By Rob Kiser
TIPP CITY — It was like a family reunion for Piqua boys basketball coach Heath Butler in the hallway outside the visitor’s locker room at Tippecanoe High School Tuesday night.
Among them were Colton Bachman, Bradley Hohlbein and Derrick Gullett from last year’s team — back for Christmas break.
And they had plenty to celebrate as Piqua came away with the victory in a matchup of winless teams.
The Indians improved to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in GWOC American play with the 48-44 victory, while Tippecanoe dropped to 0-3 and 0-2.
And while it wasn’t perfect down the stretch, the Indians found a way to finish off the victory.
“It is always a struggle here,” Butler said about playing at Tippecanoe. “It is never easy. What a gutty, gritty effort by our kids.”
Piqua was leading 33-27 going to fourth quarter when Caleb Patton scored all eight of his points to help Piqua take a 37-29 lead.
“He probably played the best game of anybody,” Butler said. “He could have pouted (not starting) but he came off the bench and gave us some great minutes and really sparked us.”
Tipp immediatley answered with threes by Zach Bonifas and Caiden Smith to cut the deficit to 37-35, but when Ben Schmiesing hit his six 3-pointer of the game, it gave Piqua a 47-39 lead with 3:05 to go.
“Gage Smith hit some big threes early and one in the fourth quarter,” Butler said. “Ben Schmiesing hit some big shots all night.”
While it was a struggle for Piqua the rest of the way — including quick shots and giving the ball back to Tipp under their own basket with 44 seconds to go after a length of the court pass went untouched, while making just one of four free throws down the stretch, Nate Monnin’s free throw with 6.6 seconds to go made it 48-44 and sealed the win.
“It is good to give some of those things (mistakes) on film,” Butler said. “That is something we can work on.”
Schmiesing led the Indians with 22 points and seven rebounds, while Monnin had a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Smith scored nine points and Patton added eight.
Bonifas led a balanced Tippecanoe attack with 10 points.
Quentin Williams had 10 points and eight rebounds, while Josh Wildermuth and Adam Grieshop both scored seven.
Piqua was 17 of 41 from the floor for 41 percent and five of nine from the line for 56 percent.
Tippecanoe was 15 of 36 from the floor for 42 percent and seven of 13 from the line for 54 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 27-23, but had 19 turnovers to Tippecanoe’s 10.
The Indians will now face a stiff challenge Friday, traveling to Sidney.
“They are everything people say,” Butler said. “We are going to have to play our best game. It is going to be an exciting game.”
Which Piqua will get to work on Wednesday after a win to celebrate Tuesday night.
Hunter Hawk 0-0-0, Hayden Schrubb 0-0-0, Gage Smith 3-0-9, Nate Monnin 3-3-9, Ben Schmiesing 8-0-22, Caleb Patton 3-2-8, Xion Harrison 0-0-0, Devon Brown 0-0-0, JJ Rohrbach 0-0-0, Nick Rigola 0-0-0. Totals: 17-5-48.
Zach Bonifas 3-2-10, Caiden Smith 2-1-6, Quentin Williams 3-1-8, Josh Wildermuth 2-2-7, Adam Grieshop 3-1-7, Noah Bledsoe 0-0-0, Cade Gingerich 1-0-3, Ben Sauls 1-0-3. Totals: 15-7-44.
3-point field goals — Piqua: Smith (3), Schmiesing (6). Tippecanoe: Bonifas (2), Smith, Williams, Wildermuth, Gingerich, Sauls.
Score By Quarters
Piqua 13 23 33 48
Tippecanoe 12 19 27 44
Records: Piqua 1-2 (1-1), Tippecanoe 0-3 (0-2).
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Piqua Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.