Boys basketball: Hard work paying off for Trojans

Southeastern High School senior Bryce Grim is guarded by Catholic Central sophomore Camron Roe during their game on Dec. 17, 2019. The Trojans started the season 1-7, but have won three of their last four games, including an upset of OHC North Division leader Fairbanks. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

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Southeastern High School senior Bryce Grim is guarded by Catholic Central sophomore Camron Roe during their game on Dec. 17, 2019. The Trojans started the season 1-7, but have won three of their last four games, including an upset of OHC North Division leader Fairbanks. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

As the losses continued to pile up, the Southeastern High School boys basketball team came to practice every day as if they were undefeated, said Trojans coach John O’Laughlin.

The hard work is starting to pay off. After starting the season 1-7, Southeastern has won three of its last four games, including a 42-41 victory over Ohio Heritage Conference North Division leader Fairbanks.

“The kids have worked extremely hard every day,” O’Laughlin said. “We just started taking care of the basketball, which has been the main thing. We’ve cut down on the turnovers, which I tell them gives us more shot attempts. The kids just keep working extremely hard every day.”

Southeastern lost six straight games after a season-opening win at Yellow Springs, but were competitive in most games, O’Laughlin said.

“We’ve had a lot of games where with a couple minutes to go, it’s a four-point game,” he said. “We’re fouling to try to win the game and teams are making their foul shots. We’ve been competing, we’re just finally starting to get some luck. The ball is bouncing our way a little bit. A lot of that is attributed to their effort in practice every day.”

The Trojans gained confidence with back-to-back victories over West Jefferson and Triad earlier this month. Offensively, the key has been patience, O’Laughlin said.

“We keep working the ball until we get a good shot,” he said. “Sometimes, a 3-pointer is not a good shot. We can take a 3 at any time.”

Southeastern is led by senior Bryce Grim is averaging nearly a double-double at 12.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

“Bryce just goes 100 miles an hour,” O’Laughlin said. “He’s got to be leading the league in floor burns. He’s on the floor constantly. If there’s a loose ball, he’s diving for it. He only knows one way to go and that’s 100 percent.”

Sophomores Cooper Bair (10.3 ppg) and Jacob Banion (7.2 ppg) have provided a scoring boost for the Trojans, while seniors Tucker Eriksen and Kole Vollrath have provided great leadership and been a strong presence defensively.

The losing streak was a character check for the Trojans, O’Laughlin said. They’ve responded in a big way in the tough OHC, he said.

“Every Tuesday and Friday is a dog fight,” O’Laughlin said. “You can’t take anybody for granted in this league.”

Cedarville (10-3, 8-2) and Greeneview (12-4, 8-2) are tied atop the OHC South, while Greenon is one game back at (8-5, 7-3). In the OHC North, Fairbanks (8-7, 7-3) and West Liberty-Salem (9-7, 7-3) are tied for the division lead, while West Jefferson (7-6, 6-4) is one game back.

Southeastern (4-8, 3-7) could spoil someone’s title hopes down the stretch.

“We’re taking one game at a time right now,” O’Laughlin said. “I’m just really proud of the kids. Being 1-7, it would’ve been easy to just pack it in for the season, but they haven’t done that. I’m extremely proud of how hard they work.”

Here’s a look at other conference races as we head into the final four weeks of the regular season:

Central Buckeye Conference

In the Kenton Trail Division, Jonathan Alder (12-2, 6-0), is two games up on Kenton Ridge (10-4, 4-2) and London (9-6, 4-2) with four games to play. Shawnee is 8-5 and 3-3 in the division.

Unbeaten North Union (13-0, 7-0) is 1.5-games up on Indian Lake (9-7, 5-1) in the Mad River Division. The Wildcats host the Lakers on Jan. 31.

Greater Western Ohio Conference

Centerville (8-8, 6-1) is two games up on second place Wayne (7-7, 4-3) with six games to play in the GWOC American Division.

Defending D-II state champion Trotwood-Madison (12-2, 6-0) is leading the National Division. They’re 1.5 games up on second place Miamisburg (12-4, 5-2).

Springfield is 4-9 and 3-4 in the American Division.

Metro Buckeye Conference

Emmanuel Christian (12-2, 7-1) earned a key conference victory over Dayton Christian on Friday night. The Lions are currently a half-game back of first place Troy Christian (13-3, 8-1). They’ve got six conference games remaining, including a rematch with Eagles on Feb. 14 in Springfield.

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