By Josh Brown
SIDNEY — The Troy girls basketball team finally ran out of fourth-quarter magic.
The problem was that it happened early in the third quarter against Sidney.
Celena Taborn scored 18 of her game-high 23 points in the second half as the Yellow Jackets turned a three-point lead at the break into a 54-31 victory over the Trojans in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play Saturday in Sidney, Troy’s first loss after three narrow victories to begin the season.
Troy (3-1, 1-1 GWOC American North), which had won its first three games by a combined nine points and all on clutch plays in the closing seconds, lost for the 10th straight time against Sidney. The two-time defending division champion Jackets (2-3, 1-1 GWOC American North), meanwhile, snapped a brief tw0-game losing streak.
“We gave up 18 points at half, then they score 20 points in the third quarter,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “I would have thought, going in at half down by three even though we weren’t playing well … I was somewhat excited, thinking we’d come out on fire in the second half. We didn’t play well and were only down three points — then, for some reason, we came out flatter than we started the game.
“We committed 23 turnovers, and you’re never going to win a basketball game with 23 turnovers.”
The Trojans didn’t let Taborn, Sidney’s force in the post, hurt them early, allowing the Jackets to instead miss 3-point attempt after attempt. Troy still struggled offensively, though, but a four-point play by Bailey Hess tied the game at 6-6, then Hess set up a 3 by Alaura Holycross to give the Trojans a 9-7 lead after the first quarter.
After Taborn gave the Jackets the lead early in the second, a pair of free throws by Kiyha Adkins allowed Troy to briefly retake the lead at 11-10. But Alina Kindle and Carrie Nuss hit back-to-back 3s to put Sidney up 16-11. A jumper by Hess was the Trojans’ first field goal of the quarter with 1:20 left before the half, and a bucket inside by Tia Bass kept Troy within striking distance at 18-15 at the break.
After halftime, though, Taborn took over.
“To Sidney’s credit, they hit some key shots,” Johnson said. “We tried that first half to double team and make sure Celena had two people on her at all times. They came out and hit some big shots, and that hurts. Then we have to adjust what we’re doing so they don’t get those wide-open shots, and when you do that … Celena’s a dominating force in the post. She did what she’s supposed to do and took advantage of what we couldn’t stop.”
A jumper by Jordan Short to kick off the third got the Trojans to within one at 18-17 — but that was the closest Troy would get. A 3 by Nuss opened up Taborn for a bucket on the next possession and kicked off a 9-2 run that gave Sidney control. The Jackets led by 11 after three, outscoring Troy 20-12 in the quarter.
“We came out in the third, put a little press on and got a couple of turnovers but missed some easy baskets,” Johnson. “One of our downfalls as been shooting (12 for 38 from the field Saturday), and those are points that we have to have in a game like this, a league game. Offensively, we didn’t execute to my liking. We need to move the ball a bit more. We need to understand that, when the outside shot is working, that’s when we need to get to the basket or draw some contact. We can’t just keep launching 3s when they’re not falling.”
Troy’s struggles only intensified in the fourth. Sidney pulled away even more, going on an 18-0 run that began late in the third quarter and not allowing Troy to score until there was one minute left in the game to put it away.
Taborn finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, one of three Yellow Jackets in double digits. Nuss finished with 11 points and Kindle added 10, Kiara Miller had eight points and six rebounds and Hayley Powers had two points.
Adkins scored eight points and had two assists to lead Troy, Hess had six points, six rebounds and two assists, Short had five points, Bass had four points and three rebounds, Holycross had three points and five rebounds, Alyse Holter and MaKenna Taylor each had two points and Jenna Kaup had one point and two assists.
The Trojans will need to bounce back in a hurry — they travel to Butler Wednesday for another division matchup.
“I’m hoping this will be a learning experience,” Johnson said. “Starting out 3-0, sometimes you don’t see the need for improvement. You think that we’re okay where we’re at. But we cannot have 23 turnovers, 23 opportunities where we don’t get a shot off.
“This may be the eye opener, the wakeup call. We come in Monday, and we fix some of these issues by Wednesday.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter