By Josh Brown
TROY — During Friday’s ugly victory over Butler, Troy went cold for one stretch that kept the Aviators in the game.
Against Tecumseh Saturday, that stretch proved to be a bit more costly.
After Troy jumped out to a 14-5 lead midway through the first quarter, the Arrows outscored the Trojans 22-2 taking an 11-point lead at halftime and surviving a furious fourth-quarter Troy rally as Tecumseh held on for a 72-62 victory Saturday night at the Trojan Activities Center.
“Last night (against Butler) when we were up 10, we blew three layups and they got back into the game,” Troy boys basketball coach Paul Bremigan said. “Tonight, we got in a rut again, and they outscored us 22-2 during that run. This time, it kept us out of the game.”
That didn’t stop the Trojans (4-7) from fighting, though.
Tecumseh (11-2) built a lead as big as 21 at 45-24 early in the third, going 4 for 4 from 3-point range to start the second half and hitting nine 3s on the night. Troy got to within 11 late in the third, but Darius Quisenberry buried a long 3 at the buzzer to make it 52-38 going into the fourth.
Troy cut the lead to 10 on a pair of steals and Austin Persinger baskets to start the fourth, but Clay Mastin hit a 3 and was fouled, converting a four-point play to give the Arrows some more much-needed insurance.
“That’s one thing I’ve been telling the guys — never give up. No matter what, never give up,” Bremigan said. “We were a lot more aggressive in the second half, but they hit some shots. That four-point play after we cut it to 10 was a big play. You’ve got to give them credit — they hit shots when they had to and made their free throws down the stretch. And we turned the ball over too much. That was a concern against them, because they play hard. We’ve played 11 teams this year, and they play as hard as anyone we’ve played so far.”
Every time the Arrows seemed to put away the game, the Trojans answered — but they simply could not close the gap.
Romello Yaqub converted a three-point play to get Troy to within eight at 60-52 with 3:52 to play, but a bucket inside by Ross Warren and a tip-in by Darius Quisenberry gave the Arrows a 12-point cushion again. Ryan McClurg scored inside to get the deficit back to 10, but with time dwindling the Trojans were forced to foul. Quisenberry hit a pair of free throws to make it 67-55 with 1:16 left, and Persinger scored on a putback to keep it at 10. Malik Quisenberry hit three free throws to extend the lead with less than a minute left, McClurg hit a putback to cut it to 11, Malik Quisenberry broke the press and scored a layup to make it 72-59 with 16 seconds left and Yaqub hit a late 3 to make it a 10-point game.
Yaqub led the Trojans with 23 points, added six rebounds and two assists — and held Malik Quisenberry, arguably the Arrows’ most potent scoring threat, in check most of the night. Quisenberry scored six of his 14 points in the fourth with the Trojans pressing on defense.
“We put Romello on Malik Quisenberry tonight, and I thought he did a decent job on him,” Bremigan said. “It’s funny. He’s (Yaqub) got to bring the ball up the floor for us, he’s got to score, he’s our leading assists man — and, oh yeah, you’ve got to defend their best player tonight, too, by the way. But he did well, and we had some breakdowns on some of their other players that were hurting us.”
Tecumseh had four players in double figures, led by Darius Quisenberry with 16 points — 11 in the second half — 10 rebounds and five assists. Rylan Magsaysay added 15 points, hitting four of the Arrows’ nine 3s, Malik Quisenberry had 14 points and five rebounds and Mastin added 12 points.
McClurg gave the Trojans a solid all-around effort with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists, Mechia Linton added nine points and eight rebounds, Keenan Kinnel had nine points, Persinger had seven points and six rebounds and Trey Bucio had seven rebounds.
“We got a good game from McClurg tonight. He and Kinnel have really come around lately,” Bremigan said. “Early in the year for us on offense, it was Romello to the right, Romello to the left, Romello up the middle. But now, everyone else around him is picking it up, and combined with our production from our bigs, it’s making us a better team.”
The Trojans will next be in action Friday at Sidney.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.