers and led the Buccs (7-3) with 12 points, Kenzie Long added 10 and Tori Lyle chipped in five. Lillian Hamilton had four points, Morgan Lowe scored three and Lauren Christian scored two.
Covington travels to Troy Saturday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.