By Josh Brown
SPRINGFIELD — “Really? Wow.”
It was the first thing that came to first-year Troy girls basketball coach Aaron Johnson’s mind after his Trojans’ debut.
It summed it up pretty well.
The Trojans rallied from an eight-point first-quarter deficit at Springfield Shawnee, trailed by four early in the fourth quarter but went on a 10-0 run to take control thanks to a not-at-all-rehearsed full-court press. But the Braves refused to go away and cut the lead to only one in the final minute, and after Shawnee missed a potential go-ahead basket and two putback tries, Troy’s Bailey Hess finally grabbed a rebound and hit two free throws to extend the lead, and Kiyha Adkins intercepted a desperate full-court pass and dribbled off the last five seconds of the game to seal a hard-fought and hectic 46-43 victory Monday night in the Trojans’ season opener.
The Trojans (1-0) fell behind 10-2 midway through the first quarter, but three straight layups by Adkins and a 3 by Short gave them an 11-10 lead after one. A back-and-forth second quarter saw Troy leading 20-18 at the half, but the Braves (1-1) came back from down five late in the third to retake a 34-32 lead heading into the final quarter — and even led 36-32 early in the fourth in a game that featured nine lead changes and four ties.
No lead was safe, but Troy never gave up.
“They started on that 10-2 run, and it was great to see the response of the girls,” Johnson said. “We’re down 10-2, Kiyha Adkins scores six quick points and next thing you know it’s 10-8. Right there, you could see the girls start to believe. And that was our message before the game, believe.
“That’s the part that gives me goosebumps — looking at how we played in the preseason, then seeing the effort, the energy and the enthusiasm that the girls brought to the floor. And that spread like wildfire.”
And, trailing by four early in the fourth, it was trying out something that they hadn’t before that injected new life into the Trojans.
“We have not worked on a press,” Johnson said. “(Assistant) coach (Kurt) Snyder suggested we put on a press and try to maybe force some turnovers. We haven’t worked on one, but the tenacity those girls played with did force some quick turnovers, and we got some easy baskets out of it. You could even see the energy on the bench totally change once we went to that press.”
Short finished a drive to the basket and then, after the defense forced a turnover, hit a 3 to give the Trojans a 37-36 lead. Another Shawnee turnover led to Gabbi Johnson setting up Alaura Holycross for a basket on an in-bounds play, and the Adkins won a scramble for another loose ball and laid it in to give Troy a 41-36 lead — capping off a string of three conversions on turnovers in a 30-second span.
“We might actually have to practice that now,” Johnson added with a laugh.
Troy led 42-36 with four minutes to play — its biggest lead of the game — but the Braves would not quit, either. Paree Furness hit one of the team’s seven 3s in the game to keep Shawnee alive and, with Troy leading 44-40 with just under 30 seconds to play, Des Parks drilled a high-arcing bomb while falling backwards to cut the Trojan lead to one.
The Braves forced a turnover on a tie-up with 20.6 seconds to go, but after a missed jumper on the in-bounds play and a pair of missed putback tries, Hess finally grabbed a rebound and was fouled with 13.1 seconds left. She knocked down both free throws to make it a three-point game, then Adkins played safety and came up with an interception on a Hail Mary pass with five seconds to go and used her speed to avoid being fouled and kill the rest of the clock.
“That’s a great team, and I don’t want to take anything away from them. But I haven’t seen our girls play with that kind of energy and effort,” Johnson said. “Really, we didn’t execute to my liking. But it was great to see young ladies step up. Alaura (Holycross) came out in the second half and dominated the post. Jordan Short hits two big 3s. And then Bailey Hess hitting those free throws at the end — girls stepped up.”
Adkins finished with a team-high 14 points, three assists and four steals and Short had 11 points to lead the way. Holycross had eight points — all of them in the second half — and seven rebounds, Hess had seven points and nine rebounds and Johnson, Velena Robinson and Tia Bass each scored two points.
Lizzie Weaver led Shawnee with 12 points, all of them coming on four 3-pointers, and Parks had 11 points and seven rebounds. Olivia Potts had six points and eight rebounds, Furness had six points, Madison Jones had four points, Emily Lord had three points and Ellie Brouhard had one point.
“It was a great team win,” Johnson said. “I’ve been preaching to the girls all year that I believe in them, the coaching staff believes in them. But that does nothing unless they believe in themselves and play for each other. And I think they get that now.”
Which left him simply saying “Wow.”
Legacy Christian 40,
XENIA — Lehman’s girls dropped to 0-2 to start the basketball season after falling 40-30 to Legacy Christian on the road Monday night in non-league play.
The Cavaliers jumped out to a 12-7 lead after one quarter and maintained that five-point margin at the half. But the lead shrunk to just one after three quarters, and then Legacy outscored them 14-3 in the final eight minutes.
Lehman struggled from the field, hitting just 11 of 37 shots for 30 percent.
Senior Hannah Fogt had 13 points to lead the Cavs and Alanna O’Leary added eight. Fogt also pulled down seven rebounds and O’Leary handed out three assists.
TROY — The Tippecanoe boys and girls bowling teams opened the season with losses in Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover play Monday, with the boys falling to Miamisburg 2,221-1,879 and the girls falling 1,861-1,526.
James Ridgeway led the Red Devil boys with 171-202 for a 373 series and Stephen Ridgeway had the high game with a 147-212—359. Nick Lanham rolled 162-170—332, Jake Cantrone rolled 130-127—257 and Ethan Joseph rolled 86-118—204.
For Tippecanoe’s girls, Ashlyn Herzog had the high game and series with 172-138—310, Reegan Brown rolled 149-116—265, Jessica Goodson rolled 108-155—263, Kenzie Maxton rolled 107-140—247 and Abbey Lee rolled 147-92—239.
Tippecanoe hosts Fairborn Friday.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.