By Josh Brown
TROY — The Troy Christian girls basketball team knew Piqua could knock down open shots.
So the Eagles simply didn’t give them any.
Troy Christian held the Indians without a field goal in the first half, building a 17-point lead after the first quarter. And after Piqua trimmed that lead a little from the free throw line in the second quarter, the Eagles cut down on their bad fouls in the second half and took the game over for good, pulling away for a 59-22 victory in its season opener Tuesday at the Eagles’ Nest.
Piqua (1-1), which went 9 for 19 from the free throw line in the first half to stay alive down 25-9 at halftime, didn’t hit a field goal until Lily Stewart scored in the paint with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter. By then, though, the score was 34-11 after the Eagles opened the second half on a 9-0 run, and Troy Christian kept pulling away until the end.
“Piqua is a good club, they won their first game, and ,” Troy Christian coach Tony Ferraro said. “The key was that we played real good close-out defense, so they didn’t have any open shots. When we watched them play Friday night, they made all their open shots, so our goal was not to give them any open shots and we’ll see what they can do against us.
“I think they’ll win a lot of ballgames this year. They’ve got a lot of good shooters. We just didn’t let them have open shots.”
The Eagles (1-0), on the other hand, took advantage of most of its first-quarter chances.
Sarah Earhart scored all six of her points during a 13-1 run to open the game, and Kenley Blake hit a 3, drew a foul and converted the four-point play to push the lead to 15. A Lauryn Lavy putback at the buzzer made the score 19-2 after the opening quarter.
In the second, though, Troy Christian committed foul after foul while chasing loose balls and rebounds, sending the Indians to the free throw line 14 times. Kelsey Magoteaux was 5 for 6 to lead the way, and Piqua stayed within relative striking distance at 25-9.
“It was opening night, and we had some jitters early,” Ferraro said. “It’s nice to jump on a team like we did in the first quarter. We made a couple mistakes on the defensive end and put them on the foul line. But I thought when we put defensive pressure on people and didn’t foul — because some of our fouls were not smart fouls — in the second half, we did a real good job. We had a little talk at halftime and did a much better job.”
The Eagles hit the floor running in the third.
Kathryn Lee converted a three-point play in transition after a steal, then Blake stole the ball and cashed in a three-point play of her own to make it 31-9. Morgan Taylor then stole the ball and got it to Blake, who hit Lee for another fast-break bucket, and one more steal led to a Blake free throw that made it 34-9 before the Indians finally were able to connect from the field. From there, the Eagles took a 44-17 lead after three quarters and put the game away from there.
Lee finished with a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds and added four assists, while Blake had 16 points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists. Lavy came off the bench to throw in 14 points and added seven rebounds. All told, the Eagles had 25 field goals — with those coming on 22 assists as a team.
The Eagles also piled up 28 steals as a team, with Taylor leading the way with seven steals and four assists despite not scoring. Earhart had six points and seven rebounds, Cara Salazar added three points, four steals, seven rebounds and five assists, Erin Schenk had two points and three assists and Jalyn Forrer had two points.
“That’s real good balanced scoring. And the kids that didn’t score were passing,” Ferraro said. “When your backcourt comes up with 12 steals, it’s obvious that we covered the passing lanes pretty well. I think our pressure made it tough on them.
“I play a lot of people, and I try to keep everybody fresh. I try not to play anyone too long, because sometimes when you foul, they’re fatigue fouls. When you’re fresh, you go back to what you’ve learned and do the fundamentals and basics.”
Magoteaux led the Indians with seven points, Stewart finished with all six of her points coming in the second half and Skylar Sloan and Lauren Williams each scored three points as Piqua finished with five field goals on the night and a 12 for 24 showing from the free throw line.
Troy Christian travels to Middletown Christian for its first Metro Buckeye Conference matchup of the season, while Piqua travels to Bellefontaine Saturday.
Other scores: Legacy Christian 55, Lehman 32.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.