By Josh Brown
VANDALIA — As the final shot of the game fell right into his hands, well short of its mark, all Troy’s Zach Reichelderfer could think of was all the work that made it happen and what it meant for everyone around him.
“You put so much effort into the game, and once I got that last rebound, I knew the game was over, all energy just flushed out and it felt good,” he said. “I felt good for my teammates and the community of Troy. It was probably the best moment of the game.”
Reichelderfer scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the fourth, helping the Trojan boys basketball team rally from an eight-point deficit entering the quarter against Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division rival Butler. And with the Aviators making a comeback of their own late, even putting up a last-second 3-point attempt that could have won the game, Reichelderfer put the finishing touches on a double-double by grabbing the final rebound to seal a 61-59 Troy victory Friday night at Butler.
The win was the Trojans’ first on the season, as they improved to 1-2 overall and in the GWOC American North. Butler, meanwhile, dropped its first of the season and fell to 3-1, 1-1 in the GWOC American North.
“As a team, I feel like the locker room was very loud and positive, and the coach was very happy,” Reichelderfer said. “During the game, we were fired up. To put that much effort into a game, to put that much effort into practice before it, it means a lot to us to win our first game.”
The junior led the Trojans with 17 points and 11 rebounds on the night. With the score 47-39 entering the final quarter, he assisted on a 3 by Zion Taylor then took a feed from Hayden Kotwica and hit a 3 of his own, starting an 8-0 run to begin the fourth quarter and tie the score. Then he hit a series of free throws and converted a three-point play and Zach Boyer cashed in a pair of Butler turnovers to cap off a 10-0 run that gave the Trojans their biggest lead of the game, 61-52 with less than 1:30 remaining.
“(Reichelderfer) has really done a nice job,” Troy coach Paul Bremigan said. “We want him to be more offensive. We’d go through an entire scrimmage, and he’d take six, seven shots. He’s taken it to heart, and he’s getting more and more confident.”
But Butler didn’t go away.
A steal and layup by Tyler Burley and a putback by Miles Joiner after a steal cut the lead to five at 61-56 with 45 seconds to go, then another turnover led to a 3 by Trey Sanders that cut the lead to only two with 21.3 seconds on the clock. And the Aviators forced one more turnover at midcourt and called timeout with 10.8 seconds left to set up one final play.
“We knew we had to make them use some time bringing it up the floor. Even if it’s two seconds,” Bremigan said. “The first or second pass are pretty crucial — 10 seconds isn’t a lot of time. You get four dribbles and a pass, and usually the guy that catches that pass is going to have to shoot. We kind of banked on that, we got nice help defensively and he wasn’t able to go to the basket or draw a foul.”
Butler got that one pass into the hands of Joiner, who led the all scorers with 25 points and added seven rebounds on the night. But Troy had also drawn four charging calls on him throughout the night, making him hesitant to go all the way to the basket, and a pair of hands in his face were enough to force the miss on the potential game-tying shot. Bryant Johnson got the long rebound beyond the 3-point line and had the time to toss up one final desperation attempt, but it fell two feet short, and Reichelderfer wrapped up the rebound for the win.
“Our captains (Ryan McClurg, Kotwica and Keenan Kinnel) are very motivational,” Reichelderfer said. “Especially Hayden — Hayden kept me going, even though I had a bad second and third quarter. We got a spark, and we just went off.”
And to win a game in the final seconds in that fashion, every contribution that came before the end mattered.
McClurg scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half, hitting a pair of 3s and keeping Troy in it early — Butler led 30-29 at halftime. Kotwica finished with 10 points and three assists, Boyer had six points and 10 rebounds to help the Trojans outrebound the Aviators 33-29 and Taylor finished with five points, four assists and drew the fourth charging violation on Joiner that helped spur the go-ahead 10-0 run. Brenden Kinnel also added five points and Keenan Kinnel scored four.
“Zach (Boyer) and Hayden (Kotwica) both played a good game, Ryan hit some big shots for us in the first half,” Bremigan said. “We took some charges, three or four of them, on Joiner, and little things like that made a big difference. Everyone played well tonight in spurts.”
Burley and Johnson both scored eight points for Butler, which won the turnover battle by forcing 16 Troy turnovers while committing 13. Aaron Fields added six points, Michael Criell scored five, Quentin Glover had four and Sanders finished with three.
In the end, it all added up to a Troy win.
“It feels good, it feels good,” Bremigan said with a smile. “We played well against Sidney and Greenville, were right in the mix, gave up a bunch of turnovers, and you just can’t do that. We’ve just got to keep learning from our mistakes and keep moving forward.”
The Trojans remain on the road Saturday, traveling to Springfield Shawnee.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.