By Luke Severt
For the Troy Daily News
A snowstorm kept many Troy boys basketball fans at home when the Trojans played Springfield Shawnee on Friday night. However, the small crowd in the Trojan Activities Center was rewarded, as Troy was able to pull off a 45-43 victory against the Braves.
The crowd, while small, erupted as Shawnee guard Aaron Schack prepared to shoot a free throw, the first of a one-and-one if he could put it through. He had been fouled while driving to the hoop with only 8.1 seconds on the clock, his team trailing by one, 44-43. The senior turned his back and walked away in dismay after watching his shot bank off the back of the rim and deflect into the hands of Troy’s Brayden Siler, who was immediately fouled.
Siler would make one of his two free throws, but the one was enough to secure the victory, as Shawnee was unable to get a shot off in the 6.3 seconds that were remaining on the clock. The Trojans improved to 4-4 on the year, the same record that non-conference opponent Shawnee fell to after the loss.
Schack had missed an opportunity to tie the game for his team, but his disappointment likely reflected his performance throughout the game. Shawnee’s leading scorer, he entered the contest with an average of 19.7 points per game, placing him third in the Central Buckeye Conference in scoring. The Trojan defense was able to hold him to only 11 points.
“We knew that he’s a good player, and he runs their offense really well,” Troy coach Paul Bremigan said about Schack. “We put some different guys on him, and that helped.”
The Trojans were able to begin the game on a high note, leading Shawnee 11-10 after the first quarter. It was only the second time they had led after the opening quarter in the eight games they have played.
“It’s good,” said Bremigan when asked about the impact of a first-quarter lead on his team’s confidence. “You know, we have been down 17 points after the first quarter this year. It’s good to have a lead. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the game.”
The Trojans started to pull away in the second quarter, going on runs of 7-0 and 7-2 and finishing with a 28-20 advantage at the half. Senior Zach Reichelderfer, Troy’s leading scorer on the season and on Friday night, finished the half with 13 points.
The momentum shifted in the third as Shawnee was able to charge back into the game, going on a 6-0 run to even the score with two minutes left in the third quarter.
“Shawnee usually plays this type of game. The scores are low and they are methodical in what they do, and it’s tough to get them out of that,” Bremigan said.
The ending of the quarter was bittersweet for Troy as it was able to take a 35-33 lead, but the game was paused for an injury timeout. Trojan sophomore Austin Stanaford’s body was twisted up as he made an effort towards a loose ball, and he fell to the ground, writhing in pain. He was removed from the game with an injury, the severity of which remains unknown.
Shawnee tied the score with a bucket after a two-and-a-half-minute drought to start the fourth quarter. From there, Troy went on a 7-0 run — but could not hold on to the lead, as Shawnee answered with a 6-0 run of its own.
“We didn’t play as well in the fourth quarter as I had hoped. I thought we had a nice lead — we had a seven-point lead with about three minutes left,” Bremigan said. “We just turned the ball over under some pressure. We didn’t handle it real well, and that’s frustrating.”
Despite their poor play in the fourth quarter, the Trojans came out victorious when the final buzzer sounded.
“It was definitely a good win for us, playing a team that hustles every single game like Shawnee,” Reichelderfer said. “This is our third tight game that we have won, and it prepares us for tight games in the future. This was only our eighth game on the season, and I feel like we are definitely maturing as a team.”
Reichelderfer would finish the game with 19 points for the Trojans, his sixth double-digit performance in his seven games on the season. As well as being Troy’s leading scorer, he averages 10.0 rebounds per game, placing him third in Greater Western Ohio Conference. He led Troy with eight rebounds Friday night.
“His rebounding is over 10 a game. Him rebounding the ball for us is huge, and there are times when if he doesn’t rebound the ball, we don’t get it,” Bremigan said.
Reichelderfer’s effort was complemented nicely by Troy senior Eli Palmer, who had eight points. Brenden Kinnel and Jacob Martinez each added five points, with Martinez adding four assists, Chris DeMeo scored three points, Stanaford and Caillou Monroe each had two and Siler finished with one.
Billy Lord led Shawnee with 14 points, followed by 11 from Schack and Camden Van Velzor. The Trojans, who have been struggling offensively, shot 47 percent from the field, a nearly 11-percent improvement from their previous game.
Despite being in different conferences, the two teams have played each other every year since 2013. With the win, the Trojans improve to 3-3 against Shawnee since then. Troy’s next two contests will also be against Central Buckeye Conference opponents, as they travel to Bellefontaine and Urbana on Jan. 3 and 6, respectively.