Trojans fell in two close games in opening weekend of season, while Wildcats won two close games.
TROY — The aches and pains were evident in limbs of Troy players on Saturday morning following an 81-74 overtime loss to Centerville on Friday night, according to Troy head coach Tim Miller.
“And there are more aches and pains in our guts after this game,” Miller said after Troy’s 50-45 loss to Tecumseh last Saturday. “We’ve got to get back at it and turn it around.”
Troy gets its chance to do just that tonight when Springfield comes to town for a GWOC crossover game at the Trojan Athletic Center. The Wildcats enter on the opposite end of the spectrum — Springfield won its first two games of the season over opening weekend, beating Lebanon 67-53 on Friday and dispatching Hamilton 53-52 on Saturday.
It’s a key early season game for both squads. Springfield will look to keep momentum going before a tough stretch of games against Wayne, Trotwood-Madison, and Northmont later this month, while Troy is looking to pick up some momentum — and a win.
“We don’t want to be 0-3 after Tuesday,” Miller said.
Springfield is coming off a 6-15 season which saw the Wildcats get out to a 4-1 start. Springfield head coach Isiah Carson said one of the Wildcats biggest problems last season was inconsistency.
“We didn’t have a lot of experience and we kept making mistakes,” Carson said after a 57-41 win over Graham in a Foundation Game on Nov. 26. “That’s one of the biggest things we’ve been working on with the guys, being consistent and playing a full game.”
Much of Troy’s early season troubles are identical to what Springfield suffered last season. The Wildcats return eight varsity players from last season, including four starters. Troy meanwhile returns only two varsity players and one starter from last season.
Miller said Troy’s inexperience played a factor in its first two losses.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who don’t have much varsity experience,” Miller said. “That hurt tonight, and we were hurting physically too. If we were in the middle of the season and you had a couple of battles like we’ve had the last two nights, your body’s already in good enough of shape and it’s going to respond back. And (Centerville) was a grueling, physical battle. With it being the first game of the year, it took a toll on us, physically and mentally.”
Troy’s lone returning starter is senior forward Tyler Miller, who was a first-team GWOC North Division player last season. Miller scored 19 points for Troy against Centerville and had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Tecumseh.
“He’s going to be a key for success for us this year,” Miller said of Tyler Miller. “He plays hard on both sides of the ball and he’s a leader.”
Troy has also benefited from the addition of senior guard Jalen Nelson, who transferred to Troy from Wayne. Nelson scored 22 points against Centerville and scored four points against Tecumseh.
“He’s got a strong character and has fit in with our kids since day one,” Miller said of Nelson. “He’s a nice leader for us and is a very coachable young man. He gives everything he’s got on the floor in practice and in games.”
Springfield has been led by senior guard Ryan Minney so far this season. Minney scored 19 points for Springfield against Lebanon and had 14 points against Hamilton, including a game-winning free throw late in the game. Minney averaged 14.2 points per game last season.
“He’s going to be a leader for us,” Carson said of Minney. “He struggled sometimes last year but he’s worked real hard in summer and in practice so far this year.”
Carson also expects senior center Sean Burroughs to contribute more offensively for Springfield this season. Burroughs, who was ineligible for half of last season, is averaging 11.5 rebounds per game and five blocks per game through Springfield’s first two games. He scored eight points against Lebanon and two points against Hamilton.
“Sean’s going to have blocks, and Sean’s going to rebound the ball; that’s a given,” Carson said. “Sean’s a much more capable player than just that. He’s been doing a great job of doing more offensively lately in scrimmages and practice.”
Carson said Springfield’s success will depend on its consistency.
“We’ve got to do a better job of executing and taking care of the ball,” Carson said. “We can’t rely on depending on our athleticism to get the job done.”
Miller said Troy must improve on shot selection against Springfield.
“We were settling for quick shots tonight we shouldn’t have,” Miller said. “Quick shots translated to long rebounds, and long rebounds translated to easy baskets at the other end. We weren’t getting back in transition and (Tecumseh) was getting wide-open looks. We can’t do that against Springfield.”
The game tips off at 7:30 p.m.
Listen live to Springfield at Troy tonight on the Top Billing Sports Network starting at about 7 PM. The Top Billing Sports Network is the best place for high school basketball broadcasts this season. We’ll broadcast 24 regular season games this year. We’ll broadcast seven games involving Springfield and two games involving Troy this season. Listen live at the Trojan Athletic Center on 105.3 FM tonight, and listen everywhere around the world on our online streaming radio station.