By Josh Brown
TROY — After 2016, casting blame on measures of time is a popular thing to do.
Tuesday night, the Troy boys basketball team continued to build a case against, well, Tuesday nights.
The Trojans (4-6, 2-4 Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division) lost for the five consecutive time in five Tuesday games, falling behind early against visiting Fairborn and never found any kind of rhythm, falling 73-58 in GWOC American League crossover play at the Trojan Activities Center.
“I don’t know what to do. Can’t change the calendar,” Troy coach Paul Bremigan said. “It’s real frustrating. I don’t have an answer for you. If I had an answer, I’d fix it.
“We’ve got nine, 10 guys that can play, and one thing we need to do is compete. And we didn’t compete tonight. That’s what’s most frustrating of all. Fairborn just had their way with us and did whatever they wanted.”
Last season, Fairborn’s (4-6, 4-2 GWOC American South) Branden Lilly had a monstrous game, hitting eight 3s and scoring 39 points — but the Trojans were able to survive by shutting everyone else down in a 54-53 victory. But Tuesday, four Skyhawk players were in double figures and six scored eight or more points in a much more balanced effort, and the Fairborn defense frustrated Troy’s offense all night, holding the five Trojan starters to a combined total of 15 points.
“All of their kids played well,” Bremigan said. “They all took it to us. They had two or three sophomores in there that played well for them. They played like they wanted to win, and they did.”
A pair of 3s by Lilley were the only field goals in the first quarter for Fairborn, but Troy didn’t fare much better, not connecting from 3-point range and only scoring three field goals itself. A Ryan McClurg free throw tied the score at 4-4, but Lilley hit a 3 and Brandon Easterling followed a steal with an offensive rebound and two free throws to make it 9-4, but Zach Boyer converted a pair of steals for fast-break layups to keep the Trojans close, 9-8 after one.
After Fairborn took a 14-10 lead early in the second, the Trojans went cold from the floor and couldn’t keep the Skyhawks off the boards, and Troy’s opponent capitalized with a 10-0 run to take complete control. Easterling grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds and eventually hit a pair of free throws, K.J. Redmon hit a 3, Easterling converted a three-point play and a steal led to a layup by Shaunn Monroe, and Fairborn held a 24-10 lead before Zach Reichelderfer hit a pair of free throws to end the run. Lilley canned another 3 to make it 27-12, but McClurg answered with a 3 — Troy’s first field goal of the quarter — to make it 27-15 with 3:55 until halftime.
Fairborn built a 33-19 lead, but Troy began to show signs of life. Keenan Kinnel hit a pair of free throws after fighting for two offensive rebounds, then Hayden Kotwica hit Devon Larger with a cross-court pass, and Larger drilled a 3 to cut the lead to single digits at 33-24. Zach Boyer scored to get the lead down to seven, Monroe cashed in a steal to extend the lead again, then Larger hit two free throws to make the score 35-28 at the break.
A bucket by McClurg on the first possession of the second half got Troy to within five at 35-30, but that was as close as the Trojans would get. An 11-1 run pushed the lead back out to 46-31, the Trojans hit back-to-back baskets to get it back to 11 but a 3 by Redmon kicked off an 8-2 burst to end the quarter and make the score 54-37 heading into the fourth.
The Trojans began the fourth strong, with Boyer converting a three-point play on a putback and Zion Taylor finishing a fast break after a steal, but Jarod Bodekor hit a 3 to answer the run. Taylor converted two more turnovers with transition layups to get the lead down to 57-46, but Fairborn scored the next seven straight to pull away once more and seal the win.
“In that situation, you’re gambling,” Bremigan said. “You get two or three steals, but then you gamble and don’t get it and give up a layup. Sometimes that can be a little bit of fool’s gold. Sometimes you’re hoping to rattle the opposition enough to where you can come back. We wanted to try to get it down to single digits in the fourth quarter, and we couldn’t do that.”
Easterling led Fairborn with 14 points and six rebounds, and Monroe, Lilley and Redmon each scored 13 points. Bodekor added nine points and seven rebounds, Jacob Webb had eight points and six rebounds and Omar Inman had three points.
Taylor led Troy with 13 points — 11 of those coming in the second half — and Boyer had 12 points and six rebounds, both off the bench. McClurg was the only starter in double figures with 11 points, Larger added nine points, Reichelderfer and Keenan Kinnel had four points apiece, Brednen Kinnel had three point and Jacob Martinez had two points.
Fairborn won the battle of the boards 34-26 and forced 24 turnovers while committing 21 itself, and the Skyhawks outshot the Trojans from 3-point range in the game, hitting eight total to Troy’s season-low two.
“We had some pretty uncharacteristic performances from some people,” Bremigan said. “Like I said, when guys can settle into their roles and realize what they can do and what they’re capable of, that’ll help us.”
As may playing on any night but a Tuesday, sitting at 0-5 with four more Tuesday games left this season.
Only one of Troy’s losses have been on any other night, a loss to Greenville in the Trojans’ opener on a Friday. Troy is 4-1 in games that take place on either Thursday, Friday or Saturday night — and they’re back in action on Friday night, traveling to Stebbins for another GWOC American South crossover game.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.