BY JAKE LOURIM
TROY — Troy’s boys basketball team knew it was in for a dogfight every night in the OAA Red Division this season.
And a dogfight it got against North Farmington Friday night.
North Farmington rolled into Troy and beat the Colts, 57-36, using a hot-shooting perimeter offense to hand Troy its fourth straight loss.
“We were just getting too timid,” Troy senior point guard Zak Noor said. “We worked our butts off, but people weren’t in the right spots.”
Troy (4-5, 2-2) got three-point contributions from Chris Dorsey and Ben Horvath and tied the game at 14 at the end of the first quarter. Soon, however, North Farmington settled into an aggressive zone trap defense that flustered Troy into 37 percent (15-for-41) shooting.
“We thought we had a good plan,” Troy coach Gary Fralick said. “We had a 2-1-2 set against it and we put guys in the deep corner. We spread the floor out as much as we could to get them to run and try to tire them out.”
North Farmington then drained four three-pointers in the second quarter to go into the locker room up by seven. The Raiders finished 10-for-21 from long range, while only 9-for-19 from inside the arc.
Still, the game was even in rebounds and turnovers at the break — until North Farmington wore down the Colts in the second half.
“We did a lot of things well in the first half — hit some shots, moved the ball,” Fralick said.
“We trapped for 32 minutes,” North Farmington coach Todd Negoshian said. “We play an up-tempo game. We make people play faster than they want to.”
Troy is usually an up-tempo team, but the Raiders pressured them defensively and forced them into ten second-half turnovers. Negoshian said he wanted his team to play fast on defense and slow on offense.
An 8-0 run near the end of the third quarter built the lead to 15, and the Raiders added another 11-0 spurt in the fourth quarter — keeping Troy scoreless for four and a half minutes — to go up by 25.
The pressure defense showed itself not only in the turnover numbers but in the shot percentages, too. With Troy taking quick shots, the Colts put up only 16 points from the end of the first quarter to the 90-second mark of the fourth quarter, a span of almost 23 minutes.
“The only way it works is if you’re flying around defensively and you play that hard for 32 minutes,” Negoshian said. “We just wanted to contest every shot.”
North Farmington used its size advantage to hold a 26-17 rebounding advantage, limiting Troy to five boards in the second half. The Raiders’ front line went 6-6, 6-4 and 6-4 with two 6-3 underclassmen coming off the bench.
“We work as hard as we can to make it difficult for them to score, but I think, to be honest with you, it wears down,” Fralick said.
Fralick added that his team was battling some illnesses all week.
“I thought we became less aggressive in the second half,” he said, “but also I thought we could’ve been possibly tired. I knew that sounds like an excuse, but it’s an explanation.”
Troy junior Chris Dorsey scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting with seven rebounds in the losing effort.
The Troy students showed up in large numbers and were loud for the first half, but they quieted down as North Farmington started to hit from the outside. The student section watched its Colts drop their third straight home game, nearly equaling the loss total from the previous two years.
But Troy has an opportunity for redemption soon. The Colts head to Warren Fitzgerald for a noon tip-off Saturday before returning to the league schedule Thursday at West Bloomfield.
“We just (need to be) calm and (work) together,” Noor said. “We’ll take it out on our next game.”
(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)