BY JAKE LOURIM
BIRMINGHAM — Nate Bladecki couldn’t believe just how big Troy’s second-quarter run was Thursday afternoon.
“Twenty-two to zero?” he said.
The 22-0 onslaught helped the Troy boys basketball team cruise past Dearborn Divine Child in the Motor City Roundball Classic, 66-39.
Divine Child took the early 9-5 lead, but the Colts applied pressure in a 2-2-1 full-court zone that moved to a 2-3 zone in the half court. They forced ten turnovers in the first half and converted them at the other end.
The tempo was slow early on before Troy sped it up in transition. Divine Child’s half-court defense was solid, but the Colts’ fast break was too much to handle.
The Falcons did not hit a basket in the second quarter.
“Our best offense was our defense, the pressure that we put on defense,” Fralick said. “We bring up our zone higher, so we put more pressure on the point guard and on the wings. I think we got them a little bit nervous on offense. Uncomfortable is the best word to use.”
Junior Craig Duggan, senior Zak Noor, junior Chris Dorsey and Bladecki all got in on the 22-0 run. By halftime eight players had scored, including Bladecki and Dorsey with 11 points each.
Troy had 10 steals, led by Bladecki, Dorsey and Joe Leonard with two apiece.
Troy shot just 25 percent from long range in the first half, but converted 61 percent from inside the arc.
Bladecki, only a sophomore, made his first varsity start in place of Noor, who sat out the first five minutes for an “internal situation.” He finished with 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“He made some good decisions and finished some layups for us, finished the fast break for us,” Fralick said. “He’s probably the best guy we have on this team to push the ball. He pushes it up quicker than anybody else on the team.”
“I thought he did a good job,” said Dorsey, who finished with a team-high 15 points and hit his first five shots. “He pushed the ball up and made good decisions.”
Bladecki learned he would start at the Colts’ 9-10 a.m. shoot-around. He then had a couple hours to prepare before the game at 2:20.
“I was pretty nervous, making my first start as a sophomore,” Bladecki said. “I knew I had to take it easy and come out and play my game.”
Neither Bladecki nor the rest of the team showed any signs of rust after taking Christmas Eve and Christmas off practice. Bladecki played with energy and intensity, pushing the ball in transition.
“I tried to run the offense, just find the shooters,” Bladecki said. “We like to run, and that’s what we did today.”
Troy forced three turnovers in the final minute of the first half, leading a quick 7-0 spurt that sent the Colts to the locker room up 38-14. They had outrun and outplayed a solid Catholic League team.
Noor came in at the 3:01 mark and also hustled. He finished with eight rebounds, three rebounds and three assists. Dorsey and Duggan added six and five boards, respectively.
Troy’s foul trouble and big lead brought all 12 players into the game. With two minutes left in the first half, Bladecki, Noor, Dorsey, Austin Perry and Duggan each had two fouls.
That brought in players like Devon Alexander (five rebounds) and Tommy Richardson and Demonta Hood (two points each).
Troy tailed off in the third quarter as Divine Child hit five straight shots to cut the deficit to 17. But that was as far as it got.
The Falcons outrebounded Troy 7-4 in the third quarter and won in turnovers 3-1. They moved the ball around, shooting jumpers and inside layups, and reached their first-half point total within the first five minutes.
“That’s just human nature,” Fralick said. “You’re up 24 at halftime and you don’t quite give that same effort.”
The coach attributed the Colts’ fast start to an earlier practice time (9 a.m.) and better practices.
(Jake Lourim is a senior at Troy High School and a member of the S.H.P. Media Group / www.northoaklandsports.com Student Correspondence Program. He is publisher of website www.troycoltsportsupdate.com and a member of the Troy school newspaper editorial staff. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)