by BRYAN EVERSON
An incredible run for Troy through the playoffs came to an end Monday night at Detroit Mercy.
The hot shooting of the Colts finally cooled off at Calihan Hall, where West Bloomfield won 80-43 in a Class A quarterfinal.
In 1989, when Troy head coach Gary Fralick was still an assistant, the school equaled its run, and despite losing to a Detroit Southwestern team loaded with stars like Jalen Rose, the Colts nearly slayed the favorites.
While West Bloomfield may have been considered a slight favorite in Monday’s tilt — the Lakers defeated the OAA White co-champions by just three points, 64-61 in a meeting during the regular season, so the rematch figured to a tightly contested one.
The answers for stopping the Lakers and star senior guard Kevin McAdoo, though, proved hard to come by the second time around.
“We didn’t play well the whole game, but we busted our butts,” Fralick said. “They played a very good game, and we gave up too many open looks to McAdoo. He’s a heckuva player and a hard kid to stop because he can shoot and drive.”
“Our guys just didn’t shoot the ball well tonight at all. We battled, but we didn’t execute tonight.”
The zone defense utilized by Troy (21-5) never gave West Bloomfield the fits it was intended to, and while McAdoo, who came in averaging over 30 points throughout the playoffs, was hard to contain, he got plenty of help from his teammates. Junior guard Tre Harvey had two early 3-pointers and his backcourt mate Tyler Davis had a triple of his own and a put-back basket that helped build a five-point lead after the opening quarter.
Robert Banas provided some inside offense for Troy and Leon Ayers was able to fill it up on occasion as well, but McAdoo prevented the Colts from evening the scoreline. He drained a 3 from several feet beyond the college line midway through the second, and another from the top of the arc at the buzzer to send West Bloomfield (17-8) into the locker room up 10 at the half.
The Lakers were able to completely pull away after the break as the shots and second-chance opportunities almost entirely fell their away, and Troy’s best looks at the rim refused to fall through. It took a right-handed layup off the glass by senior Stefan Palincas with 37 seconds left in the third quarter for the Colts to get their first points of the second half and put an end to a 27-4 run that spanned back to the previous quarter.
“They hit some open shots, and the biggest killer was when they missed, they would get the offensive rebounds,” Fralick said. “The key was that we were going to play the zone and extend it a little bit, and when they shot we were going to box out and get the rebound. And we were watching the flight of the ball instead of finding a body and boxing them out.”
McAdoo finished with a game high 23 points, 17 of which came in the first half. He was responsible for a trio of his team’s 11 3-pointers.
“I felt if we played man-to-man or zone, he was going to be hard to contain, and he was,” Fralick said. “I was thinking we’d won 11 straight games playing a zone, so let’s go to a 12th and see what would happen, but we kept losing [McAdoo] for some reason. I’m going to blame that on myself.”
Ayers led the Colts with nine points, and was followed up by Banas with eight. Sophomore guard Clay Sebastian, who had six points, was good for two of Troy’s six total 3- pointers, four of which came in the final quarter.
Troy will graduate Palincas, Will Johansson and Isaiah Smith, but the future is bright considering four of its starters, which also includes leading scorer Jason Dietz, return next season.
“It’s been a great run,” Fralick said. “The first time in the quarterfinals since 1989. I just wish we could have a little better showing once we got here, but we plan on being very competitive next year, and hopefully good things will happen for us.”