By Rob Kiser
It was another step in the process.
And while the final outcome — and 78-71 overtime loss to Northmont in GWOC crossover action Friday night at Garbry Gymnasium — wasn’t what Piqua boys basketball coach had hoped for, he could like back at the final two minutes of regulation and see another step forward from his team.
The Indians were five down with 1:31 to play in regularion and still down 65-61 with 34.4 seconds to go, before forcing overtime.
Piqua dropped to 5-8 with the loss, while Northmont improved to a deceiving 4-7.
“We have a number of kids on this team that in middle school, freshman and JV didn’t experience a lot of wins,” Grasso said. “I don’t think at the beginning of the year we would have gotten this game to overtime — we probably would have gotten down in the second half and lost the game. No question, we learned a lot tonight.”
With 27 seconds to go and Piqua trailing 65-61, Mick Karn drove to the basket and scored.
After Northmont missed the front end of a one-and-one, Quirri Tucker scored his 29th and 30th points on a drive to the basket with 11.9 seconds to go to tie it at 65.
A Northmont shot just before the buzzer bounced off the rim, forcing overtime.
“Those were awesome, awesome plays,” Grasso said about Karn and Tucker’s baskets. “And we got a defensive stop at the end to get it to overtime.”
In the overtime, Ben Schmiesing had two baskets and the game was tied at 69 with 1:45 to go.
But, the Indians were outscored 9-2 the rest of the way. Northmont scored on its first six possessions in overtime.
“A lot of those were runouts after turnovers,” Grasso said. “The message to the players after the game was how proud I was of each and everyone of them and the way they battled out there.”
Grasso looked back at the missed opportunities in the first half, which finished with Piqua trailing 30-23.
“I feel like we could have easily had a 12 to 15 point lead at halftime,” Grasso said. “If we had just made the easy shots we had missed. We talked about not turning the ball over and giving them runouts and we did that.”
Tucker scored 11 points in the third quarter and hit a three to get Piqua within 44-41 going to the fourth quarter.
Devon Brown had nine points in the fourth quarter and his drive to the basket gave Piqua a 52-51 lead with 3:49 remaining.
But Jabari Perkins was money for Northmont down the stretch.
He responded by scoring 11 points on the T-Bolts next four possessions — in 1:30 — to give Northmont a 62-57 lead before Piqua rallied.
He also scored six points in overtime — 18 in the fourth quarter and overtime — and made his last seven shots from the floor, including three 3-pointers.
“We lost him there a couple times,” Grasso said. “He hit some big shots.”
Tucker finished with a career high 30 points to lead the Indians, while Schmiesing had another double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Brown added 11 points and Schrubb grabbed seven rebounds.
Perkins led Northmont with 25 points.
Jamaal Linson scored 15 points and Danny Lewis added 11 points and six rebounds.
Piqua made 28 of 54 shots from the floor for 52 percent and 10 of 20 from the line for 50 percent.
Northmont made 31 of 64 shots from the floor 48 percent and 11 of 19 free throws for 58 percent.
The T-Bolts won the battle of the boards 25-24 and had 20 turnovers to Piqua’s 26.
“I am so proud of the way our kids played,” Grasso said. “This time, we got the game into overtime. One of these times, we are going to take the next step.”
And complete the process.
And there would be not better time than Tuesday, when the Indians travel to Fairborn.
Dawson Walker 2-0-4, Jabari Perkins 10-1-25, Jamaal Linson 5-5-15, Ryan Foy 2-0-4, Danny Lewis 4-2-11, Ifeanyi Nwanoro 1-1-3, Prophet Johnson 1-1-3, Patrick Ivory 0-0-0, Donavin Wallace 2-1-5, Cameron Rucker 4-0-8, Kameron Mathis 0-0-0. Totals: 31-11-78.
Nick Rigola 1-0-2, Devon Brown 5-1-11, Hayden Schrubb 2-2-7, Qurri Tucker 13-1-30, Ben Schmiesing 6-4-17, Mick Karn 1-2-4, Trey Richmond 0-0-0, Xian Harrison 0-0-0. Totals: 28-10-71.
3-point field goals — Northmont: Perkins (4), Lewis. Piqua: Schrubb, Tucker (3), Schmiesing.
Score By Quarters
Northmont 13 30 44 65 78
Piqua 11 23 41 65 71
Records: Northmont 4-7, Piqua 5-8.
Reserve score: Northmont 67, Piqua 38.