By Rob Kiser
CENTERVILLE — The smile on Nate Monnin’s face told the story Tuesday night in the Piqua locker room at Centerville High School.
The Piqua boys basketball team is having some fun — and back in the sectional finals for the first time since the 2006-07 basketball season after winning for the second time in three games with the Wave — a 56-53 win in Centerville D-I action Tuesday night.
“This feels really good — especially after losing that first game to Greenville,” Monnin said. “It was great to see Colton (Bachman) get the scoring record).”
After Clay Guillozet had singlehandedly put Greenville in front with a 20-point third quarter, Bradley Hohlbein drained some clutch threes to bring Piqua back, Monnin made six straight free throws in the final two minutes and Colton Bachman capped a night where he became Piqua’s all-time leading scorer with the two biggest free throws of the season.
“We had a lot of guys step up,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “The great thing about Brad (Hohlbein) and Nate (Monnin) is they both had some turnovers that hurt us and came back and made some big plays.”
With Piqua trailing 44-40, a Bachman basket was sandwiched between Hohlbein’s fourth and fifth threes of the game to give Piqua a 48-46 lead with 3:47 remaining.
Nobody would score again, until Guillozet hit two free throws with 1:31 to go to tie the game 48-48.
Monnin hit two free throws at the 1:18 mark, but Aaron Rich answered for the Wave with 1:10 to go to tie it at 50.
Trae Wood gave Greenville a 52-50 lead with 56 seconds to go, before Monnin was fouled bringing the ball up the floor and hit both frees to tie it at 52 with 53 seconds to go.
“I don’t know,” Monnin, a 48 percent free throw shooter on the season, said. “I just needed to make them.”
Greenville threw the ball away with 33 seconds to go and Bachman was fouled on a drive to the basket with 15.6 seconds to go.
“My knees were shaking on the free throws, I will tell you that,” Bachman, who calmly hit both of them, said.
With Piqua leading 54-52, Guillozet was fouled on a drive to the basket with 2.4 seconds to go.
After he made the first one, Monnin was inserted into the game for rebounding purposes.
The second was just off the mark and Monnin grabbed the rebound near the corner was fouled with less than a second remaining.
“I just knew I had to get the ball (on the rebound),” Monnin said. “That is what I was thinking — get the ball.”
Fittingly, he drained both free throws to finish off the win.
And a Piqua team that had made just 12 of 25 free throws against Greenville in the first meeting in January, finished 13-for-13 from the line for the game.
“Coach (Butler) did a great job preparing us and had us working on free throws all week,” Bachman said. “For Nate (Monnin) to step up the way he did. That is huge for a junior to do something like that in that situation.”
After getting in a 6-0 hole early in the game, Piqua quickly turned things around with 3-point shooting.
Hohlbein hit two quick ones and the Indians made six in the first half to lead 16-14 after one quarter and 24-20 at halftime.
The final points of the half — a three by Bachman, fittingly enough — eclipsed Mark Matthews record of 1,554 points. Bachman finished the game with 1,566 points.
“To be honest, I wasn’t even aware that the shot gave me the record,” Bachman said. “I wanted it to be a three or a free throws, those are the two shots that change the game the most.”
Piqua had a 38-33 lead late in the third quarter when Guillozet took over.
“Honestly, that was just him making plays and getting to the basket,” Butler said. “I thought we did a good job on him all night. I thought Ben Schmiesing really played well on defense tonight.”
Guillozet scored nine points in the final 1:34 of the quarter — outscoring Piqua 20-14 in the quarter by himself — as Greenville took 42-38 lead to the final eight minutes.
“That’s what he does,” Bachman said about the GWOC North Player of the Year, who had two points in the opening half. “I play with him in the summer — we are best friends — you know he is going to do that. He is just a great player.”
But, two big bombs by Hohlbein from the top of the key rallied the Indians — and Bachman and Monnin finished things from the line.
“This just shows you, when you work hard and do the right things, good things will happen,” Butler said.
Bachman led Piqua with 22 points, while Hohlbein had 19 and Monnin added eight points and eight rebounds.
Guillozet had 25 points for Greenville.
Isaiah Gable had 10 points and five rebounds and Aaron Rich added eight points.
Piqua was 17 of 41 from the floor for 41 percent, along with the perfect free throw shooting.
Greenville was 21 of 34 from the floor for 67 percent and 10 of 14 from the line for 71 percent.
The Indians won the battle of the boards 17-14 and had 15 turnovers to Greenville’s 18.
While the Wave closes 31-11, Piqua will take a 14-10 record into Friday’s game with top seed and defending state champion Wayne at 7 p.m. at Centerville High School.
“I think we can take them,” Monnin said with a laugh.
He and the Indians are definitely having some fun.
Devin Hendrix 1-2-4, Trae Wood 3-0-6, Clay Guillozet 10-5-25, Aaron Rich 4-0-8, Isaiah Gable 3-3-10, Peter Pandey 0-0-0. Totals: 21-10-53.
Bradley Hohlbein 7-0-19, Derrick Gullett 0-0-0, Nate Monnin 1-6-8, CJ Davis 2-0-5, Colton Bachman 7-5-22, Brady Hill 0-0-0, Ben Schmiesing 0-2-2, Nash Black 0-0-0, Caleb Patton 0-0-0, Tyren Cox 0-0-0. Totals: 17-13-56.
3-point field goals — Greenville: Gable. Piqua: Hohlbein (5), Davis, Bachman (3).
Score By Quarters
Greenville 14 20 42 53
Piqua 16 24 38 56
Records: Greenville 13-11, Piqua 14-10.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.