By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Compared to other teams in the area, the Troy Christian girls basketball team got off to a late start, not playing its first game until Thursday night — nearly a full week after the start of the season.
Once they were on the court, though, the Eagles showed no signs of starting slow.
Troy Christian shut out Middletown Christian in the first quarter with its suffocating defense and scored the first 25 points of the game, using a balanced scoring attack to go with that strong defensive effort in a 57-6 victory in the team’s season and Metro Buckeye Conference opener Thursday at the Eagles’ Nest.
The Eagles (1-0, 1-0 MBC) held Middletown Christian (1-1, 0-1 MBC) scoreless until Ari Pagnard hit a jumper with 51 seconds remaining in the first half — but Troy Christian led 25-0 by then. In the first quarter, Middletown only was able to attempt three fields goals as Troy Christian forced 10 turnovers to build a 10-0 lead after one, and at halftime the Eagles held a 27-2 lead.
“What we pride ourselves on is our defense, especially in the half court,” Troy Christian coach Tony Ferraro said. “We seemed to get a hand up every time they were trying to shoot. I don’t think we gave them a clear shot all night.
“When you jump out on a team like we did, it’s just really nice to start off your season like that. They were coming off of an eight-point win (39-32 over Stivers) on Tuesday. But from early on, I think we did a pretty good job on both ends of the basketball court.”
And leading the way offensively for Troy Christian was a freshman, 6-foot-1 post Sarah Johnson. After only scoring two points in the first quarter, Johnson took over in the second, scoring eight more in the point to give her 10 points by halftime — and she finished with a game-high 18 points, the only player from either side in double figures on the night.
“I thought the kids did a nice job looking for her,” Ferraro said. “They tried to get her the basketball in a shooting position, and I was real pleased. Seems like we have a very unselfish basketball team. When your juniors and seniors are feeding a freshman to get her some points, that’s really helpful for a coach. It makes your outlook for the season be pretty positive.”
She wasn’t Troy Christian’s only weapon, though.
Erin Schenk hit two of the Eagles’ four 3-pointers, scored six of her nine points in the second half and added two assists, Cara Salazar — one of the team’s two seniors — scored the game’s first five points and finished with seven points and two assists, Sydney Taylor added seven points and Morgan Taylor did a bit of everything with six points, a team-high seven rebounds and four assists.
Jalyn Forrer — the team’s other senior — chipped in five points, four rebounds and two assists, Sarah Earhart had two points, four rebounds and two assists, Chelsea Baker had two points and Megan Baker had one point as all nine players that saw time on the floor on the night got into the scorebook.
“Again, that’s good basketball when everyone is getting themselves on the scoreboard,” Ferraro said. “The biggest key was I felt we moved the ball very well on the offensive end, looking for open people. You look for a good shot and end up getting a great shot with that extra pass, and I felt we did a good job of that.”
For Middletown Christian, Ellie Veal had two points and five rebounds, Pagnard finished with two points and Hannah Pohl and Sarah Spahr each scored one point. Troy Christian won the battle of the boards 33-28 on the night and forced 37 turnovers while committing 15.
Now Troy Christian goes on the road for two games, traveling to Southeastern on Monday for a tough early-season test before returning to MBC play Dec. 6 at Jefferson.
“Southeastern is perennially a strong team,” Ferraro said. “We knew when we scheduled them that we wanted someone really strong in early December to see where we are. It’s nice to get a league win today, but I think we’re going to get a real test on Monday to see where we are and where we have to go — and I think the kids welcome that kind of thing.”
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.