By Josh Brown
TROY — The Troy girls basketball team’s leading scorer was held without a point, yet the Trojans hung tough through the first three quarters against undefeated Tippecanoe.
The Red Devils defense forced a whopping 24 turnovers, yet they struggled to find any success in transition against Troy’s fast-break defense and were held well below their offensive average this season.
Yet through all of the bizarre things to point out about Saturday’s Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division matchup, the Red Devils (7-0, 4-0 GWOC American North) still hit nine 3-pointers as a team and, led by Maddie Frederick’s game-high 15 points, controlled the action throughout and posted a 47-29 victory over Troy at the Trojan Activities Center.
Tippecanoe coach Andy Holderman probably summed the game up best.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words right now,” he said. “But a win’s a win’s a win at this point.”
Troy’s defense held Tippecanoe, the regional runner-up in Division II the past three years in a row, to its lowest point total since the Devils’ first game of the season, a 45-35 win over Miami East. With that game included, the Devils still came in averaging 62 points per game and have posted impressive non-league wins over those Vikings and talented Fairmont and Fort Loramie teams in addition to division play. Still, the Trojans (3-3, 1-3 GWOC American North) fought to the bitter end.
“Our gameplan was to win,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “We worked on different strategies and ideas that we thought would put us in a position to win. I love the way my girls competed, and I am so proud of how hard they competed. I told them that if we’d competed like this all season, this would be our first loss. I hope this is that turning point that gets us over the hump.
“Tipp is an incredibly talented group of young ladies. Coach Holderman does a heck of a job with them, and they have just absolute talent. But I was proud of how my girls competed against that. To hold them below their season average, I think that’s a testament to how hard my girls work defensively. But we continue to struggle offensively.”
Tippecanoe’s defense had something to do with Troy’s offensive struggles on Saturday, too, forcing 13 turnovers in the first half and holding the Trojans to only five field goals before the break. But neither team could score inside in the first quarter, with the teams combining for five 3-pointers and the Devils holding a slim 9-6 lead after one — but a 10-0 second-quarter run helped stake Tippecanoe out to a 24-14 halftime advantage.
“Defense is something we pride ourselves on,” Holderman said. “And taking a possession or two off in a quarter is something we’ve been stressing that we don’t want to happen. Those four-to-eight points in a quarter add up. Defensively, we kind of got away on a couple possessions where we gave them some uncontested 3-point looks, and we also had a couple situations where we were out hustling and the ball got kicked to the right spot for them, and they were able to take advantage.”
But Frederick hit three 3s and scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half to help the Devils survive those struggles and remain in control, with four different Tippecanoe players hitting 3s in the first half — and six different Devils connecting from long range in the game.
“It did (help),” Holderman said. “We’ve been preaching that sharing-the-ball concept. But again, at times I think we go away from that.”
But Troy’s defense never let the Devils run away with the game. The Trojans allowed only one fast-break layup in the game despite the number of live-ball turnovers that Tippecanoe created, contesting every shot in transition. Troy also outrebounded Tippecanoe 34-29 in the game and forced seven Devil turnovers.
“From scouting and watching tape, as soon as a shot would go up, we’d have a minimum of two girls going back on defense,” Johnson said. “Because if you get Frederick and (Allison) Mader going back in transition, they are tough to stop. Our goal was to stop that transition basket and make them earn it, and I think the girls did a nice job of that.”
Still, the Trojans could not turn those stops into points regularly enough to truly get back into the game. Tippecanoe built a 15-point lead in the third quarter, taking a 37-22 edge into the fourth, and the closest Troy got from there was 12.
“Their defensive pressure is intense,” Johnson said. “They do a great job of putting pressure on the ball and getting in passing alleys, and they do a great job of taking you out of your rhythm and system. And they did that to us today. We can’t simulate in practice. I can’t simulate that level of pressure and intensity in practice. But hopefully we’ll learn from this.”
Tia Bass finished with seven points and six rebounds to lead the Trojans, and Jordan Short hit two 3s and finished with six points. Lauren McGraw had four points and five rebounds off the bench, Kiyha Adkins and Erika Innes each had three points, Valena Robinson had two points, four rebounds and two assists and Dana Wynkoop and MaKenna Taylor each had two points. And though she was held scoreless, Alaura Holycross contributed five rebounds and two assists.
Frederick added five rebounds to her game-high 15 points for Tippecanoe, Cali Stewart had eight points and two assists, Mader had seven points, four rebounds and two assists, Kendall Clodfelter had five points and four rebounds off the bench, Brooke Aselage had five points, Chloe Schretzman had four points and five rebounds and Hailee Varvel had three points.
“It was a good win for us in that it was a conference win, but we definitely have some things that we can show on video that we can learn from,” Holderman said. “Being able to go back look on video and talk about things, I think, may be more beneficial than practicing at this point. We’ve got to get some things ironed out, but we’ll get there. It’s a process.”
Both teams are back in action at home Wednesday, with Tippecanoe hosting Butler and Troy hosting Piqua.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.