Call Sports Editor
After letting a number of close games get away last year, the Piqua boys basketball had talked throughout the off-season about finishing games.
And Friday night, the Indians got their first chance to prove things would be different this year.
In a game with more back-and-forth and up-and-downs than a roller coaster, the game was tied at 37 with 3:10 remaining.
Tate Honeycutt and Xavier Harrison delivered the clutch free throws and Colton Bachman “blocked” any Butler comeback hopes in the final 30 second as Piqua won 44-39 in GWOC North action.
“This was big,” Honeycutt said. “We knew we had lost some games last year at the end. We just knew we could do it.”
After Vandalia’s Nnaemaka Anene missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2:11 remaining, Honeycutt was sent to the line with 1:33 remaining and the game tied at 39.
“I just knew I had to make them,” Honeycutt, who had missed his previous two free throws said.
He calmly sank both of them to give Piqua the lead for good.
“Tate was in that position last year a few times,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “He knew he could do it and I knew he could do it.”
After Dan Monnin caused a Butler double dribble at the other end, Vandalia had to foul Piqua four times to send them to the line.
With 37.3 seconds remaining, Harrison calmly hit two free throws to make it 43-39.
“Coach prepares us for this,” Harrison said. “We do cutthroats in practice. If you don’t make four straight in 30 seconds, you have to run. We do it all the time, so I was confident.”
Butler rushed down the court and after two misses, Harrison came away with the ball.
Honeycutt missed a challenged layup at the other end, but the ball went out of bounds off Butler.
“We struggled with offensive rebounds,” Butler said. “But, give Butler credit. Nnaemaka Anene is a strong, physical kid. But, we came up with the ball when we needed it.”
After Piqua missed the front end of one-and-one with 17 seconds left, Bachman sealed it at the defensive end.
On a 3-point attempt, the Piqua sophomore blocked the shot, came down with the ball and was fouled with 6.5 second left, making one of two free throws to finish off the win.
“I was a little nervous,” Bachman said. “If I had fouled him, it could have been a tie game. But, sometimes you just have to play defense. I am just proud of my teammates and the way they all stepped up.”
Butler was happy to get the win.
“We didn’t necessarily play our best, but we handled the adversity and got the win,” he said.
Butler had led 17-15 in a defensive dominated first half.
Piqua was leading 27-24 late in the third quarter after threes by Bachman, Harrison and Storm Cook.
The Aviators Cameron Glover answered with six straight points to give Vandalia a 30-27 edge going to the fourth quarter.
Again Piqua, seemed to take control, with consecutive baskets by Monnin making it 37-34.
Adam Ney, who had hit a three on the previous possession, hit another one to tie it at 37.
Cook hit a jumper in the lane for Piqua, before Jalen Paige answered with two free throws to tie it at 39 with 2:31 remaining.
But, the Aviators would not score again.
“When the (Adam) Ney kid got hot and hit those shots, that could have taken all the wind out of the gym,” Butler said. “But, the kids never backed down. They never let up.”
Bachman led Piqua with 13 points, while Ney scored 13 for the Aviators.
Piqua was 15 of 29 from the floor, including six of eight in the fourth quarter, for 52 percent and made 11 of 17 free throws for 65 percent.
Vandalia was 13 of 40 from the floor for 33 percent and eight of 11 from the line for 73 percent.
The Aviators outrebounded Piqua 24-19, but had 17 turnovers to the Indians 12.
Vandalia-Butler won the JV game 44-33.
Austin Hall led Piqua with 11 points.
Brandon Hohlbein scored nine and Bradley Hohlbein added eight.
Piqua will play at Stebbins Tuesday.
Jalen Paige 2-2-7, Michael Drees 0-2-2, Aaron Messenger 0-0-0, Adam Ney 5-0-13, Nnaemaka Anene 0-3-3, Marcus Newell 0-1-1, Cameron Glover 3-0-7, Tyson Williams 3-0-6. Totals: 13-8-39.
Tate Honeycutt 1-2-4, Xavier Harrison 2-2-7, Erik Vondenhuevel 2-0-4, Colton Bachman 4-4-13, Dan Monnin 3-1-7, Storm Cook 3-0-7, Connor Forror 0-2-2, Derrick Gullett 0-0-0. Totals: 15-11-44.
3-point field goals — Vandalia: Paige, Ney (4), Glover. Piqua: Harrison, Bachman, Cook.
Score By Quarters
Vandalia 9 17 30 39
Piqua 8 15 27 44
Records: Vandalia-Butler 1-4 (0-1), Piqua 2-1 (1-0).
Reserve score: Vandalia-Butler 44, Piqua 33.