By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — The first time Troy played back-to-back nights this season, the team ran out of gas on the second night.
And after battling state-ranked Butler to the wire Friday, the question was how much energy would the Trojans have left for their Senior Night matchup against Celina Saturday.
“After we lost last night, we played with better intensity, so we knew we had to bring it back tonight,” Troy senior Monroe said. “Some of us are sore, but we just had to play through it.”
The Trojans came out with that same intensity early on, building a lead as big as 22 points early in the third quarter. And even though the Bulldogs battled back and closed the gap to as few as four points early in the fourth, Monroe stepped up with eight huge fourth-quarter points to help the Troy boys basketball team hold on for a 51-43 Senior Night victory Saturday night at the Trojan Activities Center.
In the end, it was the seniors that came up big for the Trojans (7-12) — particularly Monroe, who lead the team with 17 points and 10 rebounds, including back-to-back buckets to help the team extend its lead again after Celina (6-14) had cut the lead to 40-36 early in the fourth quarter. Fellow seniors Sam Shaneyfelt added five points and four rebounds and Chris DeMeo had one point and three rebounds.
“He stepped up,” Bremigan said. “He shot free throws well, was 4 for 4 from the line, made a couple big ones in the last 30 seconds that extended our lead, and that’s good to see. Sam Shaneyfelt gave us a lot of good energy early, too, and that’s what he does. He creates loose balls, gets loose balls, and he did a nice job there.”
On Dec. 28 and 29, 2018, the Trojans also played back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday night, capping off a three-game winning streak by beating Springfield Shawnee that Friday, only to watch a huge early lead evaporate the next night in a loss to Ponitz that kicked off a seven-game losing streak.
This Friday, the Trojans lost a 59-55 slugfest against division rival Butler, the No. 9 team in the state in the latest Division I poll. But if they were feeling any weariness from that game, they didn’t show it early Saturday night, forcing six first-quarter turnovers and running the floor to build a 17-8 lead after the first quarter. And, with seven of the eight players who got into the game contributing points in the first half, the Trojans continued to play together and pull away, leading 33-16 at the break and leading by as many as 22 at 38-16 early in the third after Caleb Fogarty finished off a 13-0 run with a 3-point bomb.
And that’s when Celina began to chip away.
The Bulldogs scored the next six points to cut into the lead before Tre’Vone Archie hit a jumper to make the score 40-24. Celina scored the final seven points of the third to get the lead back to single digits, though, with Austin Okeley hitting a dramatic 3 at the buzzer to trim the deficit to 40-31 heading into the final eight minutes.
Brett Schwieterman hit the first bucket of the fourth and Okeley drilled another 3 to pull Celina with four at 40-36 and force a Troy timeout with 6:42 remaining — and coming out of that timeout, the Trojans retook control thanks to their defense.
“I thought in the first half, we played really, really well. And then we kind of missed some easy shots early in the third quarter that could have extended the lead,” Bremigan said. “Then they started in and outscored us 15-7 in that quarter. We had two or three turnovers in a row in the middle of the third, and that combined with some shot selection issues, and then we didn’t shoot well from the line in the fourth quarter — 5 for 12 in the fourth, that’s not going to get it done.
“But we did a decent job defensively in the fourth. We changed things up a bit when it got to be 40-36, and the kids did a nice job there, especially rebounding. Caillou got some rebounds, (Austin) Stanaford got some rebounds and we held them to one shot per trip. That was big.”
“Coach taught us to play hard on defense at all times,” Monroe said. “As long as we work in practice, we’re always tough on defense. Basically, we just had to keep playing our game.”
Archie hit a pair of free throws to end Celina’s 12-0 run and give Troy a six-point lead again, then Monroe hit back-to-back shots to make it a 10-point game again, first finishing off a feed from Archie into the paint and then hitting a baseline jumper after a scramble for a loose ball to give Troy a 46-36 lead.
“That was big,” Bremigan said. “He hit that little runner, and that was a big shot. When it’s an 8-to-10-point game, you’ve got to get those. That was big.”
Both teams missed a pair of free throws before another Okeley 3 kept Celina alive with 1:28 to play. Troy missed the front end of a one-and-one and Drake Langenkamp sank a pair of free throws to cut the lead to five at the 1:19 mark, but Monroe hit a putback on the other end with one minute to go to put Troy up by seven again. Celina cut the lead to five again from the line, but Monroe sank a pair of free throws with 43.2 seconds remaining to make the score 50-43, and Stanaford snared a rebound on the defensive end with 10.4 seconds left to essentially seal the win.
After Monroe’s Senior Night double-double and Shaneyfelt’s and DeMeo’s contributions, Fogarty added 12 points, Archie finished with nine points Stanaford had five points and 10 rebounds and Brayden Siler had five points and three assists.
Okeley led all scorers with 23 points for the Bulldogs, hitting three 3s and going 8 for 8 from the free throw line. Brandon Yenser added eight points and six rebounds, Schwieterman scored six points, Langenkamp had two points and nine rebounds and Josh Kuehne and Austin Cotterman each scored two points as Troy outrebounded Celina 37-30 and forced 12 turnovers while committing 11.
“We’ve got some things to work on and things to get better at still,” Bremigan said. “We don’t play many of these — this is probably the fewest Saturday games I’ve ever had. We had two this year. But we’ll get back to Tuesday-Friday this week.”
Troy finishes off its three-game homestand against Tippecanoe Tuesday before traveling to rival Piqua Friday — and the Trojans know what they need to do to finish the season strong.
“We’ve just got to come with the same intensity,” Monroe said.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.