By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
VANDALIA — Late in Tuesday’s postseason matchup, a Springfield player ran over Troy boys basketball coach Paul Bremigan, sending him tumbling to the floor in front of the spectators’ bleachers.
The veteran coach personified the way his Trojans played all season, though — he took the hit, got back up and got back to work.
And although the 18th-seeded Trojans’ season came to an end Thursday night in an at-times-bizarre 67-43 loss to No. 2 Springfield in the second round of the Division I sectional tournament at Butler High School, nothing could take away from the Trojans all the things they worked for and fought through this season on the way to a 10-13 finish.
Troy’s 10 wins were the most for the team since the 2011-12 season, and its four-game winning streak to finish the year was also the longest streak since that season when it went 17-7 and went to the D-I district finals for a second straight year. And Bremigan, who finished his 35th season as a varsity head coach, 31 at Russia and now four at Troy, coached in a milestone 800th career game this season.
“That’s the first charge I’ve taken in years,” Bremigan said to his assistants with a chuckle after the game of the hit, which came with 4:47 left in the fourth quarter. Still, moments later, he was back on his feet prowling the sidelines.
And his Trojans worked hard despite being down big the final three quarters of the game.
Springfield (15-9) — which advances to face the winner of Thursday’s late game between Sidney and Springboro — never pulled away far enough to turn on the running clock, taking a 30-point lead only once at 66-36 with 2:44 to play, but the Trojans scored the next five straight before any clock stoppages to ensure the mercy rule never kicked in. Even so, they simply couldn’t recover from the 24 turnovers that the Wildcats’ defensive pressure forced.
“We just turned the ball over too much,” Bremigan said. “We just didn’t get things done the way we wanted to. We threw soft passes — my worst fear. But you can’t simulate their quickness and physicality in practice, and that’s something we had problems with all year.”
The game got off to a strange start, though, to the Trojans’ benefit.
The Wildcats were called for a pair of pre-game technical fouls during warmups which were assessed before the opening tip. Troy’s Shaeden Olden hit all four of the free throws to give Troy a 4-0 lead before any time had left the clock, then he drilled a 3 on the resulting possession to stake the Trojans out to a quick 7-0 lead.
When Bremigan was asked if he’d seen that before, the veteran coach shook it off.
“I’m sure have have. I’ve seen about everything,” Bremigan said.
Springfield’s defense took over from there, forcing 10 first-quarter turnovers to keep the Trojans from building onto that early lead, though, and a putback dunk by Jeff Tolliver gave the Wildcats their first lead at 8-7 with 3:23 left in the quarter. The Trojans eventually retook the lead on a short jumper by Olden, but a putback and then a steal and dunk by Ray Cole gave the Wildcats a 12-9 lead after one.
Troy only managed three second-quarter free throws after that, with Springfield finishing off a 9-0 run to start the period and ending the half on a 7-0 run to claim a 29-12 halftime lead, and the Wildcats continued to build on that lead throughout the second half.
RaHeim Moss led all scorers with 14 points for the Wildcats, David Sanford added 13 points and Cole finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds as Springfield outrebounded the Trojans 42-32 and forced 24 turnovers while committing only 10. Larry Stephens had nine points, Ani Elliot had six points and five rebounds, Tolliver had six points, Ty Brown had five points and six rebounds, Devin Alston had two points and Jalen Minney had one.
Olden led the Trojans with 13 points — nine in the first quarter — and Tre’Vone Archie finished with nine points as the duo combined to go 12 for 14 from the free throw line, with Troy going 16 for 20 as a team. Austin Stanaford added six points and 10 rebounds, Caleb Fogarty had four points, Caillou Monroe, Sam Shaneyfelt and Chris DeMeo each had three points and Owen Evilsizor added two points.
It was the final game in the careers of seniors Monroe, Shaneyfelt and DeMeo.
“I was happy with our seniors,” Bremigan said. “We had three seniors that stuck it out and did a real great job for us. Caillou did a little bit of everything for us. He led us in assists, led us in rebounds and led us in assists. A guy does that, it’s obvious how valuable he is to the team. Sam, what can you say about him? And Chris, he came in in the second half of the season, hit shots for us and gave us some length inside.”
And with the youth that went into this season’s performance and all the adversity they faced and overcame along the way, the future looks bright for the Trojans.
“Shaeden’s still not healthy, either,” Bremigan said, referring to an injury that caused the sophomore to miss the first nine games of the season. “I told him he played with one-and-a-half hands all year. He’s going to get that fixed, and he’ll be a really good player for us next year. He’s got a court sense that you can’t coach.
“We’ll have six lettermen coming back, and they’ll be ready. Hopefully, we can stick together and not go off in different directions. That’s been the problem — we’ve had some guys go their own way and don’t think of the team. Hopefully these six will stick together, along with the young kids coming up. There’ll be some competition there, too.”
Preble Shawnee 48,
CLAYTON — Bethel coach Brett Kopp was a realist following Thursday’s heartbreaking tournament defeat.
“That’s sports,” he said. “Four teams get to win it all every year, and we weren’t one of them.”
After controlling most of the first three quarters, 11th-seeded Bethel couldn’t get anything going reliably offensively in the fourth quarter as No. 13 Preble Shawnee outlasted the Bees 48-46 in the second round of the Division III sectional tournament Thursday at Northmont High School.
“We struggled hitting shots all night,” Kopp said. “Once they got the lead in the fourth, it was back and forth from there — and we just couldn’t finish it out.”
The Bees led 13-6 after one and, after the Arrows battled back to within three at 23-20 at halftime, carried a six-point lead into the fourth at 39-33.
Senior Kendal James led the Bees with 15 points, Ethan Rimkus added nine, Jared Evans scored seven, Cade Young and Nick Schmidt both had six and Tomson Bean scored three.
The loss snapped a run of three consecutive trips to the district finals for the Bees, who finished 12-11 on the season.
“For someone like Kendal, a four-year player, I feel bad that this is how it ended for them. But he played his tail off,” Kopp said. “He has three district finals medals and two league championships, though. My seven seniors will be missed.”
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.