By Josh Brown
TROY — Tradition matters at Troy Christian.
And, even if the style used to achieve them isn’t the same, so do results.
The Troy Christian boys basketball team won its 40th consecutive Metro Buckeye Conference matchup Friday night, beginning its quest for its sixth straight championship with a superb defensive effort against Miami Valley with a 57-36 victory at the Eagles’ Nest.
“It’s important to the kids,” Troy Christian coach Ray Zawadzki said. “They want to protect the tradition and legacy that others sweated and worked for. Defending the league title is really important to the kids. They want it bad, and tonight was a good start toward that.”
“Experience is the main thing,” said senior K.C. Kamentz, one of the few remaining starters from last year’s team. “We’re pretty young, but we’re coming along. We’re ironing out some kinks, but we’ve got a group that is putting in the work and wants to be successful.”
And while, in the past, the Eagles (2-0, 1-0 MBC) blew away teams with its potent offense, defense appears to be their calling card this year.
Troy Christian held Miami Valley (0-3, 0-1 MBC) without a field goal for more than 15 minutes, overcoming a slow start on offense itself to build a 12-1 lead after one quarter. A 19-0 run that continued into the second quarter gave the Eagles total control, while the Rams didn’t connect on a field goal until there was only 45 seconds left before the half — and Troy Christian led 27-11 at the break.
Miami Valley was an anemic 1 for 23 from the field in the first half, while Troy Christian was 10 for 28 from the field — but only 4 for 18 from the free throw line.
“That’s what we’ve kind of identified with this group, that we’ll depend on our defense first and it’s going to take a while for the offense to catch up,” Zawadzki said. “Seven of these guys hadn’t touched a basketball since July when we got them, so we kind of expect the offense to trail the defense. But you cannot question these kids’ effort. They give everything they have every night.
“That’s 36 points allowed in back-to-back games. I think that’ll be the staple of this team — we’re going to be nasty on defense.”
In the third, the Eagle offense began to catch up — thanks again to that defense.
Troy Christian forced 10 turnovers in the quarter, converting nearly all of them into easy points going the other way. An early steal-and-layup by Kamentz made it 31-13, then a steal by Hayden Hartman turned into another Kamentz bucket. Kamentz then drove the lane and kicked out to Peyton Spurlock for one of the Eagles’ three 3s on the night, Spurlock converted another turnover with a layup, Seth Wynne had a steal-and-layup and then Wynne hit a 3 to make it 43-13 and cap off a 14-0 run.
Altogether, Troy Christian was 11 for 16 from the field in the third quarter, while Miami Valley — though it shot a better percentage — wasn’t able to hold onto the ball long enough to take shots, going 3 for 9 as the Eagles led 49-17 after three and coasted to the win.
“We just kept plugging away,” Kamentz said of turning around the early offensive woes. “We work at it every day. We know the shots will fall, so it’s the execution and whether or not we get good open looks that we worry about. When our defense is intense and active, then our offense starts clicking, too.”
“The game of basketball is defense first,” said sophomore post player James Anderson, who altered Ram shots in the paint and kept them off the boards all night. “Our defense leads to offense, and that’s what we did tonight.”
“A lot of the offense we had in the third quarter was generated by our aggressiveness on defense,” Zawadzki said. “Our gameplan was to wear them out. They got into foul trouble early, and we were playing 10 guys, so I think that’s what happened in the third. They just couldn’t take our pressure anymore.”
Kamentz led the Eagles with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists — one of three Troy Christian players in double figures. Anderson and Wynne both had career highs, Anderson with 15 points and seven rebounds and Wynne with 10 points.
Peyton Spurlock added five points, Ben Schenk scored four, Hayden Hartman had three and Chase Hayden had one.
Casey Gossett led Miami Valley with 15 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter with the game already out of hand.
Troy Christian goes on the road for its next game, putting its MBC winning streak on the line at Xenia Christian on Dec. 11.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.