BROOKVILLE — Troy Christian coach Tony Ferraro knew his team needed the defensive effort of the season as the sixth seeded Lady Eagles took on second seed Catholic Central in Brookville D-IV sectional action Wednesday night at Brookville High School.
And while there is no question they got that, it was a big play by Morgan Taylor and Sarah Johnson that gave the Eagles the momentum for good in a 44-37 victory that sends Troy Christian on to play Bradford in a D-IV sectional final game at 5 p.m. Monday at Fort Loramie High School.
“We were probably playing the best offensive team we have seen all season,” Ferraro said. “We knew we had to take away their two posts and I thought we did a great job of that.”
For Taylor, Troy Christian’s non-stop energy at the guard position, defense is right up her alley. She leads the Metro Buckeye Conference with more than four steals per game.
“That is our thing,” Taylor said about the defensive effort.
And with the game tied 35-35 in the final two minutes, Taylor and Johnson hooked up on a big play at the offensive end.
The Irish’s Jordyn Smoot had just tied the game with two free throws.
With the Eagles inbounding near mid-court, Catholic Central called timeout with 1:49 to go.
“We had Morgan (Taylor) and Johnny (Sarah Johnson) out there,” Ferraro said.
After catching the inbounds, Taylor found Johnson in the paint.
“That’s what I always do,” Taylor said. “I just try and get the ball to the open player.”
The 6-foot-2 post scored and was fouled and converted the “and-one” from the line to put Troy Christian in front 38-35 with 1:40 to go.
“To be honest with you, I was a little nervous,” Johnson said about the big shot. “But, I was able to make it.”
Then the Eagles defense came up with another big play.
Sydney Taylor stole the ball and when Erin Schenk was fouled, an intention foul was called.
Schenk hit both free throws to make it 40-35 and Sydney Taylor was fouled on the inbounds and hit one of two to make the lead 41-35 with just 53 seconds to go.
Schenk was 6-for-6 from the line in the fourth quarter and Troy Christian was eight of 10.
“We made our free throws in the fourth quarter,” Ferraro said. “And that is something we have not always done.’
Schenk grabbed a rebound and hit two more throws to make it 44-35 with 23.7 seconds to go and Troy Christian’s upset was secure.
“I just wanted to hold on to the ball (in the final minute), so they couldn’t score,” Taylor said.
It had been a close battle from the start.
Troy Christian led 10-8 after one quarter and 16-15 at halftime.
Catholic Central was up 31-29 after three quarters and led 33-32 when Morgan Taylor hit a moon-ball 3-pointer to put the Eagles in front 35-33.
That led to Smoot tying the game and the big finish by the Eagles.
In a balanced attack, Morgan Taylor, Schenk and Johnson all scored 11 points and Sydney Taylor added seven.
Mallory Mullen had a big game for Catholic Central with 17 points, Abigail Peterson added nine and Serenity Castle scored seven.
Troy Christian, now 12-6, moves on to play Bradford, while Catholic Central closes at 17-6.
“It feels great,” Johnson said about the win. “Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
With defense no doubt being a big part of that.