By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — According to Troy boys basketball coach Mark Hess, there was no magic formula to recover from back-to-back division losses, no secret trick.
Just some good old-fashioned hard work.
“We really had a good focus on Saturday and Monday in practice,” Hess said. “I’m a big believer in how you play like you practice. We were focused and paid good attention to detail, and it carried over to tonight.”
Tuesday night, that paid off.
Troy went on a 9-0 run between the first and second quarters to build a comfortable lead and then continued to pull away the rest of the night, snapping a two-game losing streak and completing a season sweep of Fairborn in the process with a 68-46 Miami Valley League crossover victory Tuesday at the Trojan Activities Center.
And the win couldn’t have come at a better time, either.
The Trojans had lost two straight coming in: first to MVL Miami Division leader Tippecanoe to fall a game behind in the standings, and then at Xenia Friday night in the team’s worst offensive performance of the season — including shooting 35 percent from the floor, 33 percent from the free throw line and a woeful 16 percent from 3-point range.
“As bad as Friday was for us, the kids came back ready to get better on Saturday,” Hess said. “We did some shooting, tweaked our zone offense a bit, then they came in Monday and were ready to go. We had a really good practice, and I think it showed tonight.”
Tuesday was the polar opposite, though, as Troy was 28 for 51 (55 percent) from the field and was particularly deadly from behind the arc, going 9 for 21 (43 percent) from 3-point range to improve to 10-6 on the season, 8-5 in division play and pull back to within one game of Tippecanoe. Fairborn, meanwhile, fell to 1-15 overall and 1-12 in the MVL Valley.
“We got better shots tonight,” Hess said. “We want to work from the inside out against the zone, so we changed our offense to put an emphasis on getting the ball in the middle. And we did a good job of getting the ball inside and then looking on the back side for open shots.”
The Trojans also shared the basketball well, piling up 18 assists as a team on those 28 field goals.
“It shows we were moving the basketball, and that’s what we want to do, especially when teams are playing a zone,” Hess said. “We didn’t do a great job of that Friday, so it was good to see improvement.
“Teams will get some film where we’re not looking good against a zone, so we’ll see more of it. Then they see a game like tonight where we’re more efficient, and maybe we’ll see less of it. It was a really good team win. Guys were moving the basketball, making the right read and pass, and we were getting open shots and knocking them down.”
And everyone got in on the action, too.
Jaden Owens hit four 3s and led the Trojans on the night with 20 points and four steals off the bench, scoring 13 of them in the third quarter to help turn a n already-comfortable 34-20 halftime lead into a 54-28 cushion after three. Tre Archie hit three 3s and added 11 points and two assists, Shaeden Olden added 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Landyn Henry chipped in nine points and four rebounds.
“It was good to see Shaeden, Jaden, Tre and Landyn all getting hot,” Hess said. “With this stretch we have coming up, we need to be playing at our best. And when we’re shooting the basketball from the perimeter like that, we’re a lot tougher to guard.”
Austin Stanaford added six points, six assists and four rebounds, Andrew Holley had four points and three rebounds, Ryan Davis had four points, Hollis Terrell had two points and Charlie Walker had one point.
Dwight Lewis led Fairborn with 12 points and five rebounds and Blake Huffman added 11 points as Troy won the rebounding battle 28-18 and forced 21 Skyhawk turnovers while only committing 11. Cole Spencer and Julius Pullen each scored six points, Keegan Dierker added five, Caelan Bush scored four and Brody Mungo added two.
Troy now begins arguably its toughest stretch of the season, traveling to Butler to face the surging Aviators on Friday and hosting MVL Valley leader Sidney Tuesday before its rematch with the Red Devils Feb. 7 at Tippecanoe.
The Trojans know they can’t get caught looking ahead, though, just because they won the first meeting against the Aviators 63-41 — the last time Troy won a game at Butler was Dec. 16, 2017.
“They’ll be fired up,” Hess said of Butler. “We got them the first time, and they’re going to be ready to go. It’s going to be a great high school game, and we just have to continue to progress, follow our gameplan and do what we want to do.”
Contact Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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