Trotwood dodges Piqua’s upset bid

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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She scored 14 points in Trotwood-Madison's 46-37 defeat of visiting Piqua on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Henry Benton, Trotwood-Madison’s girls basketball coach, had a surprise for the Rams last August: cross-country.

After two double-digit win teams, the Rams took a dip last season. Benton knew just what was needed.

“We ran cross-country to build our stamina and that’s helped us to get us to where we are now,” said senior Taj Thompson after a 46-37 defeat of pesky Piqua in a high school basketball game Wednesday night. “It was a great experience and it’s paying off right now. I’m glad we did it.”

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Trotwood (9-1, 4-0) leads in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American South by one game over newcomer Stebbins (9-2, 3-1). Trotwood already owns a 60-51 defeat of Stebbins, which jumped from the Central Buckeye Conference to the GWOC last fall. Another showdown Feb. 8 at Trotwood likely will decide the divisional champion.

Trotwood began the season 7-0 before losing to Fairmont, 46-34. The Rams appear destined to earn a high seed in the Division II sectional at Springfield.

Relying on relentless full-court defensive pressure and an up-tempo offense, the Rams did just enough to dodge Piqua’s upset bid. Thompson led Trotwood with 14 points and Alyssa Curry and Kellah Flucas added 11 apiece. Junior guard Lily Stewart hit a couple of 3-pointers and led Piqua (2-8) with 16 points.

This is the first season the Rams have fielded freshman, JV and varsity girls teams under Benton’s guidance.

“The program is coming along,” said Benton, who has former Thurgood Marshall girls coach Tobette Brown among his assistants. “We had a down year last (season) but we’ve bounced back pretty good. One of the things they did is they all ran cross-country (last) fall to help their conditioning. If you watch us play you can see it’s really paying dividends because we don’t get tired. We just keep coming (at teams).”

Piqua is hoping to break out of the GWOC American North cellar. This is coach Brian Gillespie’s third season at Piqua and he likes the progress the Indians have made.

“It’s all about the culture,” said Gillespie, previously an assistant at Fairmont under then-head coach Tim Cogan.

“It comes down to the expectations and the expectations needed to be there. I decided when I took that job I told our AD Chip Hare that I’m going to raise the expectations and whoever falls along is going to be with me and whoever doesn’t, that’s going to be their decision. That’s how you have to build a program.”

Piqua defeated Bethel in the season opener and was coming off a 56-48 defeat of Graham. In between were several close defeats in which the Indians contended, like against Trotwood.

“It’s a school that hasn’t had a lot of (girls basketball) success, but we’re building something pretty special,” Gillespie said. “Nobody works harder than our kids and we’ve really built a culture in a couple years. It’s taken a minute; nothing’s easy especially with our history at Piqua. But our kids have taken it to a different level. Our whole mantra is raise the bar.”


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