Trojans pull ahead in the second quarter and run away from Miami Valley in the third.
TROY — Southeastern may have been a big favorite to win its first tournament game on Saturday, but the players were still a bit nervous according to head coach Brian Hecker. The Trojans hadn’t won a tournament game since 2013, and they didn’t expect to show up and win easily.
The Trojans had a slow start after Miami Valley played close in the game’s first 12 minutes, but by the final buzzer, they made it look easy. Southeastern pulled ahead in the second quarter and cruised to a 78-35 sectional tournament win over the Rams at Troy High School.
“The kids are definitely happy to get a tournament win and get going,” Hecker said. “… I took us a little while getting used to the big gym. But I think once we got going, the kids got more comfortable, and that’s what we wanted to see.”
Southeastern, the No. 2 seed in Troy’s Division IV sectional, scored the last six points of the first to take a 15-7 lead. But the No. 11 seed Rams prevented the Trojans from running away for most of the second quarter. Suneeth Choudary hit a three-pointer with about two minutes left to cut Miami Valley’s deficit to 29-21.
But the Trojans scored the last eight points of the second to take a 16-point halftime lead. The momentum carried into the third quarter as Southeastern outscored Miami Valley 23-8 to put the game away.
Hecker said the team played better after it worked more on defense in the second half. The Trojans held Miami Valley to 15 points in the game’s final 18 minutes.
“We just defended better,” Hecker said. “It really wasn’t anything special we did. We knew that they were going to try to get three’s up, and there was a stretch where we weren’t contesting and weren’t even matched up. Once we got matched up and got on them a little bit, we defended well the rest of the game.”
Southeastern shot 33-for-63 (52.3 percent) from the field and outrebounded Miami Valley 32-20. The Rams shot 10-of-36 (27.7 percent) from the field, including 4-of-18 from two-point range. Andrew Lyons led the Trojans with 18 points while Jake Beretemes scored 17 and brought down six rebounds.
Southeastern will play Troy Christian in a second-round sectional game on Wednesday. Troy Christian (9-13) enters the tournament after losing four of its final regular season games.
Though the Eagles are in rebuilding mode after two straight trips to the district finals, Hecker said Southeastern is not going to take them lightly.
“They’re a good team and they’re well coached,” Hecker said. “They play really, really hard and that’s something that we’ll have to do. We’ll have to be ready to match their intensity.”
Miami Valley finishes with a 6-16 record. The Rams will have most of their team back next year. Choudary, who led the team with 12 points, is the only senior who played on Saturday.