By Rob Kiser
It was a win the Piqua girls basketball team badly needed.
And no one was happier for the Lady Indians then coach Brian Gillespie after they won a matchup of 1-7 teams with a 56-48 win over Graham — snapping a seven-game losing streak.
“I am so happy for the girls,” Gillespie said. “They work so hard in practice. It is never a question of effort with these girls. Sometimes, it is just a matter of execution and they did that tonight.”
Graham was within 34-33 after two free throws by Kayla Tullis with 3:40 to go in the third quarter.
That’s when Lily Stewart — who had 19 in the first three quarters — scored seven straight points and Lauryn Gray followed with a basket off a lob inside to give Piqua a 43-33 lead going to the final quarter.
“Lily (Stewart) made some big shots,” Gillespie said. “She has had some big games for us. And that is what good players do. They make big shots in big situations.”
Tullis tried to keep Graham in the game, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter.
But, the Lady Falcons could get no closer than six.
And Lauren Williams and Gray combined for four straight free throws down the stretch to take the lead to 10 and seal the win.
“That was the difference tonight,” Gillespie said. “There have been some times where we haven’t been able to close — tonight we were able to close.”
Piqua had gotten off to a slow start.
And with six points early from Bethan Horner on lobs — and four each from Kari Sullenberger and Tullis, Graham had taken a 14-6 lead early in the second quarter.
That’s when Emily Powell entered for Piqua and immediately hit a three to make it 14-9 and spark the Lady Indians.
Kelsey Bachman had a two and a three in the quarter and with Graham leading 25-21, Stewart buried a three at the buzzer to get Piqua within 25-24 and give the Lady Indians momentum heading into the second half.
“Those shots are huge,” Gillespie said. “That was a big jumper by Emily Powell. And Kelsey and Lily hit some big shots. That is what we needed.”
While Graham was able to score most of its points in the paint in the opening half, Piqua was able to take that lob away in the second half.
“We really didn’t do anything different,” Gillespie said. “I think it was just a matter of the kids having a better understanding of what they were trying to do. It was a matter of being aware of 32 (Kayla Tullis) and 23 (Kari Sullenberger).”
Stewart led Piqua with 19 points.
Gray had nine points and eight rebounds, Williams scored nine points and Tylah Yeomans added seven.
Tullis paced Graham with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Sullenberger scored nine Brooke Johannes came off the bench to score eight.
Piqua was 17 of 35 from the floor for 49 percent and 18 of 34 from the line for 53 percent.
Graham was 18 of 48 from the floor for 38 percent and 10 of 12 from the line for 83 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 25-23 and had 13 turnovers to Graham’s 19.
“This one feels really good,” Gillespie said.
And the Lady Indians will look to continue that good feeling Wednesday at Trotwood-Madison in GWOC American action.
Sara Masters 0-0-0, Bethany Horner 3-0-6, Kari Sullenberger 3-3-9, Sarah Flora 0-0-0, Kayla Tullis 8-5-23, Kaitlyn Nash 1-0-2, Brooke Johannes 3-2-8, Olivia Burr 0-0-0. Totals: 18-10-48.
Lauren Williams 2-5-9, Tylah Yeomans 2-3-7, Kelsey Magoteaux 1-0-2, Lauryn Gray 3-3-9, Lily Stewart 5-7-19, Emily Powell 2-0-5, Kelsey Bachman 2-0-5, Taylor Grunkemeyer 0-0-0, Claire Went 0-0-0. Totals: 17-18-56.
3-point field goals — Graham: Tullis (2). Piqua: Stewart (2), Powell, Bachman.
Score By Quarters
Graham 12 25 33 48
Piqua 6 24 43 56
Records: Piqua 2-7, Graham 1-8.