By Rob Kiser
SPRINGBORO — Heath Butler had heard the whispers.
So you can’t blame the Piqua boys basketball coach and his team if they opened the season with a little bit of a chop on their shoulders Friday night at Springboro.
The Indians made their point in a big way, rolling to an 83-69 win over Springboro on the road, with a double-digit lead almost the entire fourth quarter.
“They aren’t going to admit it now, but there were a number of people doubting this team,” Butler said about a team who lost one starter to transfer and had another suffer a serious knee injury. “I think we answered all the questions tonight. Sprinngboro won the South last year and has almost everyone back. They are a good team.”
In the the early going, Drew Holweger was on fire for Springboro.
He hit four threes from beyond NBA range and the Panthers had a 20-12 lead early in the second quarter.
“The (Drew) Holweger kid came out hot,” Butler said. “We knew he could shoot like that. But, nobody panicked. We buckled down and got some defensive stops.”
With Colton Bachman scoring 11 points in the opening half, the Indians closed within 30-27 by halftime.
From there, it was all Piqua.
The Indians outpointed Springboro 25-15 in the third quarter to go up 52-25 and capped a 56-point second half with 31 points in the fourth quarter.
“It was everyone,” Butler said. “There wasn’t a single guy that didn’t make plays. Even the guys on the bench who don’t expect to play a lot were in the game and encouraging the guys the whole game.”
Piqua finished the third quarter with 14-5 run, that included two threes by CJ Davis and one by Bachman — and rode that momentum the rest of the game.
Springboro could never make a serious run in the fourth quarter.
Everytime the Panthers would score, Piqua would get up a layup at the other end to frustrate Springboro.
The Indians handled the Panthers pressure and had some great assists, including two by Bradley Hohlbein and one each by Derrick Gullett and Nate Monnin.
“We did a great job playing as a team,” Butler said. “And we learned from our past mistakes. We attacked, attacked, attacked in the fourth quarter. Once we had them down, we finished it.”
Bachman, who had suffer a serious knee injury in August, also dispelled all doubters by scoring 26 points and hitting seven threes.
“If they (any doubters) want, I will show them the game film,” Butler said.
Hohlbein and Davis had 15 points and five rebounds each, with Davis scoring al 15 in the second half.
Gullett had 14, including 11 in the second half an Monnin had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Holweger led Springboro with 26 points.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 25-24 and had 14 turnovers to Springboro’s seven.
The Indians will look to continue the momentum tonight at Stebbins.
“We put a program in place to change the culture here five years ago and it is finally coming to fruition,” Butler said.
On Friday night, there was no doubt about that.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.