By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — After the Troy boys basketball team retook the lead for the first time since the opening quarter with 1:30 to play, Bellefontaine’s Donovan Dinovo hit his team’s ninth 3 of the night to put the Chieftains back up by one with 24 seconds left.
Jack Clement then swatted away a potential game-tying layup from behind with 13 seconds left, and then he grabbed the rebound on a go-ahead 3 attempt with 7.6 seconds left.
In the end, the Trojans — who battled all night despite one of its worst long-range shooting efforts of the season and were able to erase a 10-point first-half deficit to give themselves a chance to win late — simply didn’t make as many big, clutch plays as Bellefontaine in a 65-62 loss, Troy’s second straight after a three-game winning streak, to begin the new calendar year Wednesday at the Trojan Activities Center.
When it mattered most, Troy (4-4) — which spent most of the game hitting acrobatic layups and connecting on a back-door alley-oop — couldn’t get shots to fall, while Bellefontaine (1-6) seemed to knock down any and every open shot it got. And the Trojans, who hit 13 3s in one game and came in shooting 32.2 percent from 3-point range on the season — went only 3 for 17 (17.6 percent) from 3 on the night.
But Troy coach Paul Bremigan also thought that the Chieftains’ hustle hurt the Trojans in addition to their shooting.
“When you’ve got a guy like (Clement) dishing it to them right and left, you’ve got to do that (hit open shots). And it wasn’t all shooting,” Bremigan said. “They got a lot of loose balls, too. Just about every loose ball that was out there to be had, they got. And in a game like that one, when a team’s making shots, you can’t give them second opportunities, and that’s what we did.
“We didn’t play very good defense in the first half. We played a bit better in the second half. But we’ve got to do a better job on defense and get loose balls. That’s the bottom line.”
Troy hit the game’s first two buckets and led early, but Bellefontaine hit four 3s in the first quarter to take control, including a long 3 by Clement at the buzzer to make it 16-12 after one. And even though the Trojans fought hard in the second quarter, with Jaden Owens scoring 13 of his team-high 17 points in the first half in addition to connecting with Caillou Monroe for that alley-oop layup that cut the lead to 24-20 midway through the second quarter, Clement and the Chieftains casually converted each opportunity they got on their end, building a lead as big as 38-28 before Tre’Vone Archie hit a 3 to make the score 38-31 at the half.
A 6-0 third-quarter run got Troy to within two at 41-39, and a jumper by Sam Shaneyfelt cut the lead to 42-41 moments later. The teams traded buckets the rest of the third until Austin Stanaford scored a tough basket in the paint to cut the lead to 46-45 — only to have Bellefontaine’s Maverick Calton get the roll at the buzzer on a shot that hung on the rim for seemingly forever, making it a three-point game heading into the fourth.
And with roughly 1:30 left in the game, Shaneyfelt made a steal on a drive by Clement and got the ball to Monroe, who hit Archie for the fast-break finish to give Troy a 60-59 lead — its first since the score was 4-0. But, with Troy’s defense forced to double Clement, Dinovo was left open and sank a 3 to put the Chieftains back up by two.
On the other end, Archie drove and dumped to Stanaford for what appeared to be an easy bucket, but Clement came sailing in from behind to make the block. Troy kept possession and got an open shot at a 3 for Archie, but the shot was off and Clement grabbed the rebound, hitting both free throws to make it a four-point game, and Bellefontaine hung on from there.
“I thought that was a good look for Tre’vone there at the end. I don’t have a problem with that shot,” Bremigan said. “I think (Clement) made a great play blocking that shot of Austin’s. He came out of nowhere. If you make plays like that, you win — and we didn’t make many plays tonight. The team that made the most plays won.”
Clement led all scorers with 24 points and added six rebounds for the Chieftains. Calton scored 15 points, Brett Belser hit three 3s and added 13 points, Dinovo added eight points, Kyle Edu scored four and Grant Smith scored one.
Owens had 17 points, four rebounds and two assists to lead Troy, Stanaford had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, Archie added 10 points and three assists, Caleb Fogarty had eight points, Monroe had six points, four rebounds and six assists and Shaneyfelt had six points and six rebounds.
“We need to do a lot of the little things to get better. That’s the bottom line,” Bremigan said.
Troy will look to get back on track in another non-league matchup Saturday at Miamisburg before returning home to host Fairborn on Tuesday in Greater Western Ohio Conference American League crossover play.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.