By Rob Kiser
For the second time in as many nights in the Red bracket of the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic, the Piqua boys had a double-digit lead in the second half.
And for the second time, the game ended with a frustrating loss as the Indians came up short in the consolation game — losing 76-67 to Belmont.
And for Piqua, 5-4, this one may have been a little more frustrating because they had a 10-point lead at 55-45 in the fourth quarter before surrendering the lead.
It was another night where the Indians struggled against pressure coming down the stretch.
“Other teams are going to see that and keep pressuring us,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “You have to be able to do three things in basketball. Dribble the ball, pass it and catch it — and right now we can’t do that.”
Piqua took a 51-43 lead to the fourth quarter before being outscored 33-16.
“I don’t think it was so much what Belmont did as what we did,” Butler said. “Turning the ball over and giving them the opportunity to make easy baskets.”
Piqua lead 55-45 with 6:00 minutes to go and the Indians were still up 59-50 at the five-minute mark after a 3-point play by Colton Bachman.
But, the Bison outscored them 26-8 the rest of the way.
Kajaun Ford led the charge, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter alone as Piqua could never get the momentum back.
It wiped out three quarters of pretty good basketball for the Indians.
Piqua had taken a 39-31 halftime lead — with Bachman scoring 19 points in the opening half and Bradley Hohlbein scoring 12. The Indians were able to maintain that margin until the final six minutes.
“I thought we played with a lot more energy tonight,” Butler said. “The first half, I thought we did a pretty good job on the boards. We just couldn’t keep them off the boards in the fourth quarter.”
Bachman led Piqua with 30 points and Hohlbein added 16 — while Nate Monnin grabbed eight rebounds.
Robert Alexander had 21 points and 11 rebounds to pace Belmont, while Justin Madison added 18 points and seven boards. Ford scored 12 points, Jadon Furlow added 11 and Malique Hancock added 10.
Piqua was 21 of 53 from the floor and 18 of 28 from the line, while Belmont was 31 of 63 from the floor and 13 of 19 from the line.
Belmont won the battle of the boards 29-21 and had 10 turnovers to Piqua’s 14.
Piqua will host Fairmont Tuesday.
“All of our goals are still in front of us,” Butler said. “We still have the opportunity to win the (GWOC) North and make a run in the tournament.”
Once they master playing with the lead.
Bradley Hohlbein 3-9-16, Derrick Gullett 1-3-6, Nate Monnin 3-1-7, CJ Davis 0-0-0, Colton Bachman 10-5-30, Ben Schmiesing 3-0-6, Nash Black 1-0-2, Hunter Hawk 0-0-0, Caleb Patton 0-0-0, Gage Smith 0-0-0. Totals: 21-18-67.
Kajaun Ford 3-6-12, Jadon Furlow 4-3-11, Craig Rice Jr. 0-0-0, Robert Alexander 10-0-21, Justin Madison 9-0-18, Dennis Jones 2-0-4, Malique Hancock 3-4-10, Dylan Miller 0-0-0, Tyrone Carpenter 0-0-0. Totals: 31-13-76.
3-point field goals — Piqua: Hohlbein, Gullett, Bachman (5). Belmont: Alexander.
Score By Quarters
Piqua 11 39 51 67
Belmont 13 31 43 76
Records: Piqua 5-4.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.