By Aidan Joly
CLIFTON PARK – Shenendehowa made a furious comeback in the final few minutes but they came up just short, falling to Troy 60-56 Friday night at Shenendehowa High School.
The Flying Horses led by 15 with four minutes to go and starting to create separation, but Shen was not going to go quietly on their home court. They made a quick rally in the final few minutes of the night behind scores from Jake Reinisch, Andrew Martin and Lucus Seyoum to cut the deficit to three with under 30 seconds to play. However, a clutch free throw from Troy’s Latyce Faison and an offensive foul on the Plainsmen with under 10 seconds left sealed the deal, with Troy barely holding on for the win after having a big lead late.
It was a night of clutch plays for Troy as they needed them throughout the night with the game being close until the first few minutes of the fourth. Every time Shenendehowa would make a run at Troy, the Flying Horses would have an answer for them. It was most apparent through the play of both Nazaire Merritt and Faison, who combined for 50 of the team’s 60 points on the night and hit 12 three-pointers between the two.
Coming into the second half with his team leading by three, Merritt came up huge as he hit a trio of threes as part of an 11-point quarter for him. He finished with 24 points.
(Nazaire Merritt of Troy being guarded by Shenendehowa's T.J. Sangare)
“He’s just a guy who has the ability to see the moment and put it on his shoulders and when he rises up like that as a senior, I’m so proud of him to be able to do that,” Troy head coach Greg Davis said.
However, Faison had his share of big moments. He hit three shots from behind the arc in the second quarter and hit seven in total as part of a 26-point night. The biggest pair came in the fourth when he hit them back-to-back to extend the Troy lead from nine to 15. He had another huge one to end the first half, hitting one to beat the buzzer, giving the Flying Horses a five-point lead at the break.
Troy hit 12 three-pointers on the night, contrary to Shen’s five, but the mistakes of the Plainsmen, especially turnovers, proved costly to them in the long run.
“As far as the score and even the tempo of the game, I don’t mind it, I think we can run with teams like you saw at the end but I think we just gave the ball up, you can’t give the ball away,” Shenendehowa head coach Tony Dzikas said.
Many of those turnovers came in a fast-paced first quarter that saw Troy score 21 points and force Shen into turnovers numerous times, leading to easy scores.
“They were tremendous on defense, we struggled handling the ball,” Dzikas added.
Shen falls to 4-3 in league play, and 5-5 overall.
The Plainsmen were led in scoring by Jake Reinisch with 14 points and Andrew Martin added 12 points.
Troy continues to be undefeated in the league, at 6-0 now. They are 6-1 overall heading into some tough competition.
Davis said, “We have some quality wins against quality opponents, but it only gets harder. Columbia’s a great team, Schenectady is very tough next week for us. Still have Bethlehem, still have CBA, we have all those teams to play and we just need to be ready every night.”