By Josh Brown
TROY — After losing three straight road games and five of its last seven, the Troy boys basketball team felt like it had something to prove.
“We’ve played teams, and we’ve beaten them, but we haven’t beaten a team the caliber of Stebbins, that can put up 70-80 points a night,” Troy’s Zach Reichelderfer said. “We lost to Sidney and Butler, and that didn’t feel good. We just wanted to make a statement with this game and get back on track after a three-game losing streak on the road.”
The Trojans did all of that and more as Reichelderfer scored a career high and posted his fifth double-double of the year, Chris Demeo matched his career high and Troy played its best half of basketball this season in the first half and maintained control throughout a hectic second half to hold on for a 62-53 victory over a quality Stebbins team Saturday night at the Trojan Activities Center.
Troy improved to 5-7 overall and 3-4 in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play, while Stebbins — which had won three of its last four coming in — fell to 6-6 and 2-4 in the GWOC American South. The Trojans also improved to 4-1 in home games this season, having won their last three in the TAC.
“It’s nice to be back home,” Troy coach Paul Bremigan said. “We played pretty well. We got the ball to Zach in spots, and I thought (Jacob) Martinez played well. Our post played well, especially when their big kid (Jonathon Mpanzu) was out with foul trouble, which helped us get a little bit of a lead. We kept our turnovers down against a team that I thought really comes after you — and they did in the second half. We looked a little shaky at times, but we also got some easy baskets and took care of the ball.”
“It definitely feels good to be back at home,” Reichelderfer said. “It’s always fun to be back at home and have the home crowd on your side. A three-game road trip, I don’t think I’ve had that in my whole high school career.”
Reichelderfer also had never had a game quite like Saturday’s in his high school career.
The senior scored a game-high 29 points — his previous best was 25 in a last-second victory over Tippecanoe back on Dec. 19 — and added 12 rebounds and three assists. Reichelderfer stayed steady throughout the game, too, scoring 14 points in the first half to help the Trojans take a commanding 33-19 lead at the break. He got to the free throw line regularly, too, both by being aggressive early on and then by controlling the ball late when Stebbins was forced to foul in a last-ditch effort to keep pace — and Reichelderfer made the most of every opportunity, going 17 for 19 from the line as Troy was 22 for 30 as a team.
“No, I’ve never shot that many free throws,” he said. “I’ve never shot that many, and to make that many, that’s definitely something I’ve been working on in practice.”
“Zach did a nice job. This was one of his better games,” Bremigan said. “He was consistent throughout the whole game with rebounding and being strong. I think I took him out for maybe two minutes at the most. And with the free throws, a lot of times that’s being strong — and that’s something we haven’t done a whole lot of, taking the ball strong to the basket and getting to the line. We were able to do that tonight.”
And for Reichelderfer, balance was the key.
“Coach always tells me to be aggressive and take my opportunities. I tried to do that tonight while being just passive enough to not be too selfish,” Reichelderfer said. “I felt my teammates did really well on offense and defense, and when I kicked them the ball, they made a lot of their shots. I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from my teammates.”
And all of the Trojans delivered.
Demeo matched his career high with 11 points on the night, hitting a pair of second-quarter 3-pointers to help turn a 14-10 lead after one quarter into the 14-point edge that Troy held at halftime. Martinez also had a big first half, scoring six of his eight points before the break and adding three assists on the night. And Brenden Kinnel scored five of his seven points during the second half to help keep the Trojans in front. Caillou Monroe added four points and Brayden Siler scored three.
“We got good spurts from different people,” Bremigan said. “Chris Demeo came in in the second quarter, hit a couple 3s. I thought Brendan Kinnel did a nice job coming off the bench. Caillou was a little sick tonight, but when he came in he gave us good minutes.”
Damiene Boles led the Indians with 12 points on the night, while Mpanzu finished with 11 points after only scoring two in the first half. Jalen Tolbert added nine points, Chris Davis had six points, Domanick Martin had five, Jamie Bullock had four, Dat Vo had three, Mickael Mayo had two and Tyreese Rutledge had one.
Stebbins did outscore Troy 16-10 in the third quarter, forcing six turnovers — the amount that the Trojans had in the entire first half. But Kinnel hit a shot at the buzzer to keep Troy ahead by eight at 43-35 heading into the fourth, and the closest the Indians could get the rest of the way was five points.
The Trojans head back out on the road and will face arguably their toughest foe of the season Friday night, traveling to 7-2 Trotwood to face a Ram team that averages 95.1 points per game.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.