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BOYS BASKETBALL: Troy squanders late lead, Pontiac steals overtime win

| March 3, 2013 | Comments (0)

BY JAKE LOURIM

STUDENT CORRESPONDENT

j.lourim@comcast.net

 

 

TROY — Back and forth the ball went: on the floor, back toward the hoop, back toward the floor.

Soon, Pontiac finally scored an offensive rebound. And soon, the Phoenix had upset Troy.

Troy led by eight with 2:53 left in the game but couldn’t seal the win on Senior Night, losing to Pontiac 66-63 in overtime in the OAA Red Division and.

The Colts didn’t score for the last 3:42 of regulation.

“The momentum changed,” senior guard Zak Noor said. “We just needed to box out and get the 50-50 balls. We wanted it, but we didn’t want it as bad as they did.”

The Phoenix went on an 8-0 run over a span of 1:02 to tie the game with 1:51 left. That was the score at the end of regulation, as Troy stopped two driving layups in the final five seconds.

“Turnovers, lack of defensive rebounding, not taking really high percentage shots,” Fralick listed. “I just thought we didn’t execute. We didn’t get the loose balls.”

Solid on the glass nearly all night, the Colts surrendered an advantage on the boards in overtime and couldn’t recover. Although they held a 38-33 advantage at the end, they were outrebounded in overtime.

Much of that statistic came with 1:49 left, when Pontiac scored on its fourth chance, grabbing three offensive rebounds. After the teams traded baskets, the Phoenix still led by one with 49.6 seconds left and never gave up another basket.

“You’ve got to secure that ball,” Fralick said.

Pontiac’s athleticism proved too much to handle, as Troy’s ball movement was guarded tightly by the quick Phoenix.

“We didn’t take care of the ball like we should have,” senior guard Joe Leonard said. “We’ve got to keep the floor spread and keep the ball off the sidelines so they can’t double us.”

 

With only two team fouls at the 30-second mark in overtime, Troy had to foul quickly, and Pontiac guard Dijon Cogdell hit two free throws to stretch the lead to three with 21.2 seconds left.

Noor’s 3-pointer was blocked on the ensuing possession. The Colts got one last chance when Pontiac missed the front end of the next one-and-one, but Ben Horvath’s last-ditch 3 just missed.

Inbounding from the near side, Troy had Horvath start at the far side and curl around two staggering screens on the 3-point line, then catch the pass on the left wing and shoot. Pontiac was all over it, and there was no time to penetrate and kick the ball out.

Junior Danny Wunderlich finished with seven points and 14 rebounds, continuing his streak of strong post play. Leonard snapped out of a brief shooting slump by going four-for-ten for 12 points. Junior Demonta Hood led the team with 15 points off the bench.

The Colts also started to open up their perimeter game, hitting eight 3-pointers led by Leonard’s four.

“We’ve been running plays through our blitz game,” said Leonard, who added that he and Horvath move to opposite corners when they run the floor, then switch corners to try to lose their defenders on the baseline.

The game was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout, even in the third quarter. Leonard hit two 3s in the first two minutes to build Troy’s lead up to eight. Pontiac, however, quickly negated that by hitting five straight shots in an 11-3 lead over the next 2:20. At the third- quarter buzzer, senior Ben Horvath fed Hood for a 3 from the corner, setting the stage for a wild ending.

“Better sharing of the ball, better cuts to the basket, better execution,” Fralick said of his team’s perimeter improvement. “I’ve always thought we’re better shooters than we have shown this year, and we’re starting to come out of a shooting slump a little bit.”

Troy won at Pontiac 63-59 on Jan. 29, and the Phoenix have since lost their leading scorer. But they shot 48 percent from the floor and 52 percent from inside the arc.

The ending is especially sour for the seniors, who suffered a rare home loss. They will have to quickly regroup before a district showdown next week against the winner of Waterford Mott and Auburn Hills Avondale. Mott and Auburn Hills Avondale play Monday at 7 p.m., and Troy plays the winner on Wednesday.

Troy beat Avondale on Feb. 4 and lost to Mott in last year’s district title 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 j.lourim@comcast.net)

 

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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