By Josh Brown
TROY — When asked what her previous career high scoring total was, Bailey Hess just chuckled behind a smile.
“Nine,” the Troy senior said.
Nine points? As in, never in double figures before?
“Nope, never double figures,” she said.
Hess reached that mark by the end of the first quarter, and her halftime total was all Piqua could manage as a team. She went on to finish with a career-high 24 points, leading the way as the Trojan girls basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak to the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division rival Indians in a 51-15 victory Monday at the Trojan Activities Center.
“She got hot from everywhere, hit a couple of 3s early. We’d been looking for someone to step up and take hold of the scoring load. But she was also all over the boards and getting steals,” Troy coach Nathan Kopp said of Hess. “It was one of the better games a kid has had for us in a couple of years.”
The 24 points was the most a Troy player has had since Kennedi Kyzer’s 27-point effort in a win over Northmont two seasons ago on Feb. 10, 2014. It was also the Trojans’ (4-6, 1-0 GWOC North) first win over the Indians (1-9, 0-2 GWOC North) since the same season on Jan. 15.
“We told the girls to take that personally, to make the game personal,” Kopp said. “The girls played pretty energized and got up 16-2 early, we used our athleticism to force turnovers and get some easy baskets in transition and everyone did something tonight.”
Especially Hess, who really took the pregame message to heart.
“It’s a big rivalry, and our team just wanted it really, really bad,” she said. “It just kicked in, and I wanted to change things.”
Piqua’s Lily Stewart actually got the first basket of the game after a Troy turnover, but that was all the Trojans allowed the rest of the first quarter, going on a 16-0 run from there. Hess went on a personal nine-point run, converting a three-point play then sinking the first of her three 3-pointers on the night to make it 6-2 Troy. She then finished a fast break after a Jenna Kaup steal and hit a free throw, Kiyha Adkins and Kaup hit layups and Alexis Otstot drilled a 3 to give the Trojans a 14-point edge.
The Indians scored the first four points of the second quarter from the free throw line but still couldn’t find a way to connect from the field against the Troy defense, hitting their only field goal of the quarter with 35 seconds until halftime to make it 20-8. But in that final half-minute, the Trojans — who had been struggling themselves in the quarter — hit back-to-back 3s, with Hess canning one then setting up Jordan Short for another at the buzzer to give Troy a 26-8 lead at the break.
“The last two possessions of the first half were big,” Kopp said. “We didn’t play all that great in the second and it was 20-8 at that point, but Bailey hits a 3, we get a steal with nine seconds left and draw up a quick play to get Jordan a shot in the corner, and we ran the play to perfection. That gave us a bigger comfort zone going into the second half.”
Hess had 15 points by halftime while no other player had more than three at that point. She then kicked off the third quarter by sinking one more 3, the first strike in a 15-3 period as more Trojans got hot to give the team a 41-11 lead going into the fourth, and Troy put the game away easily.
Kayla Niswonger scored eight of her nine points in the second half, adding eight rebounds and six steals. Adkins had four points and four steals, Kaup had three points and four steals, Alaura Holycross had three points and eight rebounds, Short and Otstot each had three points and Maddy Taylor added two points and six rebounds.
All told, the Troy defense forced 34 turnovers — 22 of them on steals — and held the Indians to 5 for 22 from the field. Kelsey Magoteaux led the Indians with five points — three from the free throw line — and Lauren Williams and Carly Brown had three points each.
It was the lowest point total Troy had given up since a 45-15 win over Greenville last season on Dec. 20, 2014. The Trojans host Greenville Jan. 4.
“Kayla played really well in the second half,” Kopp said. “We had 22 steals as a team, Jenna and Kiyha had four, Maddy had three. One defense, we always have a number that we want to keep the other team under, and we definitely did that tonight.
“It was a long streak against Piqua. We’d lost the last three, and the girls took it personally. That was good to see. I was very proud of everyone’s effort.”
And as for Hess and where she goes after the career night, what happens following the breakout game?
“I hope it’s not the end,” she said.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.