By Rob Kiser
It seemed only fitting on a night that honored the late Samuel F. Pearson and all veterans, it was only fitting that Piqua would gut out a 35-34 win over Troy on Senior Night. Pearson had his football jersey retired at halftime and almost $25,000 was raised for the Samuel F. Pearson Memorial Scholarship Fund.
“This was a special night. It was another blue collar effort,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “There was nothing spectacular. No one scored 30 points — we barely got in the 30s as a team. That is what we have been doing in this streak of ours. What a gutty effort.”
And in the end, on “Go Green” night, it was defensive play by Piqua that would determine the final outcome.
After Piqua had missed the front end of a one-and-one leading 35-34, Troy brought the ball down past midcourt and called time out with 2.2 seconds to go.
Piqua would then call time out as well, setting up the dramatic finish.
Troy tried to lob the ball inside and Monnin tipped the pass into Schmiesing’s hands as time ran out.
“Actually, we thought they might try and go to 14 (Ryan McClurg),” Schmiesing said. “Nate (Monnin) made a great play to tip it and I just grabbed it.”
Monnin had one thought.
“I just wanted to get my hands on it and get the clock started running,” he said. “I was just trying to tip it in the air and Ben grabbed it. All the other guys played great defense on that play t00.”
Monnin had hit a 3-point shot with just 2:00 remaining to give Piqua a 35-34 lead and neither team would score again.
“Hayden (Schrubb) did a great job of driving and drawing the defenders,” Monnin said. “He kicked it back out to me and I was open.”
It didn’t suprise Butler.
“Hayden (Schrubb) made some big plays down the stretch for us,” Butler said. “And what a shot by Nate in that situation.”
From there, Piqua made all the plays that had to defensively to finish off the win.
“It was a tough game, that’s for sure,” Schmiesing said. “It feels great to beat Troy. And that’s three in a row heading into the tournament.”
The first three quarters — much like the fourth — were a struggle offensively for both teams.
Piqua led 7-6 after one quarter, but Troy led 18-13 at halftime and 27-25 after three quarters.
But, in the end, the Indians wouldn’t be denied.
“I thought the difference in the second half was we did a much better job on the boards,” Butler said. “We were able to get after some balls and get rebounds. I thought we did a nice job checking out on McClurg (who had scored 33 points in the Troy’s 82-74 win in the first meeting).”
While only three Piqua players scored, it was a solid team effort.
Schmiesing had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Monnin had 11 points and eight rebounds and Schrubb had eight points and five rebounds as the Indians improved to 8-14 overall and 5-10 in GWOC American play.
“It was just another blue collar effrot by Ben Schmiesing,” Butler said. “Nate Monnin really battled in there and Hayden Schrubb made big plays.”
Troy, 7-15 overall and 4-11 in GWOC American play, got nine points from McClurg and eight from Hayden Kotwica, while Zach Reichelderfer grabbed eight rebounds.
Piqua was 13 of 33 from the floor for 39 percent and seven of 13 from the line for 54 percent, while Troy was 14 of 55 from the floor 25 percent and five of eight from the line for 63 percent.
The Indians won the battle of the boards 28-24 but had 17 turnovers to Troy’s 11.
In the end, as Piqua prepares to open Vandalia D-I sectional tourney play at 8 p.m. Friday against Centerville, all that mattered was the Indians had one more point than Troy.
“This is like a fairy tale,” Monnin said with a big smile.
And a fitting tribute to one of Piqua’s heroes.
Zach Reichelderfer 2-2-6, Hayden Kotwicka 4-0-8, Ryan McClurg 4-0-9, Zion Taylor 0-1-1, Kennan Kinnel 2-2-6, Eli Palmer 0-0-0, Zach Boyer 2-0-4, Devon Larger 0-0-0, Brendan Kinnel 0-0-0. Totals: 14-5-34.
Cam Ashton 0-0-0, Caleb Patton 0-0-0, Gage Smith 0-0-0, Nate Monnin 4-1-11, JJ Rohrbach 0-0-0, Hayden Schrubb 4-0-8, Ben Schmiesing 5-6-16, Cory Cottrell 0-0-0, Nick Rigola 0-0-0, Xion Harrison 0-0-0. Totals: 13-7-35.
3-point field goals — Troy: McClurg. Piqua: Monnin (2).
Score By Quarters
Troy 6 18 27 34
Piqua 7 13 25 35
Records: Piqua 8-14 (5-10), Troy 7-15 (4-11).
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.