By Josh Brown
BELLEFONTAINE — The Troy boys basketball team’s search for a complete game continues.
Because while the Trojans fixed some issues that have nagged them over the first half of the season, different ones popped up Wednesday night at Bellefontaine — particularly rebounding and a frigid cold shooting night — in a 54-43 loss to the Chieftains in non-league play.
Trailing by only seven at the half, 29-22, Troy (4-5) managed to score only six third-quarter points, didn’t score in the fourth quarter until a free throw at the 5:20 mark and didn’t connect on a field goal in the final quarter until there was 2:27 left in the game — and by then, it was far too late.
“We’ve got to do a better job on the boards,” Troy coach Paul Bremigan said. “We’ve got to rebound, we’ve got to get ourselves in position to rebound. And when we shoot like we did tonight, you’ve got to offensive rebound — and we didn’t tonight.”
Going into the game, Troy — which was outrebounded by Bellfontaine 34-22 in the game — was already at a disadvantage on the boards, missing regular starter Jacob Martinez and bench player Austin Stanaford. While Zach Reichelderfer leads the team and was second in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division with 10.0 rebounds per game coming into the night, Stanford is the team’s third-leading rebounder with 3.8 per game and Martinez the team’s fifth-leading rebounder with 2.4 per game.
“It was a problem when we had Austin and Jacob in the lineup, too, though. It was a problem before,” Bremigan said. “If Zach doesn’t get the rebound, then we don’t get it sometimes. We’ve got to make an effort there.”
Especially when shots simply aren’t falling, no matter how open they are.
“I thought our guards got some good looks, and we missed some shots inside,” Bremigan said. “When we went inside-out, the guards got good looks all night. We’ve just got to knock them down. We scored six points for about 10 minutes, and then it felt like we were stuck on 28 forever.”
Troy kept things close early, falling behind 11-4 but closing the first quarter down only 13-9. But the Chieftains (5-3) hit four consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter, with Jack Clement canning two and Drew Jackson and Donovan Dinovo each hitting one to turn a 15-13 lead into a 27-16 advantage. Brenden Kinnel hit a 3 and a free throw and Reichelderfer scored inside before the half’s end, though, cutting the lead to 29-22 at the break.
But even though the Trojans only turned the ball over four times in the first half and eight total times in the game — a season low and the first time the Trojans have been in single digits for turnovers all year — they simply couldn’t overcome their 14 for 47 (29.8 percent) shooting performance from the field, particularly with the Chieftains keeping them off the glass. Bellefontaine’s lead grew to 39-28 after three quarters and was as big as 19 at 50-31 with three minutes to go in the fourth before the Trojan offense finally started putting the ball in the hole regularly.
Spencer George had a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead Bellefontaine, limiting Troy’s offense to one shot and out on too many possessions with his rebounding. And Will Parsley, despite not scoring in the game, added six rebounds and helped the Chieftain defense once George got into second-half foul trouble. Clement, meanwhile, scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half to help give Bellefontaine the lead early — and once it had that, all it had to do was slow the game down and hold on.
“We want to try to get out and push it on the break more,” Bremigan said. “But that’s something we haven’t done a whole lot of, to tell you the truth, because of our inexperience. Bellefontaine just did a nice job. (Clement) got them off to a nice start. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing on offense and knocking down shots. Eight turnovers is the least amount we’ve had in a long time. We’ve just got to do a better job with the rest now.”
Kaidon Davis-Hughes added six points for Bellefontaine, Dinovo and Nicklaus Lyons each had four, Jackson scored three and Shawn Heft and Carter Sterling both had two.
Reichelderfer led the Trojans with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds, but no other Troy player topped the five-point mark. Eli Palmer scored five, Kinnel scored four, Caillou Monroe, Cole Brogan — who also had four assists — and Brayden Siler each added three points and Chris Demeo scored two points.
The 43 points was Troy’s lowest point total since the season opener, a 39-37 win over St. Marys — and also a game played without leading scorer Reichelderfer, who averages 17.0 points per game.
The Trojans now travel to Urbana Saturday night for the second game of a three-game road trip, which ends at Fairborn on Jan. 9. The Trojans next return home Jan. 12 to host Stebbins.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.