Following a loss in the final game of the regular season, Troy Athens boys basketball coach Dave Scott could sense his squad had the potential for a special run in the postseason.
The Red Hawks, 4-16 overall at the time, had just fallen to Rochester Adams, which went undefeated in the regular season, but stayed competitive in the game until the end.
“Before we went into our locker room, I looked at our coaching staff and told them, ‘If we play like that the following week (district week), that we would come home with the district title,’” Scott remembered. “Our post-game talk with the players was also very upbeat. We stressed it had been a long year, but if they could give us one more week of focus and intensity, we would have the opportunity to win our district and do something only three other teams in Athens history had accomplished.”
The Red Hawks made good on their potential a week later, winning their first district championship since 2000. They eventually fell to Bloomfield Hills Lahser 70-61 in a Class A regional semifinal.
Along the way, they had some memorable moments, including coming back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Pontiac High in their district semifinal, and on the other side of it, holding off Waterford Mott for the district championship after seeing their 20-point lead cut to two.
“I am very proud of our team and how they came together at the end of the season. It would have been very easy after the season we had to just throw in the towel and go quietly in the district,” Scott said. “The boys kept fighting and believing that they could pull it out.”
Scott attributed the turnaround to a few different factors. He said the squad started playing better team defense and sharing the ball more.
“Our seniors really stepped up,” the coach said. “Jeff Koch was pretty steady for us all season, but he didn’t want his season to end, and Ethan Badertscher finally got healthy for us and was a difference-maker in the postseason, playing great defense and hitting some key shots.”