By Josh Brown
TROY — The Troy girls basketball team is learning that when one thing falls into place, then the next thing follows.
And the next. And the next.
The Trojans (8-7, 3-6 Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division) played tough defense throughout Saturday’s game against visiting West Carrollton, got their post players involved early offensively to open up their outside shooters later and dominated the glass in a 48-27 victory over the Pirates in GWOC American League crossover play at the Trojan Activities Center.
“I think we’re starting to put some pieces together and not just become that one-dimensional team,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “I thought we shot a little bit better, we went 8 for 13 from the free throw line. It’s great to establish Alaura (Holycross) and Tia (Bass) down low early, because it opens up some outside things and some penetration. Pieces are coming together.”
It began with Troy’s defense, which allowed only three 2-point field goals in the entire game and forced 22 turnovers, with the Trojans only committing 13 themselves. Troy also outrebounded West Carrollton 36-23 in the game, with three players collecting seven or more rebounds — and nine Trojans contributed offensively in the game, as well.
Johnson said that every last bit of that was aided by the way Troy ran its offense.
“Part of what helped our defense tonight — and part of what killed us against Trotwood and some of our other losses — is we actually started to execute offensively,” he said. “Through that execution, we get shots in system, and when we get shots in system, we’ve got people in the right position to get some offensive rebounds and to get back and protect defensively.
“We had a few moments where we were out of system, but the young ladies executed really well today. And running that offense through, they’re starting to get a little confidence in that and understand that, it may be a seven- or eight-pass possession, but we’ll get a good look. That is how we’re going to have to play. We’re not going to be that up-and-down team.”
West Carrollton — which lost its eighth straight and fell to 2-13 but still has been a much more competitive team than last season — still fought hard, though, hitting six 3-pointers over the course of the game to stay alive. The Pirates even took an 8-5 lead early after a 3 by Kayli Feltner, but Jenna Kaup tied the score with a 3 of her own, Holycross hit a pair of free throws after a series of offensive rebounds to give the lead back to Troy and Bass scored inside at the buzzer to put the Trojans up 12-8 after one quarter.
Bass scored on a putback to start the second before Feltner hit another 3 to end the 9-0 run and make the score 14-11, but that was as close as things would get from there. Bass scored another second-chance bucket to make it 16-11 and kick off another nine-point run that put the Trojans up 23-11, and a steal and layup by Jordan Short right before halftime gave Troy a 26-15 lead at the break.
“They hit a lot of 3s and shot the ball well,” Johnson said. “Some of those, we were a little out of position, but some of those, they just made great shots. I’ve got to give them credit. They executed their offense and got some open looks. But normally, if we can limit a team to six 3s and three 2s … we’ll take that.”
Troy’s lead continued to grow throughout the second half, too, as it closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 35-17 lead, then the Trojans steadily pulled away in the fourth, claiming its biggest lead of the game after a MaKenna Taylor 3 for the final score of the game.
Holycross finished with a game-high 13 points and eight rebounds, Bass added eight points and seven rebounds, Jordan Short finished with seven points and seven steals and Bailey Hess, though she did not score, grabbed seven more rebounds. Gabbi Johnson and Kiyha Adkins each had four points and four Trojans — Kaup, Lauren McGraw, Taylor and Velena Robinson — had three points apiece.
Troy faces another tough test Monday night, hosting Tri-Village — the No. 1 team in the state in Division IV — as a makeup game from the shortened Barnball Classic tournament earlier in the season. The Trojans then travel to Xenia Wednesday and return home Saturday to face GWOC American North Division rival Greenville.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.