By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — With four starters and its three leading scorers back from last year, the Troy girls basketball team can’t be blamed for being a little anxious to get the new season started.
“It’s the first game of the year,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “I don’t want to call it nerves, but there was a kind of anxiety — the girls were just jacked. They were pumped up and ready to play.”
It showed, too.
Senior Tia Bass scored all 14 of her points in the first half and was one rebound shy of a double-double, while sophomore point guard Macie Taylor also reached double figures to help lead the Trojans (1-0) past Springfield Shawnee for the fourth straight year in a 38-24 season-opening victory Monday at the Trojan Activities Center.
The 14-point win was greater than the combined total of Troy’s three previous wins in openers against the Braves (0-1), with the Trojans winning three-point nailbiters in 2017 and 2018 and winning by a six-point margin last year.
Monday’s game seemed as though it may be another close one early, with Shawnee taking a 9-8 lead on a Zoe Ballard 3-pointer midway through the quarter. But Bass scored inside and then fed a cutting Macie Taylor for a layup to give control back to the Trojans, and they held a 16-13 lead after one.
“I do like the 16 points that we scored in the first quarter,” Johnson said. “I hate the fact that we gave up 13, but when you look at our defense from that point on, they scored 11 in the last three quarters. We just had to settle down defensively.
“They want to make plays. One of our keys today was execution and patience, and patience is one of those things we have to work on. When the girls see opportunities, they want to score, and as the season goes on and with four of our starters back, we have to learn some new rotations and this new group.”
The Troy defense was especially tough in the second quarter, allowing zero field goals and only one point. A putback by Bass gave Troy a 21-14 lead early, but then the Taylor sisters both had to sit out in foul trouble at the 6:16 mark. Freshman Elise McCann helped keep things under control at the point, and three more buckets by Bass in the paint capped off a single-handed eight-point run and gave Troy a 27-14 halftime lead.
“I liked how we pounded the ball in to Tia to start the game,” Johnson said. “She had all 14 of her points in the first half. We need to pound it inside to start the game, because I think if we can establish dominance on the inside, that will open up stuff from the outside.”
Troy had chances to pull ahead even farther in the second half, but a handful of missed looks inside kept the Trojans from truly turning the game into a blowout. Overall, the team was 14 for 42 (33.3 percent) from the field and 8 for 14 (57.1 percent) from the free throw line.
“We missed some shots, missed a lot of close-range shots. And you could tell towards the end of the third, they were a little winded and tired,” Johnson said. “I think that’s just typical first-game kind of things.”
But the defense continued to do its job, too, holding the Braves to only six points in the third quarter and four in the fourth, with Troy holding a 33-20 lead heading into the final quarter and closing the game out from there.
Bass finished with a game-high 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, Macie Taylor added 12 points, four assists and three steals and MaKenna Taylor hit both of the team’s 3s and added eight points and three assists. Brynn Siler had two points and six rebounds, Kiersten Franklin had two points and Laura Borchers had seven rebounds and two assists.
“I thought Tia played well, and Macie did a good job running our offense like always,” Johnson said. “She was great from the free throw line. MaKenna did a nice job, made smart passes, and she worked harder defensively than I’ve seen in a while. Laura Borchers, her name doesn’t show up on the scoreboard, but defensively and offensively, she continues to be our glue. And Brynn, she doesn’t know how good she’s going to be yet. When she gets a better understanding of our offense and a little more confidence, she’s going to be an integral part of what we do.
“Elise did a great job running the offense, too. I was hoping to find a backup point guard, because we lost one to an injury, and it was great to see Elise play confidently and with poise, which is rare for a freshman. All in all, I was pleased.”
For Shawnee, Tori Malicki had seven points and five rebounds, Andi Meeks had six points, Hannah Beers, Alysis Applin and Ballard each had three points and Lydia Spitzer had two points as the Trojans won the rebounding battle 29-23 and forced 19 turnovers while committing 17.
Troy remains at home Wednesday night, taking on non-league rival Miami East before beginning Miami Valley League play next week.
“There’s some pieces to the puzzle, but there’s just the consistency I’m looking for yet,” Johnson said. “But that’s why it’s Game One. And if we continue to work and improve, I think we’ll see some dividends.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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