By Rob Kiser
TROY — The Piqua boys basketball team continues to show great possibilities.
And Piqua coach Heath Butler can’t wait until it all comes together.
Friday night in GWOC American action against Troy, the Indians showed the ability to put points on the scoreboard — but, in the end, it wasn’t quite enough as the Trojans held on for an 82-74 victory.
Troy improved to 2-3 overall and in GWOC American action, while Piqua dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-4 in GWOC American action.
“I know some guys are going to get down on those kids in the locker room,” Butler said. “But, I am not going to. Because I know we are this close (holding his fingers close together).”
Friday night featured plenty of offensive fireworks from the start.
Troy scored 46 points in the opening half, led by senior guard Ryan McClurg’s 20. McClurg would finish with career-high 33, including seven 3-pointers.
“He (Ryan McClurg) is a good shooter,” Butler said. “But, it happens every year in the Piqua-Troy. There is somebody who steps up and has a career game and that was him tonight.”
Piqua kept pace much of the first, trailing just 39-37 with 1:40 to go in the half.
A big part of that was two more pieces of the offense in junior guard Devon Brown and senior guard Gage Smith.
Brown was six-for-seven from the floor in the first half and added a three in the fourth quarter for 16 points.
“First, Devon had to learn to be a student-athlete and he is doing that,” Butler said. “He definitely gives us some explosion off the bench. I think that kind of sparked Ben (Schmiesing) and then Nate (Monnin) got going too.”
Smith was 5-for-6 on 3-pointers before missing a desperation shot late.
“That is great shooting,” Butler said. “Those are the kind of things you have to have in the Piqua-Troy game.”
But, a 7-2 run to close the first half — followed by a 9-2 run to start the second half put Piqua in a 55-41 hole midway through the third quarter.
“It was just a matter of us not being able to pass and catch the ball,” Butler said. “We just had way too many turnovers. Even with everything that happen (with McClurg), if we just take care of the basketball, I think we win this game.”
To the Indians credit, they battled back.
When Smith buried a three with 1:42 to go, Piqua trailed just 70-66.
But, the Indians had to foul and Troy converted 15 of 19 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“These kids are going to battle,” Butler said about his team. “There is no question about that.”
Schmiesing led Piqua with 20 points, while Nate Monnin scored nine of his 15 in the fourth quarter.
Zach Reichelderfer and Brendan Kinnel helped McClurg out with 14 points each.
Piqua was 28 of 51 from the floor for 55 percent and seven of 13 from the line for 54 percent.
Troy was 28 of 52 from the floor for 54 percent and 17 of 24 from the line for 71 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 24-21, but had 17 turnovers to Troy’s 10.
The Indians will return to action Thursday, playing Tecumseh at 8:30 p.m. in the final game on the opening night of the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic at Garbry Gymnasium.
“That is the great thing about our situation,” Butler said. “We get a little break from GWOC North play and get a chance to go out and win a championship.”
And put all the “pieces” together.
Hunter Hawk 0-0-0, Hayden Schrubb 2-0-5, Gage Smith 5-0-15, Ben Schmiesing 7-4-20, Nate Monnin 6-3-15, Devon Brown 7-0-16, Caleb Patton 0-0-0, JJ Rohrbach 0-0-0, Xion Harrison 1-0-3, Cory Cottrell 0-0-0. Totals: 28-7-74.
Zach Reicheldefer 5-3-14, Brendan Kinnel 4-5-14, Hayden Kotwica 3-0-6, Ryan McClurg 11-6-33, Keenan Kinnel 3-0-7, Eli Palmer 1-0-3, Zion Taylor 0-1-1, Zach Boyer 1-2-4, Josh Browder 0-0-0. Totals: 28-17-82.
3-point field goals — Piqua: Schrubb, Smith (5), Schmiesing (2), Brown (2), Harrison. Troy: Reichelderfer, Brendan Kinnel, McClurg (5), Keenan Kinnel, Palmer.
Score By Quarters
Piqua 18 39 51 74
Troy 22 46 63 82
Records: Piqua 1-5 (1-4), Troy 2-3 (2-3).
Reserve score: Troy 49, Piqua 48, OT.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.