By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — After the third quarter, the outlook was bleak for the Troy Christian boys basketball team, as it sat trailing Franklin Monroe by seven points.
“We went almost the whole third quarter, seven minutes and 22 seconds, without a bucket, without scoring,” Troy Christian coach Ray Zawadzki said.
In the end, though, the Eagles outscored the Jets 19-10 in the game’s final eight minutes, with Connor Case hitting a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the fourth and Troy Christian hitting its free throws down the stretch to claim a 44-42 victory over Franklin Monroe in a hard-fought season opener Friday night at the Eagles’ Nest.
Troy Christian (1-0) didn’t fare well in either odd-numbered quarter, going 1 for 12 from the field in the first to begin the game down 12-6. The Eagles battled back in the second quarter to tie the score 22-22 at halftime, but the Jets (0-1) took a 32-25 lead into the fourth after Troy Christian’s scoring woes in the third.
But even while they weren’t scoring, the Eagles were doing everything possible to keep the Jets off the board, too.
“We had some stretches that were just rough offensively,” Zawadzki said. “But the thing that was solid was our defense for 32 minutes. When you’re playing a talent like (Franklin Monroe’s) Ethan Conley, you have to be solid. Any slip-up — and we had a few — he took advantage of and made us pay. After the game, we all felt like we did a marvelous job on him, and he still had a game-high 21 points.”
But Case led a balanced Troy Christian effort on offense with a career-high 14 points and four steals, with Izaak Frantom adding eight points and six steals and Brady Clawson chipping in eight points and five rebounds. Connor Peters came off the bench and added five points, six rebounds and six assists, Isaac Gray and Jordan Isenbarger both had four points and Jackson Kremer had one point and five rebounds as the Eagles did what they needed to pull out the win.
“In the end, we got a lead and they had to foul,” Zawadzki said. “We were able to get a piece of the paint on a couple drives, and Connor hit two big 3s for us in the fourth that opened up a five-point lead. From there, we just kept battling — we’d make free throws and Ethan would score. We’d make free throws and Ethan would score. That was how the last 1:30 went, but they never had a chance to tie or take the lead. We always stayed just ahead of them.
“Give my kids credit for knocking down some big free throws and shots late.”
The game broke a string of back-to-back overtime matchups between the two teams — last season, Troy Christian opened the year with a 58-54 overtime win at Franklin Monroe, and two years ago the Jets claimed a 68-65 overtime win in the opener.
“Every year, you can count on it,” Zawadzki said. “That’s why it’s a great opener for us. It’s always a competitive game, two good schools and teams that play hard and fair, and it’s just fun to watch and be a part of.”
Troy Christian travels to Springfield Catholic Central for another tough test on Tuesday.
BELLBROOK — With only one returning starter from last year and a host of players without much varsity experience, Bethel coach Brett Kopp was happy with what he saw out of his team in the end in its season opener Friday night against a veteran Bellbrook team.
“It was refreshing,” Kopp said. “It was something else. They’re (Bellbrook) supposed to win their league this year, and we’ve kind of got Kendal (James) and a bunch of newbies.”
The Bees trailed by five going into the final quarter but spread out the scoring all night long, with James — the only starter back from last season — leading the way in a 49-46 victory over the Golden Eagles on the road on opening night.
James scored 14 points to lead Bethel (1-0), Ethan Rimkus added 10 points, Cade Young scored eight, Nick Schmidt had seven, Jared Evans scored six and Dylan Williams scored four.
The Bees trailed 12-9 at the end of the first quarter but tied the score 23-23 at halftime, only to fall behind again at 36-31 entering the fourth. But Bethel outscored Bellbrook (0-1) 18-10 in the final quarter to seal the win.
“We struggled hitting shots for a while and had way too many turnovers early,” Kopp said. “But once we kind of understood what we wanted to do against what they were doing to us, we had some success. And we hit some free throws late which, was not good early (8 for 14 on the night).
“Kendal didn’t shoot it well, but he did enough to lead us, had six or seven rebounds and assists, too. That’s the kind of game he’s going to have to have throughout the year. Three of those guys — Young, Williams and Rimkus — had never played a varsity minute before, so it was nice to see them help out the way they did.
Bethel travels to Tippecanoe Tuesday.
Miami East 64
SPRINGFIELD — Miami East battled with Northwestern all night long in Friday’s season opener on the road, briefly taking the lead in the third quarter and even tying the score with one minute to play, but in the end the Warriors were able to hold on for a 67-64 victory.
Brendon Bertsch led the Vikings (0-1) with a game-high 25 points — 13 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Will Hudson added 13 points, hitting a 3-pointer in the third that gave East the lead for a short time, and Parker Heim added 11 points. Sam Zapadka scored nine points and Wes Sutherly chipped in six.
Northwestern (1-0) took a 19-13 lead after the first quarter and maintained that lead at 32-26 at the half. Even after the Vikings pulled ahead in the third quarter, the Warriors fought back to hold a 48-44 lead entering the fourth and were able to hold off East from there.
TIPP CITY — Tippecanoe kicked off the season with a tall order Friday night, facing last year’s Greater Western Ohio Conference American North co-champion Sidney, and even though the Red Devils stayed within eight points at halftime, the Yellow Jackets outscored them 47-29 in the second half to pull away and hand Tippecanoe a 75-49 defeat.
Nolan Mader led the Devils (0-1, 0-1 GWOC American North) with 22 points, Ben Sauls scored 12 points and Zach Frederick added eight points.
Tippecanoe continues its three-game homestand to begin the season Tuesday, hosting Bethel.
Other scores: Middletown Christian 76, Bradford (0-1) 30.
* Girls Basketball
NEW LEBANON — Kristen Dickison scored a game-high 30 points, leading three Bulldogs in double figures as the Milton-Union girls basketball team opened the season with a Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division win at Dixie, 60-39.
Dickison had five assists to go with her 30 points, Olivia Brown posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Morgan Grudich had 10 points and three rebounds to pace the Bulldogs (1-0, 1-0 SWBL Buckeye), who jumped out to a 25-5 lead after one quarter over Dixie (0-3, 0-2 SWBL Buckeye) and never looked back.
Milton-Union hosts Twin Valley South Tuesday.
Miami East 41,
West Liberty-Salem 32
CASSTOWN — Miami East took control in the second half and held on from there thanks to a 75 percent effort from the free throw line, holding off West Liberty-Salem 41-32 in its home opener Saturday.
Morgan Haney led the Vikings (3-1) with 21 points, Maria Staton added 11 and Camryn Miller scored six as East went 12 for 16 from the free throw line on the day. The Tigers led 10-9 after one quarter, but East claimed an 18-14 halftime lead and led 29-24 after three.
Miami East hosts Tri-County North Thursday.
CEDARVILLE — With four of its starters unavailable to play Saturday, the Troy girls basketball team suffered its first loss of the season in a 57-18 defeat at Cedarville.
Chamber Browning led the Trojans (2-1) with six points.
Troy travels to Sidney Wednesday.
Other scores: Versailles 68, Covington 35. Piqua 39, Bellefontaine 36.
SPRINGFIELD — The Covington wrestling team kicked off the season by winning all three of its duals on the first day of the Northeastern Invitational, defeating Springfield Shawnee 66-15, Northwestern 75-6 and Waynesville 78-6 heading into Saturday’s competition.
Going undefeated for the Buccaneers were: Devin Newhouse (106), Kellan Anderson (113, one pin), Cael Vanderhorst (120, three pins), Connor Sindelir (126, two pins, Riley Richards (132, three pins), Austin Flick (145), Keringten Martin (152, two pins), Gavin Swank (152, one pin), Bryce Smith (152, one pin), Duncan Cooper (170, three pins), Gavin McReynolds (182, three pins), Gage Kerrigan (195, one pin) and Jesse Fisher (220, one pin).
Caleb Miller (138), Dylan Burns (160) and Ricky Stephan (182) all won two matches by pinfall, and Fletcher Metz (145) and Dylan Staudt (220) each won two matches. David Robinson (145), Jensen Wagoner (160), Tyler Bauer (160) and Seth Iddings (170) all won once via pinfall and Clayton Stephan (285) picked up a win.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.