By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — Even after his team snapped a four-game losing streak, Troy boys basketball coach Paul Bremigan was, as he often is, very soft-spoken and matter-of-fact.
After his Tippecanoe Red Devils, who were averaging 70.9 points per game coming in, were held to a season-low 39, coach Adam Toohey couldn’t think of much to say.
Tuesday night’s Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division matchup proved to be decided in the game’s first few minutes as the Trojans went on a 12-0 run to begin the game and played solid defense from there, holding the Devils to below 30 percent from the field on the night in a 52-39 victory at Tippecanoe High School.
With the win, the Trojans — who had won four of five before hitting their four-game slide — improved to 9-12 overall and 7-7 in the GWOC American North. The win total is the most for Bremigan in a season during his tenure with the Trojans — Troy won seven games last season and eight during his first year with the team in the 2015-16 season.
And the turnaround was particularly huge from the past two games. After scoring a season-low 29 points in a loss at Butler Friday, the Trojans shot a dismal 28.3 percent from the field Saturday in a loss at Celina. But Tuesday, Troy was 19 for 43 (44.2 percent) from the field in the game, including 3 for 11 from 3-point range — with all of those makes coming during the first quarter.
“We just keep playing,” Bremigan said. “When you play three games in five days, you’ve got to have a short memory. We didn’t talk a whole lot about it (the bad shooting night Saturday). We did talk about how well we’ve been shooting the 3, though. We’re not to the point where we’re going to shoot it 40 times a game, but when we shoot it 15 or so times, then we’re pretty good if we take good shots.”
Cole Brogan and Brayden Siler each hit a 3 during the Trojans’ 12-0 run to open the game, and after Tippecanoe (12-9, 7-7 GWOC American North) scored five quick points to get back into the game, Chris Demeo drilled one and Zach Reichelderfer hit a layup to make the score 17-5 Troy after one quarter.
The Devils’ shooting woes never improved after the first quarter, either, as Troy’s defense held them to 15 for 53 (28.3 percent) from the field on the night, including 4 for 20 (20 percent) from 3-point range, to complete the season sweep. And while, in the first matchup between the teams back on Dec. 19, 2017, the Devils were 19 for 20 from the free throw line in that 54-52 loss, Tuesday they were only 5 for 9 (55.6 percent).
“It was frustrating, but it was frustrating because it’s also confusing,” Toohey said. “This was something I haven’t seen out of our guys since I got here. I just felt like nobody was on their game. I was literally speechless. I went into the locker room and just said ‘I don’t have much. Let’s learn from it, put it behind us and move on.’
“And give it to Troy. They were great and did a great job of executing. When you spot a team 12 … a 12-point run anytime is a great run, but to start it off makes it all the more (important).”
Troy led by as many as 16 twice in the second quarter, at 21-5 and 23-7, but the Devils were able to get back into it once the Trojans stopped hitting 3s, drawing as close as seven at 25-18 at halftime after a Caiden Smith layup at the buzzer. But Reichelderfer and Jacob Martinez — who both had big second halves — hit the first two buckets of the third quarter to make it an 11-point game again, and the closest Tippecanoe got from there was eight points.
“You have to give it to our defense tonight. To hold them that far below their average is good,” Bremigan said. “I realize they didn’t shoot real well tonight, but there’s been some nights where we didn’t shoot real well, and nobody felt sorry for us.
“We’d get a little run going, but then they’d have a run, too,” Toohey said. “We’d score five or six straight, but then they’d get the same right back and we could never break that threshold.”
Martinez scored nine of his game-high 13 points in the second half and added five rebounds and two assists, while Reichelderfer — who hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in the first meeting between the teams — scored 10 of his 12 points and grabbed nine of his 11 rebounds after halftime and added three assists. Brogan added nine points and two assists, Monroe had eight points, 10 rebounds and three steals, Siler had seven points and two assists and Demeo had three points.
“Jacob and Zach rebounded the ball real well for us, and Caillou (Monroe) has really helped us on the boards, too, as far as taking the pressure off of Zach to rebound,” Bremigan said. “It was good balance for us tonight. I was happy with our defense and rebounding tonight, because it’s what makes us go.”
Dan Hagen had 12 points and five rebounds to lead Tippecanoe and Josh Wildermuth added nine points. Smith — the second-leading scorer in the GWOC American North — was held to five points and added five rebounds, three assists and four steals, Ben Sauls and Noah Bledsoe each added four points, Tyler Skaggs had three points and Cade Gingerich scored two.
Both teams finish the regular season Friday night by hosting their respective Senior Nights. Tippecanoe has a chance to play spoiler against Butler — which will enter the night tied with Sidney for the GWOC American North lead — while Troy hosts archrival Piqua.
“This was a good win for us,” Bremigan said. “This was a good win for the kids and will help give them some confidence. We’ll enjoy this one tonight and get ready for Piqua tomorrow.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.