By Rob Kiser
SIDNEY — It may not have been pretty at times.
There may be plenty of room for improvement.
But, the Piqua girls basketball team got what it needed most Friday night — a season opening win over Fairlawn in a 50-48 thriller.
“This is what it is all about,” Piqua coach Brian Gillespie said. “What a great game. This is what I live for. In the end, we got the W and that is what matters.”
When Emily Powell hit a three late in the third quarter, Piqua lead 37-26.
Fairlawn, who let an eight-point lead get away in the second quarter, made a furious rally behind MaCalla Huelskamp, Kennedy Spicer and Lauren Dudgeon.
They combined for all Fairlawn points in the fourth quarter and the Jets held a 48-44 lead with 2:05 to go, before a wild finish.
Kelsey Bachman scored on a drive to the basket for Piqua with 1:22 left to make it 48-46 and after a Fairlawn turnovers, Lauren Williams hit one of two free throws with 54.2 seconds to go to make it 48-47.
With 41.7 seconds to go, Bachman hit two free throws to give Piqua a 49-48 lead.
“We hit some big shots,” Gillespie said.
Then, with 28.3 seconds to go, Piqua got a rebound after three close range shots by Fairlawn missed — but the Lady Indians were called for traveling — with a technical foul to follow.
“Our girl yelled because she hit her knee and thought she had injured it,” Gillespie said. “She wasn’t yelling at the referee, but it was still a technical.”
Fairlawn missed both free throws and failed to score on the possession.
With 9.2 seconds left, Fairlawn was called for an intentional foul.
Lily Stewart hit one of two free throws to give Piqua a 50-48 lead and the Indians then inbounded the ball.
Piqua drove to the basket and missed — giving Fairlawn one last chance. But, after a timeout, the Jets were forced to settle for a desperation shot from beyond midcourt that was well short and Piqua had the win.
“That was a Blow Your Mind moment,” Gillespie said about Piqua taking a shot with the lead in the closing seconds. “But, we are always telling the girls to attack. We just need to be a little better about our management, but it was a great team effort.”
After a slow start, Piqua had fallen behind 15-8 with 3:00 remaining in the first half.
“It was the first game of the season,” Gillespie said. “We came out really sluggish.”
But, the Lady Indians, doing most of the damage in transition, scored 15 points in the final two minutes of the half to take a 23-18 lead at the break.
Stewart had five points in the run — including a three — Bachman and Kelsey Magoteaux had four each and Powell hit two free throws.
Piqua had a similar run late in the third quarter and seemed to be in control until Fairlawn rallied.
“Those were helpful,” Gillespie said about the runs Piqua was able to create in transition.
In the end, Piqua was able to find a way to win.
Stewart led a balanced attack with 12 points, Bachman scored 10 and Tylah Yeomans added nine.
Huelskamp led all scorers with 19 for Fairlawn and Dudgeon added 10.
Piqua will now play at Troy Christian Tuesday.
“We definitely have some things to work on,” Gillespie said. “But, this is the deepest team we have had. I am comfortable putting nine players in there. And, we found a way to win.”
Which is all that really mattered.
Lauren Williams 1-2-4, Kelsey Magoteaux 1-2-4, Emily Powell 2-0-5, Kelsey Bachman 3-4-10, Lily Stewart 4-2-12, Tylah Yeomans 2-5-9, Elizabeth Kidwell 2-0-4, Tayler Grunkemeyer 1-0-2, Skylar Sloan 0-0-0. Totals: 16-15-50.
Skyler Jones 1-0-3, Lauren Dudgeon 2-5-10, Kennedy Spicer 2-2-7, MaCalla Huelskamp 5-9-19, Jessica Batton 2-0-4, Alexis Graves 2-1-5, Allison Roush 0-0-0, Brianna Rufus 0-0-0, Brittany Strunk 0-0-0. Totals: 14-17-48.
3-point field goals — Piqua: Powell, Stewart (2). Fairlawn: Jonas, Dudgeon, Spicer.
Score By Quarters
Piqua 5 23 37 50
Fairlawn 5 18 30 48
Records: Piqua 1-0, Fairlawn 0-1.
Reserve score: Piqua 22, Fairlawn 17.