By Mike Ullery
In an evening full of ups and downs, the Piqua boys basjetball team fell just short with a 39-37 loss to Vandalia-Butler Friday night at Garbry Gymnasium.
“It was a typical early first GWOC North game,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “Both sides were not really sharp offensively but the thing was both sides defensively battled really hard. It came down to some simple things.
“Passing, catching the basketball. If you take a look at the stats, I think that Vandalia had less turnover than us. I think we battled hard on the boards. In any basketball game you have to look at two statistics, that’s rebounds and turnovers. I think the one thing that we need to work on is we have to start winning on turnovers.”
Xion Harrison hit a 3-point shot to get Piqua within 39-37 with 44 seconds left in the game.
Vandalia missed a free throw with 6.5 seconds left and Piqua had one last chance.
But, a 3-point shot was off the mark at the buzzer and Butler escaped with the win.
Vandalia improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in GWOC American play, while Piqua fell to 0-2 and 0-1.
Both teams had got off to a slow start, scoring just 15 points between them in the first quarter. The Aviators came out with a tenacious defense that kept the Indians off-balance early although Butler was not able to capitalize to any extent.
In the second quarter, both the Indians and the Aviators began to find some offense with Piqua pulling ahead at the half by a score of 20 – 18.
The third quarter momentum swung back to Butler as turnovers became an issue for Piqua with the third quarter score ending at 31-27, Butler.
As the fourth quarter opened, Butler found their stride and opened up an eight-point lead with less than three minutes left to play, before Piqua’s rally came up just short.
Vandalia coach D.J. Wyrick was happy to walk away with a win.
“There’s nothing better than a road win in-conference,” said Wyrick. “We kinda just stole one tonight and that’s outstanding.”
Nate Monnin had a double-double for Piqua with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Gage Smith scored nine and Ben Schmiesing added eight.
Miles Joiner led Vandalia-Butler with 11 points, five steals and four assists.
Tyler Burley and Quentin Glover both scored 10 points.
The Piqua Indians take on the Tippecanoe Red Devils in conference action on Tuesday.