By Josh Brown
TROY — Travis Sloan didn’t expect to shoot the ball at all Friday night.
The Troy Christian senior, still working his way back from a concussion suffered a couple of weeks ago, was named as an honorary starter before the game then sat back down to watch his five fellow seniors play on Senior Night.
So when he found himself on the free throw line in the fourth quarter, it was something of a pleasant surprise.
“I was super nervous,” Sloan said. “I’d shot in warmups, but I haven’t practiced free throws in a week. I went up there hoping to just make one of them.”
He hit the first, drawing the biggest roar from the Troy Christian faithful in the stands on a night filled with things to cheer about. A whopping five Eagles reached doubled figures, the team broke the school record for offensive rebounds in a game with 24 and Troy Christian clinched at least a share of its fourth straight Metro Buckeye Conference championship with their 25th straight league win, an 81-41 victory over Miami Valley.
Out of everything, the gesture to give Sloan a chance to score on Senior Night stood out the most.
“These seniors are like my own kids. I love them all so much,” Troy Christian coach Ray Zawadzki said. “I would’ve done it for any one of them. So when the opportunity came — Travis is still not allowed to run up and down the floor — when Miami Valley got called for a technical foul, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I saw the opportunity to let him score and couldn’t pass it up.”
“I’m still in the ‘no contact but basketball specific’ phase (of recovery),” Sloan said. “I got introduced and sat the bench. I’m just super thankful for coach giving me the chance.
“We’re a family. From day one, coach said we’re a family. We take care of each other, and nothing can separate us.”
Sloan’s free throw — he missed the second — made the score 81-38 Troy Christian at the time, but it also drew a technical foul on the Eagles, as he wasn’t listed in the official scorebook. Miami Valley made its two free throws … and then the Troy Christian student section said it all with one special chant.
“It was worth it!”
After all, the game had long been decided at that point.
With the score 7-7 in the first quarter and outside shots simply not falling, the Eagles went on a seven-point burst by converting steals into fast breaks. Logan George scored inside to kick off the run, then Aaron Horn hit George on the break for another quick finish. Spencer Thomas then set up Horn for on of Troy Christian’s three first-half 3s to make it 14-7 and force a Miami Valley timeout.
That timeout did little as the Eagles scored the next 10 straight, taking a 24-7 lead early in the second quarter and never looking back despite their early shooting woes. Troy Christian was 3 for 18 from 3-point range in the first half … but ended up hitting nine of them by game’s end. And after going 3 for 7 from the free throw line in the fist quarter, the Eagles went 13 for 15 in the second quarter — and 24 for 33 in the game.
“We didn’t shoot well, but we had 24 offensive rebounds, which is a school record,” Zawadzki said. “That’s an effort thing, and it also tells me that we were shooting the right shots since we were in position to get the rebound. And I told them that if we keep shooting the right shots, they’re going to fall.”
And the seniors had a field day.
Holden Varvel scored a career-high 18 points to lead the way, hitting three of those 3s and adding five rebounds and four assists. Horn added a career-high 15 points and four assists, Thomas had 14 points, four rebounds and three assists and Logan George had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Nathanael Boone added five points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
Junior Grant Zawadzki, the tam’s leading scorer, hit only two field goals in the game but was a perfect 12 for 12 from the line, adding 17 points.
“All six of these seniors have been the foundation of this program,” Zawadzki said. “They’re such a solid group, not just athletically, but also academically and spiritually. These kids find a way to get things done, and they’ve all bought in to ‘all in,’ doing anything and everything that’s necessary to win. When you get a group that does that, anything is possible.”
The Eagles, who also knocked off Middletown Christian 81-30 in a makeup game on Thursday night, improved to 17-2 on the season and 10-0 in MBC play. The seniors are now 33-1 against MBC opposition in the last three seasons and have won at least a share of the title all four years.
Troy Christian travels to Lehman on Wednesday for another makeup game.
Miami Valley — 41
Corde Donald 5-0-10, Noland Robinson 2-1-5, Alex Gray 1-0-2, Trevon Baker 3-3-9, Lennox Roberts 0-2-2, Ahner 2-0-4, Owen Robinette 2-1-5, Jeff Caldwell 0-0-0, Brett Schell 0-2-2, Jon Idle 0-1-1. Totals: 15-11-41.
Troy Christian — 81
Holden Varvel 6-3-18, Aaron Horn 5-3-15, Spencer Thomas 5-1-14, Logan George 5-0-10, Derek Spencer 0-0-0, Isaiah Fairley 0-1-1, Dusty Poteet 0-0-0, Travis Sloan 0-1-1, Nathanael Boone 1-3-5, Grant Zawadzki 2-12-17. Totals: 24-24-81.
Score By Quarters
MV7 21 34 41
TC19 43 68 81
3-point goals: Miami Valley — none. Troy Christian — Varvel 3, Horn 2, Thomas 3, Zawadzki.
Records: Miami Valley 3-13, 2-7. Troy Christian 17-2, 10-0.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.