By Rob Kiser
They say what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
If that’s the case, the Piqua boys basketball team should be ready for an Olympic gold medal in weightlifting after last weekend.
Less than 24 hours after losing on a 3-point shot at the buzzer at Xenia, the Indians lost on a buzzer beater at St. Marys.
“You would think that something like that would be tough to come back from,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “But, we have a really strong team. I was impressed how well they handled things Saturday night.”
When, they arrived back at Piqua Saturday, a show choir event was going on at PHS.
“The kids walked in, held their heads high and told people they just didn’t get it done,” Butler said. “Then, a lot of them stayed to support the show choir. I thought they showed a lot of maturity in the way they handled it.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Indians.
Piqua, 3-9, will conclude a three-game road stretch when it travels to 11-2 Northmont Friday, before hosting 7-6 Fairborn on Saturday.
“That (Northmont) will be a big challenge,” Butler said. “They are coming off some big wins, including Wayne.”
The T-Bolts are a balanced group.
Christian Wilson, a 6-foot-senior, averages 8.9 points, but is a big part of the T-Bolts success.
“If I had to pick one guy to look at it would be him,” Butler said about Wilson. “He is the guy that makes them go. He has been playing since his sophomore year, if not his freshman year. He can hit some outside shots and can push the ball up and down the floor.”
Vinson Walker, a 6-5 senior, averages 12.8 points and 8.4 rebounds, while 6-foot senior Rodney Richardson averages 12.5 points and 4.8 assists.
Artus Spears, a 6-2 senior and Jabari Perkins, a 6-1 junior, both average more than eight points a game.
Junior post/wing Ben Schmiesing (6-2) averages 13 points and 5.8 rebounds, while 6-3 senior Nate Monnin averages almost a double-double with 10.8 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Gage Smith, a 6-3 wing, can be deadly from the 3-point line and averages 8.4 points per game.
“Northmont is really explosive,” Butler said. “They are a lot like Wayne, Trotwood and West Carrollton. We have to make sure we control the tempo, because they can score a lot of points quickly. I think it is going to help us because we have faced those kind of teams.”
Piqua will follow that with a Tuesday game with Fairborn in GWOC American play.
The Skyhawks are led by 6-foot senior Branden Lilley, who averages 14.9 points a game.
Shaunn Monroe, a 5-11 sophomore, averages 11.7 points, while 6-4 senior Jacob Webb averages 8.2 points and 5-11 senior Brandon Easterling grabs 5.9 rebounds a game.
“Fairborn is always a tough game,” Butler said. “It is nice to be back home for that one, but we have to make sure we match Fairborn’s physicality. Fairborn is a physical team and that is something we have had a problem with in the past against them.”
The Indians will probably be looking forward to getting back on the court.
“I think this little break (Tuesday) was good for us,” Butler said. “I believe our best basketball is in front of us. We have been on a roll since Trotwood, even though we haven’t gotten the wins to show it. We want to keep that going. There are still a lot of things we can accomplish.
“There are always games you would like to have back, but that is not how it works. I think if anything, last weekend is going to help us — it is going to drive us.”
As well as making the Indians stronger.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.