Monday, March 01, 2021

Eureka boys top young Troy squad

The Western News | January 19, 2021 7:00 AM


Junior Tyler Munts launches a pass during the Trojans' Jan. 16 game against Eureka. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

The Eureka Lions tore through the Troy Trojans 68-27 in their first intra-county skirmish of the year.

The Jan. 16 game left the Troy boys varsity basketball team with a record of 0-4 for the season.

Junior Micheal Foote led the Trojans on the scoreboard with 12 points. Sophomore Paxton Fisher followed with nine points. Eureka’s top scorer, Dann Dunn racked up 12 points.

The Trojans came out sluggish in the first quarter. Eureka made them pay dearly for the slow start, racking up a 30-8 lead.

“It was really slow in the beginning,” said senior Jace Fisher. “Our defense was definitely not there.”

Taking a timeout to gather the team, Trojan head coach Justin Young said he had his players focus on filling in the gaps in their zone defense. Offensively, the Trojans worked on slowing their pace to reduce the Lion’s time of possession.

The strategy allowed Troy to stop some of the bleeding in the second quarter. Eureka's tight zone defense kept it difficult for the Trojans. Turnovers allowed the Lions to make a series of fast break layups.

Eureka closed out the half with a 45-13 lead.

Young attributed the errors largely to the team’s inexperience. Before this year’s season opener, none of the players had varsity starting experience. In total, only eight high school boys came out for the team.

Due to the low turnout, Young had to pull up some eighth graders at the start of the season to round out the junior varsity squad. By the Jan. 16 game, two eighth graders were on the varsity bench.

In the third quarter, the Trojans succeeded at breaking through the Lion’s 1-3-1 defense on a couple occasions and were able to get the ball into the paint. Foote and sophomore Trevor Grant scored in the key on back-to-back plays.

Young said the team was able to see the gaps in the Lions’ defense when they slowed down. Earlier in the game, the Trojans were more apt to force passes than take the easy pass. Young highlighted Grant as a player who did a good job of being patient on offense and exploiting holes in Eureka’s defense.

The Lions had a lead of 61-21 going into the fourth quarter.

Troy eventually switched to a man-to-man defense. Due to the team’s inexperience, Young said zone was not an effective strategy for the Trojans.

“I’m a firm believer that to run a zone effectively, you have to work harder than you would in a man defense,” he said.

For the rest of the season, Young said Trojan coaches had decided to hammer in one basic skill at each practice. In the coming week, Troy will be focusing on jamming cutters and catching the ball in triple threat position.

“Sometimes, it's just the simple things that make the big dividends,” said Young.

The Trojans hit the road to play Lakeside on Jan. 22.