By Rob Kiser
The Piqua boys basketball team only has one direction to go — no matter how tough that challenge may be.
An the Indians are determined to do just that.
After a disappointing 75-39 loss to Belmont in the Red Bracket championship game of the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic, the Indians reward is to play an even more athletically challenging team in Trotwood Friday night at Garbry Gymnasium in GWOC American action.
Trotwood comes into the game 6-0 overall and 4-0 in GWOC American action, while Piqua is 2-6 overall and 1-4 in GWOC American action.
“We are not going to let that one game define our season,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “This is a huge challenge. Trotwood is averaging almost 99 points a game and only giving up 54 points.”
If anything, the Rams are more impressive than past seasons.
Torey Patton, a 6-foot-3 senior, does it all for the Rams — filling out the stat sheet with 17.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.3 steals per game.
But, he is hardly their only weapon.
Amari Davis, a 6-4 sophomore, averages 17.0 points, 6-2 junior Myles Belyeu averages 16.0 points and 7.3 rebounds and 6-2 senior Amir Foster averages 15.5 points.
Justin Stephens, a 6-6 sophomore adds 6.7 rebounds and leads the GWOC with 3.5 blocks per game.
“They have four guys averaging more than 15 points a game,” Butler said. “That is different from past Trotwood teams. They are a much more explosive team on offense this year.”
Piqua will counter with the duo of Ben Schmiesing and Nate Monnin.
Schmiesing, a 6-1 junior, averages 13.8 points and 7.0 rebounds, while Monnin, a 6-3 senior, fills out the stat sheet with 11 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
They are complimented by 6-1 senior guard Gage Smith, who averages 9.3 points and 5-10 junior guard Devon Brown, who was named to the all-tournament team at the B.I.G. Classic.
“We are going to have to find a way to slow them (Trotwood) down,” Butler said. “That includes keeping them off the offensive boards. Our kids have been working hard. We want to find a way to keep the game close and have a chance at the end.”
On Tuesday, another uptempo team will be on the schedule when Piqua hosts West Carrollton for another GWOC American game.
The Pirates are winless in seven games this season and 0-4 in GWOC American action.
Veshawn Champion, a 6-1 senior averages 12.5 points and 6.0 rebounds, while 6-3 senior Josh VanSkyoc is good for 9.5 points and 8.0 rebounds.
“They play a very similar style as Trotwood, with different caliber athletes,” Butler said. “Their coach (Tony Clemens) is a former Trotwood assistant. Coach Clemens has done a nice job with them. We have Xenia after that. So, this is going to be four games in a row facing basically the same style.
“We need to set the tempo, especially on defense. We need to know when to push the ball and when to make it more of a half-court game.”
And no matter the challenge, Butler knows his squad will do everything they can to start trending in the right direction.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.