By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
VANDALIA — It had to happen sometime.
The red-hot Troy girls basketball team, winner of 10 of its last 12 games to close the regular season, had to cool off sometime.
It just happened to be in the Trojans’ postseason opener — and it took a whopper of a coaching milestone to do it, too.
With Troy trailing by only six entering the fourth of a Division I sectional tournament second-round matchup, Beavercreek scored 10 unanswered points to begin the final quarter and put the game out of reach as the sixth-seeded Beavers eliminated No. 12 Troy 45-26 Tuesday at Butler High School — with Beavercreek head coach Ed Zink picking up his 800th career victory in the process.
“Tonight just wasn’t our night,” Troy coach Aaron Johnson said. “Sometimes the basketball gods bless you with some things going through that orange rim — but tonight there was a lid on it.”
With the win, Beavercreek improved to 15-9 on the season and advanced to face the winner between No. 1 Fairmont and No. 20 West Carrollton in Tuesday’s late game. In addition, it made Beavercreek’s Zink — who has been coach of the team since 1975 — 800-261 on his career, the only coach in Ohio girls basketball history to reach that milestone.
For Troy, which closed out the season at 14-9, it was simply a night of missed chances — particularly early. Macie Taylor and Tia Bass, two of the top seven individual scorers in the Miami Valley League this season, went into halftime with a combined two points as the Trojans fell behind 8-5 after one and 21-16 at the break.
“We just uncharacteristically missed some shots that we normally make,” Johnson said. “Execution, for the most part, was there, and we got some of the shots we wanted to get — they just didn’t fall in. I think if we would’ve hit a couple of those baskets early, we could’ve put a crack in their confidence. But by missing those shots and letting them hang around, they got warm and comfortable and made some shots.
“I could have called 50 million plays, but when you miss bunnies at the basket, 5-foot and 10-foot shots … I looked at my assistants and asked ‘what do we run, if it’s not going to go through the hoop?’ We got quality looks — but we just didn’t finish. If we make a couple of those shots in that first quarter, we’re up 10-8 or so, and I think it’s a different game.”
Troy was able to retake a 16-15 lead with 2:00 left in the first half on the strength of three 3-pointers by Laura Borchers and a bucket inside by Brynn Siler, but Beavercreek regained an 18-16 lead after converting a steal into a layup by Riley Ryan with a minute to go. Troy then rushed a 3-point try on the other end and came up empty, leaving the Beavers’ Trinity Beam plenty of time to bury her third 3 of the first half and stake Beavercreek out to a five-point halftime lead.
“We have a tendency, when we fall behind, to try to catch up all at once,” Johnson said. “Our gameplan was to make five to seven passes, get their zone moving and find the gaps. On some of our sets, we did that, but we missed those shots — and then we got in a hurry and tried to rush and force some things. And you’re not going to beat Beavercreek by making one or two passes on the offensive end then trying to score.”
The Beavers continued to pull away in the third, building a nine-point lead before Bass’ first bucket of the game made the score 25-18 with 3:10 left in the quarter. Maci Rhoades hit her third 3, though, to make it a 28-18 game, but Taylor got going, hitting a putback, dishing to Borchers for a jumper and then hitting a step-back jumper of her own to get Troy to within six heading into the fourth at 30-24.
From there, it was all Beavercreek, though. Beam scored on a fast break, Anna Landing hit two buckets inside and Rhoades finished another fast break to force a Troy timeout, down 38-24 with 3:18 to go. Rhoades then scored on an in-bounds play to make it a 16-point game before Taylor spun into the lane and hit a jumper to end the run with 1:42 on the clock. That proved to be Troy’s only basket of the fourth, though, and the Beavers put it away from there.
Borchers led the team with 11 points on the night, while sophomore Taylor finished with eight points, five rebounds and three assists. MaKenna Taylor added three points and two assists, Bass had two points and 11 rebounds and Siler had two points and four rebounds.
Beam had 13 points and Rhoades added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench for Beavercreek. Tiernan McKitrick had seven points and seven rebounds, going 5 for 6 from the free throw line, Landing had six points, nine rebounds and four assists and Zoey Bent, Mia Grilliot and Ryan each had two points.
Beavercreek outrebounded Troy 31-26, forced 14 turnovers while only committing 10 and was 7 for 13 from the free throw line in the game, while Troy did not attempt a free throw on the night.
“We wanted to keep them off the free throw line, but they got there a little too much in the first half,” Johnson said. “And we didn’t get to the free throw line at all, and that was frustrating. That is what that is.”
Still, after last year’s 59-28 tournament loss to Northmont on the same floor, the Trojans showed a marked improvement — even after beginning this season 5-7.
“I was proud of the way the girls played,” Johnson said. “I told the ladies in the locker room not to walk out of here with their heads down. We had a heck of the season. The second half of our season was one of the best for Troy in a long time. But for every team but one, they’re going to lose at some point in the tournament. This just happened to be our time. But I’m proud of how they battled and played this year.”
It was the final game in the careers of Troy’s five seniors, Bass, Borchers, MaKenna Taylor, Caitlyn Hutson and Chloe Coleman.
“I told our seniors that they’re the reason we went 10-2 in those last 12 games before this,” Johnson said. “For Tia, Laura, MaKenna, Caitlyn and Chloe, there was some emotion in the locker room as they realized it was over. I just want to thank them and say that I appreciate everything they’ve done for the last four years. And I hope the younger kids see everything they’ve put into it, the heart and soul they poured into it.
“I could talk about tonight, but it just wasn’t our night.”
Contact Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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