By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy Christian girls basketball coach Tony Ferraro knows there’s a reason why he has his team work on the same things every day.
His Eagle players do, too — even if they’re not fans of it.
Troy Christian’s defense shut down Springfield Catholic Central — a team averaging 51.3 points per game coming in and that scored 84 points just two games ago — holding the Fighting Irish without a field goal in the first quarter and pulling away for a 53-28 non-league victory Tuesday night at home, the Eagles’ second straight win and eighth in their last nine games.
The Eagles (10-2), who entered the night surrendering only 23 points per game, held a potent Irish offense in check, quickly erasing any open shots Catholic Central may have worked for and cleaning up the boards in the aftermath.
“That’s called closing out on defense with high hands and quick feet,” Ferraro said. “We practice that every do. Sometimes the kids are like ‘coach, do we have to do this again?’ But then it comes to game night, and they know why.
“We practice defense every day. We try to mix it up between our man and our zone, and one of the things I think we do really well is that we communicate well on defense. We don’t leave open shooters. They (Catholic Central) had a game where they almost scored 90 recently, lots of games in the 60s. And we just took them away tonight defensively. I was very proud of our kids.”
Catholic Central (4-8) didn’t get second chances once that first contested shot missed, either. The Eagles outrebounded the Irish 40-23 in the game, with four different players collecting six or more rebounds.
“There’s the key. There’s the key right there,” Ferraro said. “If you get second shots on the offensive end and then knock themselves down on the defensive end and limit them to one shot, there’s not much they can do unless they’re shooting 70 percent.”
And with the Eagle defense holding Catholic Central to an 8 for 32 (25 percent) performance from the field, there wasn’t much the Irish could do.
Troy Christian didn’t allow a field goal in the first quarter, which set the tone for the game. But as effective as the Eagles were on defense, they were equally effective on offense. Lauryn Lavy came off the bench and scored eight points in the first quarter, spurring a 10-0 run and then hitting a jumper at the buzzer to give the Eagles an 18-3 lead after the first eight minutes.
Lavy scored 14 of her career-high 20 points in the first half, including hitting another buzzer-beating shot at halftime to make the score 31-9 Troy Christian. And at the end of the third quarter, she was fouled while shooting at the buzzer and sank both free throws to give the Eagles a commanding 41-13 lead.
“That’s the way it worked out, didn’t it?” Ferraro said with a laugh when asked if the team was drawing up plays to get Lavy the ball with time winding down each quarter. “In the last quarter, she was probably thinking why she wasn’t getting it again.
“On the offensive end, I thought we moved the ball very well tonight. We were very unselfish, and a kid like Lavy getting all of those open shots really helps.”
Lavy wasn’t alone, though, as every Eagle player that got onto the floor scored at least one point. Troy Christian was also 18 for 51 (35.3 percent) from the field, with assists attached to 12 of those 18 field goals.
Kenley Blake scored seven points, Sarah Earhart had six points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots, Cara Salazar had six points and six rebounds, Kathryn Lee had five points, a team-high eight rebounds and three blocked shots and Morgan Taylor had five points, six rebounds and three assists. Jalyn Forrer added three points and two assists and Cait Echols had one point and four assists.
Jenna Skeens led Catholic Central with 13 points and eight rebounds, going 6 for 8 from the free throw line in the game. Abbigail Peterson added six points, Ayanna Doolittle had five points and Taylor Baker had four points.
The game wasn’t even the strongest defensive effort by the Eagles on the season. Three times, Troy Christian has held an opponent to single digits in a game: twice against Middletown Christian, including a 55-8 victory in its most recent game on Jan. 11, and once against Jefferson — which the Eagles face on the road this Thursday.
Troy Christian was also listed in the first Division IV state poll of the season, sitting tied for 13th before its Jan. 8 loss at Legacy Christian, which was 18th at the time. In the latest poll, neither team was in the top 14.
That doesn’t necessarily bother the Eagles, though. Rankings aren’t what is on their mind.
“We’re just going day by day,” Ferraro said. “I didn’t even realize we were in the polls. We just play every day. We’re going to practice Wednesday, we have a league game on Thursday, and that’s our goal, to just keep improving every day.”
Even if it means working on the same things again and again.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.