Posted On: 12/16/17 1:30 PM
The the two inter-city rivals faced off at Troy Athens High School on a cold Friday night. Both teams were filled with seniors who showed that they have the ability to play at the next level. Troy Athens had a strong scoring backcourt of Jacob Brantley and Taylor McCaskill. Both possess a strong IQ as well as a strong scoring ability. Troy has the Team Basketball AAU big/guard duo of uncommitted guard, Jason Dietz and UofM Dearborn verbal commit, Danny Sully. Troy also has two players who are very low on the radar, but are big impact players. Big, Robbie Banas and wing, Cheikh Diop played exceptionally well in this big time matchup. Troy was coming off of a strong win against a strong Novi High School team filled with size, athleticism, and college bound talent. They were led by their senior floor general, Jason Dietz who totaled 34 points against the Novi Wildcats.
The game started off with two straight lefty finishes for Troy Athens’ McCaskill to give the Colts an early advantage. Troy Athens played tough hard nose defense right off of the tip. However, great ball movement from Troy as well as an early fast break slam from Troy’s Banas gave Troy their first lead. This is when the players on both sides started to really entertain the crowd. Banas’ slam was answered back by a McCaskill finish that dropped in off the glass. But the big man was not done, Troy answered with a Banas triple.
Banas as well as Sully showed their versatility throughout the ball game as they showed that they could shoot from deep. This triple was then followed by a three from Troy Athens’ Brantley and then a three from Troy’s Diop. Throughout the first quarter, Troy Athens’ gritty senior guard, Brantley showed strong on ball defense. The quarter ended with a 7-0 run from Troy, which gave them a 19-10 first quarter lead. Diop played strong on both ends of the court.
The beginning of the second quarter was filled with smart play from McCaskill. He showed his strong shooting ability as well as passing ability which halted a Troy run, keeping Troy Athens in the ball game. Dietz’s strong second quarter play retained a steady lead for the Colts. The anti-climatic end of the second quarter was due to very tight rims for both schools. At the break, Troy still controlled the ball game with a 28-20 lead. Diop led all scorers with 12 points.
The beginning of the second half brought both Troy and Troy Athens’ student sections to their feet with flashy finishes from senior guards, Dietz and McCaskill. Troy Athens was battling to stay in the contest while Troy was battling to pull away. Some players feed off of the energy from the opposing team’s crowd and some crumble under the pressure. Troy’s Sully fed off of Troy Athen’s taunts. Sully was almost automatic with the baseline drive which was his bread and butter this ball game. He would hit his defender with a solid up fake or jab step and get to the paint where he would finish or get to the line where he shot 5/8 against Troy Athens. Even when he did not have the ball in his hot spot, he was efficient. Sully showed his range from the outside, hitting a triple. The difference maker in this ball game was Troy’s 2-3 zone defense. Troy forced Troy Athens to take bad shots as well as make bad passes late in the third quarter. This resulted in a Troy run filled with many transition buckets to close out the third quarter. This run turned a single digit deficit to 18 points. Sully contributed an 8 point third quarter filled with rebounds and defensive stops.
As the Colts of Troy were ready to step onto the court to start the fourth quarter, their Head Coach, Gary Fralick, was seen telling them to not let up and continue with their tough 2-3 defense. However, this fourth quarter was a completely different story. Better ball movement and smarter choices by Troy Athens prompted a comeback . As the Redhawks deficit decreased, their defensive intensity increased dramatically their press forced many turnovers which resulted in a tear from Troy Athens guard, Brantley. He had ice in his veins in this fourth quarter. Troy tried to pull away but Brantley would not let up. As the buckets continued to come for Brantley, an 18 point fourth quarter deficit dropped to 5 points. And as this deficit quickly decreased, the Troy Athens’ student section’s volume quickly increased. This game was big. However, this 15 point fourth quarter from Brantley was not enough. The final two minutes consisted of Troy Athens scoring from the field and Troy converting from the line. Troy ended up winning this ball game with a score of 66-58. Troy was led by Danny Sully and Robbie Banas who contributed with 17 points and 16 points to go along with a ton of rebounds for the two bigs. Jason Dietz added 15 points and Cheikh Diop added 13 points. This 3-0 Troy team looks like they might be able to pull off another year stunning the state and going far in the tournament. For Troy Athens, they were led by Jacob Brantley with 24 points, 15 points from Taylor McCaskill, as well as 12 points from Brendt Stephens.
Two take aways from this matchup:
1- Troy is one of the most dominant teams in the OAA: After Troy’s 3-0 start, including a big win against Novi, it is about time that opponents start taking this team a bit more seriously. This team has six players on the roster standing at 6’4 or taller. One of those players being UofM Dearborn verbal commit, Danny Sully. Sully has strong post moves as well as a very versatile game. He is also a solid rim protector. They are also led by Jason Dietz, senior guard with an incredibly high IQ. It is going to be interesting to see how this team fairs against Hazel Park, a run-n-gun team that they will face twice this season.
2-Troy Athens’ back court is SKILLED: Jacob Brantley and Taylor McCaskill carried their team against Troy. Brantley kept his team in the game late, playing smart basketball and finishing at the rim against bigger defenders. McCaskill also performed well in this contest, finishing strong with the left and showing his stroke from inside and outside the arc. Both played strong defense in the half court and full court set.