By Rob Kiser
Steve Grasso’s debut as Piqua boys basketball coach certainly came under difficult circumstances.
Because of the lockdown with Piqua schools last week, the team could not practice on the Thursday and didn’t find out until several hours before the 62-38 loss to Wapakoneta last Friday that the game was going to be played.
But, Grasso didn’t make excuses.
“We had the lockdown situation Thursday and weren’t able to practice,” he said. “We learned about 2 p.m. Friday we would be playing. I texted the guys and we had quick preparation to try and get ready for Wapak. They are similar to what we do in practice, so it wasn’t real tough.”
Ben Schmiesing, a 6-2 senior post had 15 points and nine rebounds in the game, but the Indians made just eight of 22 free throws in the contest.
Grasso felt Piqua played better than the score indicated.
“I felt like we didn’t play that badly, we just had trouble putting the ball in the basket. And when I watched the films, it confirmed that. Going eight for 22 from the line certainly didn’t help anything.”
After a week off, Piqua will now play three games in five days.
The Indians, 0-1, will open GWOC American play at 2-0 Vandalia-Butler Friday, go to 0-1 Milton-Union Saturday in non-conference play and host 1-0 Tippecanoe in another GWOC American game Tuesday.
“I think whenever you play well and you lose, it is a long week waiting for that next game,” Grasso said. “You would rather just get right back at it.”
Grasso expects a tough challenge from Vandalia to open GWOC American play.
Vandalia opened the season with wins over Springfield Shawnee and Beavercreek.
The Aviators are led by 6-1 senior guard Kort Justice who is averaging 12.5 points per game after transferring from Miamisburg, while 6-1 junior Braedon Norman is averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Sutton Skapik, a 6-6 senior is averaging 6.5 rebounds and 6-6 junior Bryant Johnson is averaging 5.5 rebounds.
The Aviators have done it averaging just 43.5 points per game.
They are off to a 2-0 start,” Grasso said. “From what I learned, they are a half-court team. They are tall with some good athletes. They had a guard transfer in from Miamisburg (Kort Justice) who would have been Miamisburg’s best player. We have to find away to create more offense with our press. We only had four points in transition against Wapakoneta. We have to do better than that.”
Milton-Union, 0-1, is coached by Mitch Westerheide and lost its opener to Northridge.
William Morris, a 5-10 junior, led the Bulldogs in that game with 12 points and seven rebounds.
“I know they have a new coach,” Grasso said Monday night. “I will learn more about them as the week goes on.”
Tippecanoe also features a new coach in Adam Toohey.
Tipp defeated Oakwood 78-70 in its opener.
Caiden Smith, a 6-1 senior guard, had 20 points and four steals in the win, while 5-11 sophomore Ben Sauls had 17 points and 6-1 senior Cade Gingerich scored 10.
Zach Losey, a 6-6 senior, grabbed five rebounds in that game.
“They are an athletic team,” Grasso said. “Again, it is another team with a new coach. Right, now (Monday) we are focused on putting the ball in the basket. We will start working on the technical stuff to prepare for the games after that.”
And no matter what, it should be a more normal preparation for game night.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.