By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Troy boys basketball coach Paul Bremigan knew his team had a Samari Curtis problem.
But, as has been the case when the Trojans face a team with a standout player this year, Curtis’ supporting cast became enough of a problem to open things up for him.
The Buccaneers’ Jate Bradley hit five 3-pointers and scored a season-high 18 points — all in the first half — to help Xenia take control, then the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s leading scorer Curtis poured in 18 of his game-high 29 points in the second half to seal an 86-61 GWOC American League crossover victory over Troy Friday at the Trojan Activities Center.
“Sometimes when people come in, they’re going to shoot well and make free throws and do things they need to do to win. You take away some things, give other kids some shots, take your chances,” Bremigan said. “When you play man-to-man, (Curtis) can put 40 on you. And we knew that if he scored 40, we weren’t going to win either.”
And Bremigan has dealt with Curtis all four years at Troy now — his freshman year, Curtis was one of four Buccaneers in double figures as Xenia knocked Troy out of the sectional tournament. In regular season matchups, two years ago he had 22 points and last year he had 33 points against the Trojans — all Xenia wins.”
Curtis leads the overall GWOC in scoring this season with 33.9 points per game coming into Friday’s contest, and Xenia improved to 8-7 and 6-4 in the GWOC American South with the win. Troy — which just ended a seven-game losing streak on Tuesday night — fell to 5-10 and 4-6 in the GWOC American North Division.
And the hero of Tuesday’s 70-67 win at West Carrollton had a rough night. Caillou Monroe, who led Troy with 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Pirates, was held scoreless Friday and led the Trojans with seven rebounds.
“Caillou does a lot of things for us, and one thing he really needs to do for us, in the games that we’ve been successful, is rebound,” Bremigan said. “When we’ve been successful and played well, he’s rebounded for us.”
And when it came down to it, rebounding proved to be Troy’s undoing against Xenia.
The Trojans kept pace early despite Bradley’s 3-point shooting display, with Chris DeMeo hitting four of them in the first quarter to keep Troy within three points at 17-14. But Xenia went on a 10-0 run from there that stretch into the second quarter, taking a 24-14 lead after one and a 49-30 lead at halftime.
Then in the third quarter alone, the Bucs outrebounded Troy 20-8, piling up second- and even third-chance points and leading by as many as 33 points at one point. On the night, Xenia outrebounded Troy 48-30.
“Rebounding, I was really disappointed in our effort there. That was the biggest thing,” Bremigan said. “Our effort has to improve. That’s something that comes from within. We’ve got nine guys, and I’ve got to find five guys that want to give me effort to rebound. We’re not the biggest team in the world, but we could have a lot more heart than what we’ve got.
“Rebounding is a constant. It’s like defense — it has to be there every night. Your defense has to be there every night, your rebounding has to be there every night, because some nights you’re not going to shoot it well. That’s the bottom line.”
And with Troy forced to adjust on defense to take Bradley into account in the second half, Curtis took advantage, scoring 13 points in the third quarter alone as Xenia built a 71-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Bucs built an 81-47 lead in the middle of the fourth quarter when Curtis sat down for the rest of the night — and Troy’s backups went on a 14-0 run to close the gap to 83-61 before Xenia hit one more 3 at the buzzer to close out the night.
“Sometimes kids that don’t get to play very much take advantage of their opportunities more so than kids that think they should be playing more and aren’t,” Bremigan said. “I feel like we’ve got nine kids that can contribute. That’s something that practice has to dictate. You play how you practice — and, unfortunately, some nights … well, you just saw how we practiced.”
Curtis led all scorers with 29 points and added eight rebounds and five assists, Bradley had 18 points and eight rebounds, Zack Gaithier had 11 points, Dylan Hoosier scored nine points, Johnzel Gray had seven points and 10 rebounds, Noah Crawford had seven points, Alex Sparks had three points and Isaiah Hoyt had two points.
It was only the Trojans’ third game of the season with its full roster, as the team has dealt with injuries and other factors most of the year. Shaeden Olden, playing in only his sixth game, led Troy on the night with a career-high 19 points, and Demeo finished with 16 points and five rebounds, hitting five of the Trojans’ seven 3s on the night. Jaden Owens added nine points, Caleb Fogarty scored seven, Austin Stanaford had six points and six rebounds, Andrew Holley had two points and three rebounds and Tre’Vone Archie had two points.
“It’s just frustrating to see that effort 14 or 15 games in,” Bremigan said. “Now that we’ve got everybody here, it’s really discouraging.”
Troy goes on the road for two GWOC American North games next week, playing at winless Greenville Tuesday before facing division-leading Sidney Friday,
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.