Miami East showed why it will again be a tough out come TRC, or tournament play, shooting and sharing the basketball in a ten-point win over Troy in the Trojans’ home opener.
Troy, OH – A great crowd showed up for Troy’s home opener Tuesday night at the Activity Center, and for all but the final score Troy fans could have gone home in an optimistic state of mind.
The 1-1 Trojans lost to Miami East, 59-49. Simply, they didn’t play nearly as well as they did in their opener last Friday in Sidney. Still, they were competitive, could have been better…and frankly, lost to one of the area’s better Division III basketball teams coming off an 11-point loss to Chaminade-Julienne on Saturday.
“I wasn’t happy with our effort,” said Trojan coach Mark Hess. “We weren’t the same team that we were in Sidney. They got too many offensive rebounds, loose basketballs, they just made the tougher plays. We’ve got to do something to get back to the kind of effort we had against Sidney.”
If only it were that simple. East is a handful, even without senior Wes Enis, who left the Vikings’ roster last week…but left behind plenty of firepower in senior Jacob Roeth (17), Devon Abshire (22), and Connor Apple (8), who combined to score 47 of East’s total of 59 points.
But it was the manner in which they scored that caused Troy to play catch-up basketball for the bulk of the game. The Vikings never settled for the three-point shot, hitting just 2 of 7…while constantly attacking the rim, forcing Troy to either contest those shots, or foul. As a result, Troy played on the defensive all night, and trailed continually by 8 to 10 points.
“We told our guys to be on their toes,” said Viking coach Justin Roeth. “We felt like from the start we got them on their heels. And once we got them there we tried to dig deep and keep attacking.
“We’re aware that a lot of people will try to take charges this year on us because we do go hard to the rim…but we were under control tonight and did a really good job of attacking, attacking, attacking…from start to finish.”
Troy never led, trailing 17-9 at the end of the first quarter, and 30-20 at the halftime break. But the play of senior forward Kellen Miller kept Troy close enough to make a charge in the second half.
Miller, a 6’6″ shooter, led the Trojans with 18 points through his ability to take tough shots – contested shots – and make them.
“He’s really tough in the mid-range,” said Justin Roeth. “He’s really good with that turn-around shot and we tried to do some things differently on him, but he continued to score on us all night.”
Miller’s shooting came at opportune times, helping the Trojans cut the East lead to five points in the final moments of the third quarter.
But Devon Abshire would catch fire to score 12 of his 22 points during that same span to negate Miller, keeping East comfortably ahead by that same 8 to 10-point margin. Abshire and Roeth set a tone for East…take good shots, high-percentage shots, and make them. The Vikings finished having shot 51.8% from the floor. Kaden Francis and Kamden Wolfe each added 2 points for the Vikings, while Ty Rohrer finished with 6 points.
Troy shot 10% worse from the floor, led by Miller’s 18…Bryce Haught had 11, Aiden Luis had 8, Evan Kaiser had 4, and Isaac Burns and freshman Brady O’Leary each finished with 2 points each.
“Credit East, they played hard and we knew we would need the effort we had on Friday,” added Hess. “They got on us early, they attacked, and we weren’t tough enough, especially defensively, and that never allowed us much of a chance. We couldn’t get the stops we needed, and they took advantage of our errors and not being 100% focused.”
As for East, they again will be a team of anticipation and expectation, even without Enis.
“I think our guys believe now that we can be very good, even with what transpired last week,” added Justin Roeth. “We run a very disciplined program, kids know their roles, they accept those roles, and within the last week we saw a lot of kids begin to flourish.
“Connor Apple is the example. He took the ball to the rim tonight more than he has for the previous three years he’s played at the varsity level. Devon (Abshire) is very good at shooting the mid-range shot, our freshman (Rohrer) is a phenomenal defensive player, and this team really believes in those kind of little detail things. And when teams begin to believe in the small details, I think big things come of it.”
Mark Hess admits that Troy is young, after losing three-quarters of the roster last year due to graduation.
“We’re still young, we’re still new with each other, and we’re still trying to figure it all out,” he said with a sigh.
They host Tipp on Friday, with an eye out for the effort that helped them beat Sidney…and wary of those deficiencies that hurt them against East. Either way, time is on their side.
Every Trojan knows…that Rome wasn’t built in a day.