By Josh Brown
TROY — All good things may have to come to an end.
But Troy Christian coach Ray Zawadzki can find a little comfort in the fact that it didn’t necessarily have to come to an end when it did.
However, the five-time defending Metro Buckeye Conference champion Eagles’ league winning streak finally came to an end after 42 games, as Yellow Springs (7-1, 5-0 MBC) made big plays when they counted late and Troy Christian simply couldn’t capitalize on the chances it was given throughout in a 45-31 Bulldog win Tuesday at the Eagles’ Nest.
Troy Christian (4-2, 3-1 MBC) — which hadn’t lost in conference play since a 68-61 defeat at the hands of Middletown Christian on Feb. 7, 2012 — trailed only by two at 26-24 on the penultimate possession of the third, but Yellow Springs’ Ethan Dewine hit a clutch 3 to close out the quarter and Devon Perry kicked off the fourth with two more, giving the Bulldogs enough breathing room to survive the night.
“That’s the exciting thing about it — we’re not that far away,” Zawadzki said. “We were both struggling offensively. Their kids just caught fire, and ours never did. If we could’ve hit a couple big 3s late like that, it would’ve changed the complexion of the game. You’ve got to give them credit, though. Their kids stepped up and hit big shots when they needed to tonight.
“We put a good gameplan together. We believed we could hold them under 50 points — they’d been averaging about 60 per game coming in. We just never dreamed that we’d get stuck on 31.”
The Eagles, meanwhile, went the entire night without hitting a 3-pointers — one of the team’s favorite weapons. They shot 33 percent (5 for 15) in Saturday’s victory over Dayton Christian, and even in their Dec. 12 loss to Mississinawa Valley, they’d hit 9 of 22 for 40 percent.
Those struggles, combined with its struggles from the free throw line, spelled the end of Troy Christian’s MBC winning streak. The Eagles were 4 for 10 from the line in the first half, with a pair of Seth Wynne free throws making the deficit 10-6 at the end of the first quarter and 19-12 at the half.
“We’d been stroking it lately (from 3-point range), too,” Zawadzki said. “When you’re in the bonus as fast as we were tonight, you’ve got to take advantage of those free ones.”
The Bulldogs couldn’t pull away, though, leading only 26-19 late in the third. Jacob Brown scored in transition, then he grabbed a defensive rebound on a misses Yellow Springs 3 — drawing a technical foul and an ejection on one of the Bulldogs’ players in the process. Wynne hit one of the free throws, then James Anderson dished to Ben Schenk inside to make it a 26-24 game with the third quarter winding down.
Isaiah Taylor found Dewine open for a 3 on the ensuing possession, though, to make it 29-24 Yellow Springs going into the fourth, then Perry hit a 3 on the opening possession of the fourth to extend the lead further. Seth Wynne answered with a layup, but Perry canned another 3 and Taylor scored inside, and the Eagles never got to within 10 points again.
Perry led all scorers with 13 points, hitting three of the Bulldogs’ six 3s on the night. Kaner Butler added nine points and 10 rebounds, Taylor scored eight points and Dewine chipped in six.
Wynne finished with 10 points to lead Troy Christian. Luke Dillahunt scored six points, Chase Hayden added five and Anderson and Peyton Spurlock had three apiece.
“My kids are getting better,” Zawadzki said. “The thing I love is that they’ve got a lot of heart and a lot of fight in them, and we can work with that. We’ll get another crack at Yellow Springs later in the year — we’ve just got to take care of our business against everyone else until then.”
Troy Christian will play in the Piqua Holiday Tournament Dec. 29-30, beginning play with a 4 p.m. game against Lehman on Dec. 29.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.