By Rob Kiser
It may have not looked pretty.
But, Piqua boys basketball coach Heath Butler couldn’t have asked for anything better to send his seniors out on Tuesday in their final home game.
In a defensive struggle for most of the night, the Indians came away with a 49-39 victory over Vandalia-Butler in GWOC North action at Garbry Gymnasium.
“We really played hard on the defensive end,” Butler said. “We had some seniors really step up tonight and help us win the game.”
Never was that more evident than at a couple critical moments.
After Butler had missed its first eight shots and trailed the Indians 7-2 after one quarter and 15-12 at halftime, a three by Torin Fletcher and a basket by Brian Jenkins had tied the game at 19 midway through the third quarter.
That’s when Piqua senior CJ Davis hit back-to-back threes to put Piqua in front 25-19.
“Two huge shots,” Butler said. “CJ (Davis) finally got a couple shots to go down. I know how hard that kid works every day in practice and how good that felt for him — that’s why I felt so good for him.”
After the teams exchanged baskets, Derrick Gullett made a diving steal. In a scramble, he came up with the ball on the floor near mid-court and somehow tossed it to Bradley Hohlbein for a layup to put Piqua up 29-21.
“That’s Gulley (Derrick Gullett),” Butler said. “That is what he does. He makes some kind of hustle play like that every game. And Brad — he had a big game and has the presence of mind to go to the basket and get the layup.”
Vandalia got within four on a three by Noah Ballard to make it 37-34 with 3:00 to go.
But, Hohlbein scored four straight points and Davis made five of six free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
“Brad (Hohlbein) had a huge game and CJ (Davis) was clutch from the line,” Butler said.
Hohlbein led Piqua, 12-9 overall and 5-4 in the GWOC North, with 15 points.
Davis had 11 points, Monnin had 10 points and 13 rebounds and Bachman had 12 points and seven rebounds.
Zach Ledbetter led Vandalia with 12 points.
“You have to give Vandalia a lot of credit,” Butler said. “They haven’t won any games in the league, but they have been in a lot of them. They could have come in here and laid down and they didn’t. They gave a great effort.”
Piqua was 16 of 45 from the floor for 36 percent and 14 of 23 from the line for 61 percent.
Vandalia was 13 of 53 from the floor for 25 percent and nine of 12 from the line for 75 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 32-31, but had 14 turnovers to Vandalia’s 10.
Piqua will close the regular season at Troy Friday, looking for its fourth straight win.
“That’s going to be another tough game,” Butler said. “This was important. I know it wasn’t senior night, but it was important to send the seniors out right (in their final home game).”
And Butler couldn’t have scripted it any better.
Noah Ballard 2-0-6, Torin Fletcher 3-2-9, James Clark 1-0-2, Zach Ledbetter 3-5-12, Brian Jenkins 1-0-2, Trey Sanders 0-0-0, Cameron Glover 2-0-4, Nathan Stogdill 0-0-0, Aaron Fields 0-0-0, Bryant Johnson 1-2-4. Totals: 13-9-39.
Bradley Hohlbein 7-0-15, Derrick Gullett 0-0-0, Nate Monnin 5-0-10, CJ Davis 2-5-11, Colton Bachman 2-8-12, Brady Hill 0-0-0, Ben Schmiesing 0-1-1, Nash Black 0-0-0, Caleb Patton 0-0-0, Tyren Cox 0-0-0. Totals: 16-14-49.
3-point field goals — Vandalia: Ballard (2), Fletcher, Ledbetter, Piqua: Hohlbein, Davis (2).
Score By Quarters
Vandalia 2 12 21 39
Piqua 7 15 29 49
Records: Vandalia 4-15 (0-9), Piqua 12-9 (5-4).
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.