By Rob Kiser
It was a matchup of two teams looking to turn their seasons around — early as it may be — in the nightcap of the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic Thursday.
And in a wild game, which saw 26 3-point field goals made, Piqua would be the team that found that win, holding off a deadly shooting Tecumseh team from long range 75-68 in one Green Bracket semifinal.
Piqua, 2-5, will play Belmont in the championship game at 8:30 p.m. tonight at Garbry Gymnasium, while Tecumseh, 1-6, will play Tippecanoe in the consolation game at 5:30 p.m.
The Bisons knocked off the Red Devils in double overtime in earlier action.
“I think you saw two teams that were hungry for a win,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “We knew they were going to come after us. One of the things we talked about was catching and shooting the basketball and we did that tonight.”
After Piqua took a 26-24 lead to the locker room, the fireworks ensued in the second half.
While Reid Hale would hit six threes in the second half and Brody Martin would add four more off the bench — with both recording a four-point play, the Indians never relinquished the lead.
Tecumseh pulled even twice — at 33 in the third quarter and 51 early in the fourth quarter.
“The good thing about it is even though Tecumseh made all those shots — and I think we had a hand in the face on 12 of them — we could see if we just catch and shoot the basketball, we were going to be OK.”
Another big key was the combo of Ben Schmiesing and Nate Monnin for the Indians — which is nothing new.
Schmiesing finished with 20 points and six rebounds, while Monnin — who sat out the second quarter because of fouls and didn’t score in the first half — poured in 17 points in the second half, to go with 12 rebounds and some big assists.
“They really do (work well together),” Butler said about the Piqua duo. “When you think about what a Piqua athlete is — gritty, tough, blue collard, those two kids just exemplify it.”
After the last tie, Piqua would go on a quick 9-0 run to make it 60-51 with 5:00 remaining.
Monnin scored off an inbounds pass, hit a three, scored on a Schmiesing assist and Hayden Schrubb added a basket off a steal.
Schrubb would have an even bigger 3-point play in the final minute — on the length of a court pass from Monnin — to take a 71-65 lead to 74-65 and seal the win.
“Nate’s (Monnin) been doing that since he was in the seventh grade,” Butler said with a smile.
Gage Smith hit four threes in the second half to help keep Tecumseh at bay.
“Gage (Smith) has finally gotten to where he is not questioning himself,” Butler said. “He knows when he shoots it is a good shot.”
Butler also cited the play of Nick Rigola, who got his first start.
“He didn’t even play against Troy,” Butler said. “Not only did he play well, he a couple threes in the first half. That just shows you.”
Smith added 13 points to the Indians cause and Schrubb had eight.
Hale netted 24 points for Tecumseh and Martin added 23 for the Arrows, who would make 15 3-pointers as a team.
Clay Mastin added 16 points.
Piqua was 25 of 47 from the floor for 53 percent and 14 of 22 from the line for 64 percent.
Tecumseh was 23 of 44 from the floor for 52 percent and seven of 12 from the line for 58 percent.
Now the Indians get ready for another challenge.
“It is a different challenge and different style of basketball,” Butler said. “But, Belmont plays the style of basketball we are going to be seeing from some teams coming up on our schedule like Trotwood and Xenia. So, it will be good to see.”
After surviving a wild one on the opening night of the B.I.G. Classic.
Clay Mastin 6-1-16, Reid Hale 7-4-24, Drew Sarihan 0-0-0, Ross Warren 1-0-2, Brett Bogie 1-0-2, Brody Martin 8-1-23, Darian Spencer 0-0-0, Will Sowder 0-1-1, David Berner 0-0-0. Totals: 23-7-68.
Nick Rigola 2-0-6, Hayden Schrubb 3-2-8, Gage Smith 4-1-13, Nate Monnin 6-4-17, Ben Schmiesing 6-5-20, Caleb Patton 1-2-4, Devon Brown 2-0-4, Xion Harrison 1-0-3, JJ Rohrbach 0-0-0. Totals: 25-14-75.
3-point field goals — Mastin (3), Hale (6), Martin (6). Piqua: Rigola (2), Smith (4), Monnin, Schmiesing (3), Harrison.
Score By Quarters
Tecumseh 9 24 45 68
Piqua 12 26 49 75
Records: Piqua 2-5, Tecumseh 1-6.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.