By Rob Kiser
Monday was just another day in the winter sports season for Piqua boys basketball coach Steve Grasso as the Indians try to prepare for Friday’s GWOC crossover game with Northmont.
It will be Military Veterans Appreciation Night.
All military and veterans will be admitted free when they show their ID.
“I just had to cancel practice,” Grasso said in phone interview Monday morning. “We are supposed to be Wright State’s guest at their game with Youngstown State today (Monday). I still haven’t heard if the administration is going to allow us to do that. It is just part of coaching a winter sport.
“I think last year, we only had two snow days. You never know from year-to-year.”
And the weather certainly didn’t help anything in Saturday’s loss to unbeaten Elida.
The game with the unbeaten Bulldogs was going to be a challenge anyway, but on Saturday morning if the game was going to be played.
“We didn’t find out until around 1 p.m. that we were playing,” Grasso said. “On a day where we aren’t going to practice and kids typically sleep in, then you find out in the afternoon you have to get yourself mentally ready to go play a game.”
The Indians trailed 34-15 at halftime and lost 59-40.
“We couldn’t do anything (to stop them) until the second half when it was too late,” Grasso said. “It was a long bus ride. The freshman and JV games went really quick. But, the time we got there, it was already halftime of the JV game. I am not sure the kids were ready to play by the start of the game.”
Northmont is 3-7 on the season, but you shouldn’t be fooled by the T-Bolts record.
Northmont plays on the other side of the GWOC, in the National conference — which leads to a much tougher schedule.
“Their record is really deceiving,” Grasso said. “They have played a lot of tough teams. They took Vandalia-Butler into overtime.”
Northmont likes to get the ball up and down the floor and has a balanced attack.
Danny Lewis, a 6-foot junior, averages 11.1 points and 5.0 rebounds to lead the T-Bolts.
Ryan Foy, a 6-4 senior, averages 10.9 points and 7.0 rebounds, while 6-0 senior Jabari Perkins averages 9.9 points and 5-8 senior Donavin Wallace averages 9.1 points, 4.0 steals and 4.3 assists per game.
“They have seven guys averaging five points or more a game,” Grasso said. “It should be an energetic game for fans to watch.”
Piqua, 5-7, counters with the GWOC’s leading rebounder in 6-2 senior Ben Schmiesing.
Schmiesing averages 16.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.
Devon Brown, a 5-10 senior, averages 13.9 points, while 5-10 junior Qurri Tucker averages 11.5 points and 6-2 senior Hayden Schrubb averages 5.8 rebounds.
“We have been working hard (on getting off to faster starts,” Grasso said. “That certainly has been a focus.”
On Tuesday, Piqua will travel to 3-8 Fairborn for a GWOC American game.
Fairborn is led by 6-foot junior Shaun Monroe who averages 19.8 of the 49.2 points per game Fairborn scores. It will be the second of five games Piqua has remaining this month, with four against teams of similar records.
“These next five games will have a lot to do with where we are seeded in the sectional,” Grasso said. “The sectional will be a little tougher this year in that a lot of teams on the lower end have moved down to Division II. We have a number of games coming up against teams like Troy with similar records to ours.”
In other action Friday, Lehman Catholic will host Hardin Northern in NWCC play; Covington has a non-conference game with Fairlawn; Bradford will host Franklin Monroe, Miami East will entertain Bethel and Newton will travel to Twin Valley South in CCC action; Houston plays at Anna and Russia hosts Jackson Center in SCAL action; and Versailles hosts Fort Recovery in MAC action.
On Saturday, Lehman Catholic entertains Sidney, Bradford hosts Parkway, Covington hosts Houston, Miami East entertains Anna and Newton travels to Fairlawn.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.