By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
XENIA — Last year, the Troy Christian girls basketball team bounced back from an early-season loss at Legacy Christian, winning an overtime thriller at home in the penultimate game of the regular season to earn a share of the Metro Buckeye Conference championship.
With the opportunity to do the same thing this season, things did not quite go as planned for the Eagles.
Troy Christian went 1 for 22 in the first half as Legacy Christian went on a 23-0 run early and held the Eagles to a mere nine points through three quarters, putting the rematch out of reach early in a 53-20 victory Thursday night at Legacy Christian to clinch the MBC title outright.
The Knights improved to 19-2 overall with the win and 11-0 in the MBC, leading second-place Troy Christian by two games with only one left to play. The Eagles, meanwhile, fell to 16-4 overall and finished with a 10-2 MBC record, with only a pair of non-league games remaining in the regular season.
Legacy Christian won the first meeting between the teams 41-28 back on Jan. 7 in Troy, a game in which Troy Christian’s leading scorer, freshman post Sarah Johnson, was hurt and has not returned since. And though the Eagles have played well in her absence, going 7-1 since then entering Thursday night’s matchup, the lack of a reliable inside scoring option was definitely felt as an early 4-3 Eagle deficit turned into a 27-3 one late in the second quarter. Troy Christian only managed a Morgan Taylor layup and an Erin Schenk free throw in falling behind 13-3 after one quarter and then only had a free throw by Taylor in the second quarter, trailing 29-4 at halftime.
“We did not shoot the ball very well,” Troy Christian coach Tony Ferraro said. “I thought we had some open shots, but we just did not knock any of them in. They (Legacy Christian) came in here and earned their conference crown.
“We’ve still done well in the second half of the year so far, but tonight we just made a lot of defensive mistakes, did not shoot the ball very well, and they continued to get a big lead on us. Sometimes, you’ve got to give the other team credit.”
Sydney Taylor came off the bench in the second half and gave the Eagles a boost, scoring all six of her points after the break, and Morgan Taylor added six of her team-high nine points in the second half and led the team with 12 rebounds, as well. But after that 23-0 run and anemic first half, the result was never in question.
Schenk added four points and the night and Lexi Salazar had one as the Eagles finished the game 6 for 48 from the field and 8 for 19 from the free throw line. Combined with being outrebounded 40-30 on the night, it proved to be too much for the Eagles to overcome.
Legacy Christian, meanwhile, had more baskets from 3-point range than Troy Christian had total field goals, hitting eight shots from behind the arc on the night and finishing 21 for 49 from the field. Emily Riddle led the Knights with 14 points, including scoring her 1,000th career point late in the third quarter. Kathleen Ahner added 11 points and 12 rebounds, Emma Hess had 11 points and seven rebounds, Margaret Kensinger scored 10 points and Maddy Combs had seven points and five rebounds.
And saying the Knights shot the lights out could be taken literally, too — as the team was cutting down the nets to celebrate its league title after the game, the power was knocked out by a fallen tree at the entrance to the school’s campus.
“It seemed like everything they were throwing up went in, and it seemed like everything we threw up was missing,” Ferraro said. “We’ve got to learn from this adversity and move on. We’ve got the tournament coming, but we’ve still got games on Monday and Tuesday to look at, too. We don’t want to look too far ahead. We’ve got a practice Friday and then games Monday and Tuesday. We’ll be ready.”
Troy Christian hosts Chaminade Julienne Monday.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.