By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy boys basketball coach Paul Bremigan said he doesn’t worry about potential tournament seeding until after the draw itself.
After Saturday’s effort, his Trojans’ potential postseason opponents may have more to think about when the time comes to go up on the board.
Facing a Miamisburg team that will likely be one of the top five seeds when the Division I sectional tournament draw is held on Feb. 11, Troy turned in arguably its grittiest and strongest effort against a quality opponent this season. But after controlling the game for the majority of the first three quarters, the Trojans (8-10) lost control in the final quarter and — despite having a shot at a potential game-tying 3 at the buzzer — came up short in a 49-46 loss to the Vikings Saturday at the Trojan Activities Center.
For Miamisburg (14-4), it was its fifth straight and 10th of its last 11. But the Trojans, who had a three-game winning streak snapped Friday night against division rival Sidney, dropped their second straight — yet still, they showed the capability to play with anybody, which could be a benefit when the draw comes.
Not that any of that is on Bremigan’s mind.
“(I’m more focused on) the next game. I never worry about the tournament until it comes,” said Bremigan, who won 11 sectional titles, five district titles and one regional title during 31 seasons as Russia’s head coach. “Until you find out who you’re going to play, and once it’s your last game of the season, then you worry about that.”
What was on Bremigan’s mind, though, was how his Trojans led Saturday’s game with as little time left as 3:42 in the fourth quarter — and how the Vikings rallied and swiped control away.
“I thought we played better offensively tonight, but it’s frustrating because we had some turnovers in the fourth quarter that hurt us,” Bremigan said. “We had four or five turnovers in the fourth, and that’s not good. We let (Miamisburg’s Savon O’Neal) get loose on us for some driving layups. We were behind and were in some traps, but we’ve got to get up and challenge that. We’ve got bigs that have got to challenge those shots when he drives — he pretty much had free layups.
“But the effort was there, and we played better offensively than we did last night. We finished better. I’d still like to see us go to the foul line more than that. It’s inconceivable to me that people are going to the foul line more than we are. It’s just amazing to me. I can’t figure it out. We keep telling these kids over and over to be strong with the basketball and take it to the basket, but we’ll keep working at it.”
Troy held the biggest lead of the game in the first quarter at 16-10, going on a 6-0 run after the Vikings tied the game at 10-10. Jacob Martinez scored on a drive, Zach Reichelderfer scored in transition and then Reichelderfer scored on a putback before Corey Hartman hit a 3 to end the run. The Trojans still led by one in the closing second of the quarter, but O’Neal banked in a buzzer-beating 3 from half court to give Miamisburg an 18-16 lead after one.
There were four ties and six lead changes throughout the first half, with Reichelderfer hitting a pair of free throws right before the break to give the Trojans a 25-24 lead. Troy held a 29-26 lead with 4:39 left in the third after a three-point play by Brenden Kinnel, but the Vikings closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 33-29 lead into the fourth.
Troy tied the score with two quick buckets and eventually took a 37-35 lead on a Chris Demeo putback with 4:40 to play. After two free throws and a layup by O’Neal gave the lead back to the Vikings, Demeo drilled a 3 to put Troy up 40-39 with 3:42 to play — but that would be the last time Troy held the lead.
“Defensively, we held them to six (in the second quarter) and nine (in the third quarter) and then 16,” Bremigan said. “We got a little behind with two minutes to go, and we had to come out and trap a little bit — and we just couldn’t get over the hump. We had some turnovers that hurt us.”
And even though Miamisburg led 49-45 with 21 seconds remaining, Reichelderfer hit a free throw with 14.8 seconds left — and the Trojans forced a turnover on the in-bounds play, giving themselves 13.8 seconds to draw up a play for a game-tying 3.
But Miamisburg’s defense didn’t allow the intended shooter to catch the in-bounds pass cleanly, forcing a contested desperation shot at the buzzer from 30 feet away that came up well short.
“We had a couple plays, but we just didn’t catch the ball on that last play where we could have had a 3,” Bremigan said.
O’Neal led all scorers with 16 points for Miamisburg, with 12 of them coming in the fourth quarter. Troy held Jason Hubbard, the Greater Western Ohio Conference National West Division’s leading scorer, and Duncan Hall, the West’s fourth-leading scorer, both below their average, with Hubbard finishing with 10 points and six rebounds and Hall with six points and nine rebounds. Hartman had nine points, Brett Hensley had six points and Dane Hall had two points.
Reichelderfer had 13 points and five rebounds and Martinez had 12 points and four rebounds to lead Troy. Demeo and Brayden Siler both added five points, Cole Brogan had five points and three assists and Kinnel and Caillou Monroe both scored three points.
“Zach and Jacob played well in the post tonight,” Bremigan said. “Chris Demeo played a nice fourth quarter for us. They’ve (Miamisburg) had a good year. They just hurt us on the boards. We got outrebounded twice this weekend, and we just can’t do that.”
Troy will face one more big test before the tournament draw — the Trojans travel to 16-2 GWOC American North Division leader Butler Friday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.