Troy basketball’s Person breaks records in Hawaii at 3-game Rainbow Classic

Scott Watkins

Staff Writer

The Troy men’s basketball team opened the 2017 season with a trip to Hawaii for the three-game Rainbow Classic. Troy went 1-2 over the weekend with a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and losses against North Dakota and Hawaii.

The Trojans opened the classic on Friday with an 83-80 loss to North Dakota. Senior guard Wesley Person and junior forward Jordon Varnado each played 35 minutes and scored a combined 49 points.

The game was back and forth early in the first half until Varnado scored seven straight points and spearheaded a 16-3 run, which put Troy up by 12 with under four minutes to go in the first half.

The Fighting Hawks answered, scoring the final nine points of the half to cut Troy’s lead to three.

The Hawks took the lead early in the second half and were able to push it out to 10 behind back-to-back three-pointers.

Person reversed the momentum with an eight-point spurt and helped Troy tie the game with 8:49 left to play. The two teams then traded leads until the Hawks jumped in front and stayed ahead for the remaining two minutes of play.

After a day off, Troy bounced back with an 81-57 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday. Five players scored in double digits, with Person leading the way with 17 points.

Senior guard Kevin Baker opened the game with a three-pointer, giving the Trojans a lead held on to for the entire game.

Scoring was scarce early, with both teams going a full five minutes without a basket early in the first half. The drought was ended by a 20-5 Troy run that featured seven points from Varnado.

Troy held an 18-point lead with 6:30 left in the first half before it was cut down to 10 by the Lions at halftime.

Up 31-21 at the start of the second half, the Trojans went on a quick 10-2 run capped by a three-pointer by junior guard Shawn Hopkins.

Midway through the half, Troy put the game away with a 12-0 run, which put the Trojans up 64-39. During that run, Person hit his record-setting 270th three-pointer of his career. The previous school record was set nearly 20 years ago by Rhodney Donaldson.

Troy then reached its largest lead of the game when junior forward Alex Hicks’ dunk put the Trojans up 71-43 with 5:52 left in the game.

Hopkins and freshman guard Javan Johnson helped maintain Troy’s lead over the final minutes of the contest with 10 combined points in the last five minutes.

Troy finished the weekend with a 72-67 overtime loss against host team Hawaii. Troy got off to a slow start, making just 32.3 percent of its first-half shots. Varnado was responsible for half of the Trojans’ 28 first-half points.

Despite the poor shooting performance, the game was tied at 20 with under eight minutes left in the first half. The Warriors then went on an 8-0 run and maintained the lead until halftime.

Coming out of halftime, Hawaii built a 15-point lead before a Person three-pointer ended the Warrior spurt. In the game, Person set another Troy record after scoring 16 points in the contest and becoming Troy’s Division I leader in scoring.

Troy was able to tie the game when Varnado hit a three-pointer with five seconds left to force overtime.

The Warriors opened the extra period with a 5-1 run and outscored the Trojans 10-5 in overtime to get the win.

Troy will return to action Thursday with its home opener against Division II opponent Brewton-Parker. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. at Trojan Arena.

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