TROY – “For most of these players it is their first time starting varsity,” remarked coach Troy Myers after the game. “So for them it is going to be a trial by fire early in the season.”
And it was a trial by fire for the team as they had to play an away game in a loud gym against a good Troy Christian team. Franklin-Monroe tried to grind out a win, but fell short in the final minute 44-42.
The Jets got an early lead in the game and were up 12-6 at the end of the first quarter. Ethan Conley and Jackson Crist paced the scoring for the team, but the Eagles sparked a rally in the second quarter and as the team surged as the crowd got into the game and fed the rally. The Eagles actually led late in the half, but Conley managed to tie the score right before halftime and it was a 22-all game at the break.
“These fans here are really great. It makes for a tough environment for a visiting team,” Myers said. “Their fans really got into it late and we could feel them breathing down your back.”
The Jet defense stood out in the third quarter. They held the Eagles scoreless until about the 2 minute mark. The Jets tried to do a little trapping in the half court and the Eagles threw up a shell offense. However the Jets did not muster many points themselves and lead 32-25 at the end of the quarter.
The Eagles found some offense in the last quarter and quickly built a lead. Meanwhile, the Jets could not buy a basket. The Eagles went on a 14-0 run. The home crowd got loud just as they had in the first half when the Eagles made a move. After catching the Jets, the Eagles quickly built a 7-point lead 39-32 at the two minute mark.
Now the Jets had to dig their way out of the hole that they had put themselves into and quickly. With 1:17 left they had made up ground – it was now 40-37. Jackson Crist had his fifth foul and was out of the game. The Jets last gasp was a Connor Crist 3-pointer that landed with seconds left. But with no timeouts left, the clock ran out and the Eagles were able to escape with the win.
Conley got extra attention through most of game. He was frequently double teamed when he got the ball and seemed to have someone on his hip pocket all of the time on offense. He played hard and got knocked around a little. He hurt his nose in the first half and also landed hard in the second half which caused a few anxious minutes while trainers attended to him.
Still, Conley was able to overcome all of these obstacles to lead all scorers with 21 points. Many of these from the foul line as the Eagles contested every shot and couldn’t keep their hands off of him. But this will probably be a common occurrence this season for the Ashland University signee.
“Our kids played with intensity,” Myers remarked after the game. “I have no reservations about this team after this game. All I ask for is their best effort – that is all. In the third quarter Troy Christian was able to take our offense away. We have a whole new group of kids after graduating everyone last year. What do we do when the other team goes on a run and they won’t allow you to manufacture points the way that you to do. That was the difference in the game.
“We were down by 8 and came back and made it a game. We find a way to hit another shot and its a different game. We have to start with the effort by this team and go from there. Ethan Conley had a good game and we knew he would get extra attention. Now we have to figure out what to do when he is double teamed and spray the ball out and find the open man. Learning by fire is going to be the biggest thing for this team. How we react to what the other team is doing.”