Down the stretch of their season opener last week, the Troy girls’ basketball team knew they were in a battle. First-year coach Aaron Johnson was curious how well his team would be able to handle the adversity of a close game.
The Trojans passed the test, and came away with their first win of the season, defeating Springfield Shawnee 46-43 giving Johnson his first win as new Trojans coach.
“That was a big win for us,” Johnson said. “We made a huge leap forward and the effort was tremendous. I have never seen them play with that level of tenacity and did it for four quarters.”
“We didn’t execute to my liking, but they played hard. Part of my issue with scrimmages was not competing. We competed against Shawnee.”
Early in the game, Shawnee went on a 10-0 run to give the Braves a 10-2 lead with five minutes left in opening quarter. After a timeout, Kiyha Adkins scored three consecutive baskets to make it 10-8.
Troy ended the first quarter with an 11-10 lead.
“Shawnee had their run and we responded,” Johnson said. “You could see the girls starting to believe.”
Troy maintained a slim lead at the half, as they led 20-18 at the break.
“Lizze Weaver had a big first half for them and we didn’t shoot as well we should have,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately for us, Alaura Holycross picked up two fouls in second quarter, and without that post presence we weren’t efficient enough.”
“We talked about execution, and we switched to a zone at halftime to find their shooters. Offensively we were forcing some things and not letting the game come to us. We needed to run the offense through.”
Holycross established her presence in the third period with six points and dominated post according to Johnson.
“They had a tough time guarding her in the post,” he said. “For Shawnee, they stayed in the game late in the third with two big threes, and Troy trailed 34-32 heading to the fourth.
“My assistant wanted to press and go full court and get turnovers and easy baskets,” Johnson said. “The first five times they had the ball, they turned it over four times on us. We were then up due to the press on some easy baskets.”
But Johnson was concerned how well this team could handle being in a close game. He found out quickly in his first game with the Trojans.
“The part that concerned was how we were going to play with the lead,” he said. The composure they had was what I was looking for.”
With a minute to go, Shawnee hit a three to cut Troy’s lead to 44-43. Troy then tried to run the clock with 20 seconds left, and Hess his two free throws. Shawnee lost the ball to Adkins on a steal and the Trojans survived.
“The staff believes in this group, but we are not the ones on the floor,” Johnson said. “We told them to play for one another, and that began to happen in the fourth quarter. I have never seen them smile and be happy on the floor. That is what a team does, the come together as a team.
Adkins led with 14, Jordan Short added 11, Holycross had eight and Hess with seven for the Trojans.
Troy Boys Basketball - The Trojans boys’ team did not play on opening weekend, and will host Greenville this Friday in their first game of the new season.