By Josh Brown
GREENVILLE — Three victories. By a total of nine points.
And Wednesday’s Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division opener was the closest yet.
The Troy girls basketball team fought back from down five entering the final quarter, led by three in the final minute and were able to hold off a late charge by the Green Wave — thanks to an astounding effort on the glass by Alaura Holycross, Bailey Hess and Tia Bass and a late steal by Kiyha Adkins — in a 35-34 victory Wednesday night at Greenville.
“We were up by three with 20 seconds to go, and they had a full-court press on,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “We inbounded the ball, for some reason we decided to jump in the air and make a pass, we turned it over, they made a layup and suddenly it’s a one-point game. Fortunately, we were able to hold on. It was one of those games that was was back and forth.
“What I was most proud of is that we matched their physicality. Last Saturday (against Ponitz), we got outhustled and outrebounded, and that to me was the big turning point tonight. Alaura, Bailey and Tia took control of the boards in that fourth quarter, and that made a huge difference. Alaura took a charge, Kiyha got a steal — it was one of those back-and-forth battles, and I was just so proud of how all of the girls battled and fought and stuck together.”
And rebounding definitely made the biggest part of that difference.
The Trojans (3-0, 1-0 GWOC American North) collected an astounding 65 rebounds throughout the game, with three players grabbing double digits. Holycross had a triple-double of sorts, leading the Trojans with 15 points and adding 24 rebounds — 11 offensive and 13 defensive rebounds. Hess added five points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals and Bass had two points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Adkins added nine points, four steals and three assists, including a steal and layup that gave the Trojans that three-point cushion late in the fourth, and Jordan Short added four points.
The game could have been put away a lot earlier, though, had the Trojans shot freebies better. Troy again struggled from the free throw line, going 10 for 23 in the game — including 4 for 12 in the fourth quarter. Troy was also 12 for 46 (26.1 percent) from the field in the game, but the Trojan defense held Greenville (3-3, 1-1 GWOC American North) to a similarly tough offensive night.
“Down the stretch, we made plays. Unfortunately, we didn’t hit free throws,” Johnson said. “We executed and did the things we needed to do to put ourselves in a position to get fouls and ice the game. We just didn’t make those free throws when we needed to.
“But like I said, Kiyha’s steal to put us up three was huge. We were in a 2-3 zone, and she just read this pass and came from the opposite side of the floor, stole the ball, went up the left side and made a left-handed layup, and that was huge. Tia had four blocked shots, and three of those were in the fourth. That was huge, as well.”
Every huge contribution the Trojans got from every player led to the one-point win — and kept them unbeaten leading up to Saturday’s showdown at two-time defending division champion Sidney.
“We’re 1-0 in the North, and that was the gameplan going in. The other two games were kind of warmups. This was the first step,” Johnson said. “The energy and the effort was there as soon as the ball was tipped. Defense was the key today. Playing at Greenville, that’s a tough place to play. To get a win a Greenville, whether it’s one point or 30, that’s a huge success.”
VANDALIA — Piqua (1-4, 0-2 Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division) only trailed by five entering the fourth quarter Wednesday night at Butler, but the Aviators (4-1, 1-0 GWOC American North) put the game away with a 14-2 final quarter in a 39-22 victory, the Indians’ fourth straight loss.
Lily Stewart had seven points, Lauryn Gray had five points and five rebounds and Lauren Williams and Kelsey Magoteaux each scored four in the loss.
Piqua hosts Tippecanoe Saturday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.