By Luke Severt
For the Troy Daily News
PIQUA — Large, fanatical crowds on each side, cheering for their team in an intense, hard-fought battle.
That is the epitome of the Troy-Piqua rivalry, regardless the sport in which the teams are competing.
Fortunately for the Troy boys basketball team, this matchup will be one that they can look back at in triumph, as the Trojans prevailed against the Indians and secured a 51-48 victory on Friday night at Piqua High School.
“Beating Piqua always feels good. We haven’t beaten them at their place in a while, so that makes it even better. We were really anticipating this game, so we’re happy with the win,” Troy senior Zach Reichelderfer said. “I think everyone played well as a team tonight, defensively and offensively. The effort was always there, and I feel like everyone did their part. Piqua always plays hard against us, and we always play hard against Piqua, and it was a good game.”
And while it was a battle until the very end, the game can be summarized as a series of momentum swings rather than a back-and-forth battle. Each time one of the teams gained momentum, it was reflected by the roar of the section of the stands devoted to them.
The Indians won the opening tip-off and found junior Qurri Tucker with an open look from beyond the arc, a shot that he swished to give Piqua the game’s first points. He would sink another one just a minute later, and he quickly sent the Piqua home-crowd into a frenzy.
Little did they know that it would be about five minutes before they again had something to cheer about. The Trojans, and their fans, exploded as the team went on a dominant 15-0 run that included eight points from Reichelderfer. And to add salt to the wound, one of Piqua’s key players, senior Ben Schmiesing, who leads the GWOC in rebounding, picked up his third foul with 1:30 left in the opening quarter. He did not see the court again until the start of the second half.
Late in the first quarter, Piqua began to pick things up, as Tucker had five points in the last minute. The Indians were able to ride a 7-0 run into end of the quarter and extend it to 11-0 in the second quarter. Troy’s Caillou Monroe hit a 3 with five minutes left to play in the second to halt the Piqua offense and kickstart a 12-5 Trojan charge to end the half at 31-22 Troy.
It was evident that much of the scoring on the night would be coming in a duel between Reichelderfer and Tucker, as the pair each scored 13 in the opening half.
“I thought we played pretty well in the first half,” Troy head coach Paul Bremigan said. “We did a really good job defensively, for the most part. We put pressure on them and forced them to make shots.”
After a Reichelderfer layup to start the second half, the tables started to turn. Piqua scored eight in a row to cut the lead to only three points at 33-30, leading to a Troy timeout with just over five minutes left to play in the third quarter. After the timeout, Monroe scored a fast-break layup off of a steal. Piqua scored the next four points to end the quarter, but Troy still held onto a 35-34 lead.
The Trojans were outscored 12-4 in the third, with eight of Piqua’s 12 coming from the free throw line, in eight attempts.
“In the third quarter, we just didn’t make some shots and didn’t really play as a team,” Bremigan said. “We tried to play too much one-on-one defensively. We needed to expand our lead starting out the third quarter, but we struggled to do that. They just came back, and they made about eight or 10 free throws in a row at one point, I think.”
The Trojans exploded out of the gate in the fourth, as Reichelderfer scored two quick buckets off of beautiful assists from Jacob Martinez and Brayden Siler. After a few minutes of back and forth, the Indians trailed by three with roughly four-and-a-half minutes left in the game. Then, after solid ball movement around the perimeter, they found junior Mick Karn at the top of the key with an open look. He sunk a 3-point basket, and Troy was forced to take a timeout as the crowd roared.
The timeout proved helpful for Troy, as it scored six quick points on two buckets from Martinez and a Reichelderfer putback. Over the next minute, the game was flooded with free throws. Troy converted on three of its four, Piqua on three of six, and it was a five-point game as the final minute approached.
A Tucker layup brought the Indians within three, making it a one-possession game with 58 seconds left on the clock. That would end up being the last score of the game, as sloppy play down the stretch for both teams failed to produce any offense. In an attempt to stay alive, Piqua fouled Reichelderfer, but he missed the first shot of a one-and-one. Piqua got the ball back but missed a layup, leading to an impressive Reichelderfer rebound, soaring over Piqua’s big men. He was fouled on the way down, and was sent to the line, but failed to convert.
Piqua had about 10 seconds and the ball to look for a three-point play and send the game to overtime. They were able to find senior Hayden Schrubb beyond the arc with an open shot, but it was off mark. Piqua had a few opportunities for the putback, but it could not convert. Schmiesing tossed up an attempted layup as the buzzer sounded, but it would not fall — and Troy came up victorious.
Reichelderfer finished the game with 23 points, leading the Trojans. Monroe added nine, Martinez scored eight, Cole Brogan had six, Siler hit a 3 and Sam Shaneyfelt scored a basket.
Tucker and Karn led the Indians with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
With the win, the Trojans move to 3-2 against the Indians in Bremigan’s tenure as coach, now in his third season. It was the first time in his three years that he has travelled to Piqua and escaped with a win.
“If it’s a rivalry, I’m all for it. I’ve been here three years, and I realize what the Troy-Piqua matchup means,” Bremigan said. “I thought both teams played hard, both teams played clean, and we came out on top. We’ll see them again in three weeks, at our place.”
The teams will face off again on Feb. 16 at the Trojan Activities Center, the last game of both team’s seasons. With the win, Troy improves to 5-5 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division and 7-8 overall. The Indians fall to 3-5 in conference play and 6-9 overall.
Next, the Trojans will return home Tuesday to face Greenville, a team that has yet to win a game against conference opponents and suffered a 40-point loss to Troy on Dec. 8, 2017.