Troy boys down Towanda, leave NTL East tied
TROY - The Towanda Black Knights hoped that Friday would end with them cutting down the nets as NTL East champions.
The Trojans had a different idea.
Towanda jumped out to an 11-0 lead, but Troy fought back and took the lead in the third quarter and never looked back on their way to a 53-35 win.
The Troy win drops Towanda into a tie with Athens atop the NTL East standings and the two teams will meet in a playoff, likely Monday, to determine the championship.
While the Trojans were out of playoff contention they had one big thing on their mind on Friday, defending their home court and ending the season on a high note.
"It shows how good of a team we can actually be," Jed Wright said of the victory.
Knowing that Towanda could win the league title on their court with a victory was something that motivated Troy.
"We didn't want them to cut down the nets," Wright said. "We wanted to protect our home court."
In the early going it was all Towanda as Noah Huff and David Rodenhizer combined for eight first-quarter points as the Black Knights jumped out to the double-digit lead.
"At that time we had to get a timeout," Troy coach Bob Woodward said. "They are a well coached team with Ryan Napp and they come right at you."
However, from there on the Troy defense shut down the Black Knights two leading scorers, holding Rodenhizer scoreless the rest of the game and Huff scoreless in the second half.
"That was our focus," Woodward said. "We knew they have got some outstanding guards and we were fortunate enough to stop them and not foul them and put them on the foul line."
Down big the Trojans fought back, cutting the deficit to 15-8 after one quarter and 25-20 at the half.
In the third quarter Troy's offense started to come alive as Wright found Ryan Reeves for an ally-oop layup and then Wright hit back-to-back threes with six minutes left in the third to give Troy their first lead at 28-25.
"I thought as our offense started coming around our shooters really produced," Woodward said.
Troy's players knew that once they got down they needed everyone to help with the comeback.
"It was a complete team effort," Wright said. "Everyone did their part for us to come out on top."
Towanda got the game tied at 30 after a Joel Miller three with 3:45 left in the third, but Chad Cole scored and Gage Burns hit a free throw to put Troy up 33-30 after three quarters.
In the fourth Evan Polly converted on a three-point play to put Troy up 36-30, before Miller hit a three to cut the deficit to 36-33.
Thomas Swain answered with a three and Polly hit a floater in the lane and Reeves followed with two free throws and suddenly Troy was up 43-33.
After Troy struggled at the foul line in the first three quarters, shooting 4-for-11, the Trojans started to hit those free throws down the stretch, converting on 13-for-21 in the fourth.
"We knew we had to make them to seal the win," Chad Cole said.
For Troy's players there were some nerves, but everyone stepped up.
"It was the most nervous I have ever felt," Polly said. "Ryan (Reeves) made some big free throws."
Bailey Potter hit a three for Towanda to cut the deficit to seven, but the Black Knights would get no closer.
"Since Christmas we have chipped away at it," Woodward said of the Trojans slow start to the season while they dealt with injuries. "We have referred to it as climbing the mountain. The kids have taken leadership roles. Jed is an outstanding leader the kids have gotten better."
Throughout the game the Black Knights tried to press Troy's guards and throughout the game Wright had success breaking their press.
"They did it the first time we played and had success," Wright said. "We tried to improve from the first time and it paid off."
Woodward has seen a big improvement in Wright since his return from injury.
"He has done a really good job of being a hard worker even when he was out he worked on his ball handling," Woodward said. "The last four or five games he has become an outstanding point guard."
With Wright getting through the press it opened things up for his teammates to get some easy looks.
"It left people open down court," Cole said.
For Cole and Tariq Wianavski the Trojans two seniors this was the perfect end to their careers.
"It's always nice to end with a win," Cole said.
Wright led all scorers with 20 points and Polly had 11 in the game.
Reeves had seven points for Troy and Cole had six, while Swain had five and Brandon Mattocks had three points. Burns chipped in with one point.
Towanda was led by Miller with 10 and Huff with eight, while Garrett Mosier had seven points.
Noah Wheeler had four points, Rodenhizer and Bailey had three and Brandon Dinelli had two, while Brad Sparbanie added one point.
Miller had six boards, three blocks and a steal and Mosier had 10 rebounds in the game, while Huff had four boards and two blocks and Wheeler had four boards and one block.
With all but two players on their roster returning next year Troy hopes that ending this year with a big win can carry over into next year.
"We just beat the team that could be league champs," Polly said. "We want to make a run at it next year."
Towanda won the JV game 77-27 with Jarod Boardman scoring 20, Tristan James getting 12 and Nick Innocenzo scoring 11. Jared Murray had 10 for Troy in the game.