Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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In a game of runs and turnovers, Tipp used its defense and a huge night by senior Gavin Garletz to sweep the conference season series from Troy, 58-48.

Tipp City, OH – In the end Troy coach Mark Hess could have claimed a nine-point improvement over the first time his Trojans (8-11) lost to Tipp back in December (64-45).  But even with some parts missing due to illness, and grades, and stuff like that…it could have been SO much better.

As it was, Tipp improved to 13-3 Saturday night (12-1 in MVL) with a 58-48 win that at times was ragged and out of character for a Red Devil team that’s feasted on its efficiency this year.

It could have been better, because…in a game of runs and turnovers – or sloppy play, however you call it – Troy simply came up one run short to making the end as nerve-wracking as they made the beginning.

The Trojans roared out of the gate to take an 8-1 lead in the first quarter before Tipp could wipe the sleep from their eyes.  In fact, it looked like they’d just awakened from a long winter’s nap.  Troy’s Isaac Phillips, Noah Davis, and Zach King did the scoring damage before Tipp righted itself to go on a six-point run and finally take an 11-10 lead.  They would eventually finish the quarter with a 19-14 advantage, thanks to six points from Stanley Clyne and a pair of three-pointers from Gavin Garlitz, the overture to what would be an operatic night for the 6’2″ Devils’ senior.

That set the stage for more of what the locals have come to expect from Tipp in the second quarter, hustle and defense and more predictable play…but with an asterisk.  Tipp also turned the ball over five times in the quarter (9 for the half) while allowing Troy to score just 2 points – a bucket at the rim by Zach King.  They led 27-16 at the half, but played like a lawn mower engine that doesn’t start when you pull the rope.

Troy came out hot, Charlie Walker helping them to an early 8-1 (above).

“It kinda’ looked like two teams that hadn’t practiced during a couple of snow days,”  Tipp coach Adam Toohey later described it.  “It was a highly competitive game, very physical like it always is when we play them, but it just looked like we were off a bit offensively.  Our defense picked us up…Maddox Sivon helped us a lot at the top of our zone and helped create some turnovers.”

Basketball is a game of momentum and runs, and Troy proved that at the start of the third quarter.  They immediately wiped out that 11-point Tipp lead with 10-2 run, thanks to an Isaac Phillips 3-pointer and a scoring spurt by Charlie Walker, who would end up scoring 10 points in the quarter.

Game of runs?  Tipp called a time out to pour some water on Troy’s fire…and came out of the timeout to go on a 10-2 run of their own.

“We were still in the locker room,”  said Toohey of the Troy burst to start the second half.  “We came out kinda’ flat, we didn’t take it strong to the rim, we settled on some other shots, and it just looked like we weren’t on the same page.  We were missing Griffin Caldwell due to illness, and we had a different rotation without him.  Liam (Poronsky) stepped up, Evan (Manes) stepped up, and some of our other guys really helped out.”

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Tipp’s 10-2 signaled the emergence of Garlitz who more than helped out, hitting a pair of 3s on his way to an 8-point quarter, and eventually a 24-point night…his most efficient game of the year.  One of the other guys who really helped out was Josh Dietz, who likewise had a 3-pointer (and 5 points) to lift Tipp out to a 20-point quarter and a 47-35 lead by its end.

Obviously Troy’s focus was to not let Stanley Clyne score 30, which he proved he could do two weeks ago against Piqua.  What they hadn’t counted on was Garletz, who more than doubled his season’s average while scoring from all points on the court.

Tipp’s Liam Poronsky looks for an open teammate along the baseline.

“Stanley’s been our main guy for most of the season so we know people are going to change things and guard him tighter,”  said Garlitz.  “We had to do some different things on offense tonight, and I got going and stepped up in that spot like a senior and a leader.  We’re pretty good at reads and making the right decisions and that’s what I did tonight.”

In the meantime Troy’s hustle and tough-mindedness would not allow Tipp to pull away, or creep out to a 20-point margin as they had done in December.  Playing ‘young’, Phillips (11 pts.) Charlie Walker (13 pts), Noah Davis (9 pts.) and Kellen Miller (6 pts.) kept playing, battling, and held Tipp’s margin to around 8 points.

But Garlitz was the difference this time, scoring 14 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.  And after an 8-point first half, Clyne matched that in the second half while picking up a couple of assists along the way.  Between the two, Garlitz and Clyne would finish with 40 of the Red Devils’ total of 58 points.  Dietz would add 7, Cole Coppock, Poronsky, and Manes would each score 3, and Jackson Smith would add two. They didn’t hit 13 three-pointers like they did against Piqua, but they did account for 7 of them, on 18 attempts (38.8%).

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In a case of woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’, Troy actually outscored Tipp 13-11 in the final quarter, but turnovers and their inability to quell Gavin Garlitz, whose extra twelve points, turned out to be the difference in a 58-48 outcome.

“I thought we started out doing a really good job of executing,”  said Troy coach Mark Hess.  “We had practiced against their 1-3-1, we anticipated it, and as the game went on they took away some things.  Our execution wasn’t as crisp, and we just had too many turnovers (17 for the game).

Not this time…Tipp’s Gavin Garlitz had a big night, but Troy’s Kellen Miller swatted this shot attempt in the fourth quarter.

“They’re long, they’re athletic, and their pressure hurt us.  Practicing against our JVs isn’t the same as practicing against their 6’5″ and 6’4″.  We had some passes that we forced, and they just did a good job of taking away some looks and forcing us to be patient.”

Troy now stands at .500 in conference play (8-8).

The tournament draw is this weekend and Tipp, while unranked in this week Division II poll, they proved again Saturday that their style of play, size notwithstanding, poses a thorn in the side of a lot of teams that are ranked.

They share the ball, they’re aggressive, they defend, shoot 3s, and they capitalize at the foul line.

They can even play ragged, like a team that hadn’t practiced during a couple of snow days.

A chilling simile!

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