By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
SIDNEY — In her first two varsity games, Troy freshman point guard Macie Taylor took some time to get the jitters out.
“It was hard starting at first, but I adjusted to it,” she said. “My team’s really helped me out a lot. I was really nervous at first, and that’s why the last few games I’d started off kind of bad. This was really the first game where I got in the groove from the start, and I think I’ve settled into it now.”
Wednesday night was proof positive of that.
Taylor hit three straight 3s in the game’s opening five minutes and scored 13 of her game-high 18 points in the first quarter alone, setting the tone for the rest of the Trojans, who backed her up by getting eight different players on the board and completely shut down Sidney defensively in a 56-22 victory over the Yellow Jackets in Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play Wednesday on the road.
With the win, the Trojans improved to 3-1 and 2-0 in the GWOC American North, while Sidney fell to 0-5 and 0-3 in division play. And for Troy, the hot start is a good sign — last season, the team hovered around the .500 mark all season, never being more that two games up or down before finishing the year 12-10.
“One of the team’s goals is having a winning record, and we’re off to a good start,” Taylor said. “I know last year, that wasn’t really the case, so it’s good to see — and I’m just really glad that I can contribute.”
And with the team breaking the 50-point mark for the second time already this season and now boasting the second-best offense to go with the second-best defense in the division through four games, third-year Troy coach Aaron Johnson likes what he sees.
“To be honest with you, we haven’t had many games where we’re up 25 at the half,” he said. “We’re trying to learn how to play with the lead. One of the things I emphasized is that we still have to execute, and I thought we executed better tonight. I thought we came out in the third quarter and did not come out flat — that’s a credit to those young ladies in the locker room. We came out and still played hard, and I saw some pretty good execution of some things.
“Sidney is a good team. They lost their senior leader within the week, and that’s a traumatic event. And you could tell. But they’ll find their way — the second time we play them, it’s not going to be like this.”
It was clear from the start Wednesday how this meeting was going to be.
Macie Taylor hit a pull-up 3 on the game’s opening possession, then Sidney’s Cassidy Truesdale answered with a jumper to make it 3-2. But Troy scored the next 14 points from there, including two more 3s by Taylor, a pair of buckets inside by Lauren McGraw, another bucket inside by Tia Bass and a steal-and-layup by Taylor to put Troy up 17-2 — and the Trojans held a 19-4 lead after one quarter.
“To come out against the zone and hit three 3s like that, and then to pound the ball inside the next couple possessions, that’s that inside-out play that we’ve been looking forward to seeing this year. I’m not sure in my tenure that we’ve ever shot a team out of a zone and made them play us man. I don’t know that we’ve ever executed so well against the zone that we made them switch to man. But that did happen tonight.”
Macie Taylor had 13 of those points in the first quarter and 15 by halftime, with Bass scoring all six of her points in the first half and adding five rebounds and three blocked shots to help the Trojans take a 30-5 lead at the break. In the second quarter, Sidney only managed to score on a free throw by Hallie Truesdale with 4.1 seconds remaining in the half.
“I was really proud of Tia,” Johnson said. “You could tell that their gameplan was to try to draw charges on her, but her maturity showed. Last year, I think that would have affected her, but this year it didn’t seem to bother her mentally. She stayed focused. As a post player, when that girl falls, for a second you’re waiting to hear that whistle, but I thought she played through that really well today.”
Troy then continued to play well in the third quarter, outscoring the Jackets 22-3 with a constantly-changing lineup. MaKenna Taylor scored all nine of her points in the second half as everyone got in on the act.
Taylor Roop added seven points and six rebounds, Morgan Kaiser had six points and six rebounds, Laura Borchers had four points and seven rebounds, McGraw finished with four points and Erika Innes had two points.
“It’s a team thing,” Johnson said. “There’s going to come a time where everyone is relied on, and everyone is going to have to be able to step up and contribute. It’s a long season, and we’re trying to get 13 girls ready for this long stretch. I think we can be very successful and contend for the American North, but we need 13 girls ready to contribute to do that. The three-headed snake can win some games, but there’s going to come a time where we need five, six, seven more to step in and pick them up.
“We’re getting there. I think we’re getting there. We’ve seen some girls in some key situations, and they’re starting to respond. We’re pleased.”
Peyton Wiley led Sidney off the bench with eight points , all in the second half. Cassidy Truesdale had six points, Hallie Truesdale had four points and seven rebounds, Emma Wiford had two points and nine rebounds and Allie Herrick had two points.
After its four-game road trip to begin the season, Troy gets a test on Saturday in its home opener, hosting 3-0 Bethel in a 3:30 p.m. start.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.