By Rob Kiser
ELIDA — It wasn’t flawless by any means.
But, given it was less than 24 hours after an emotional win over Sidney in overtime, it was exactly what Piqua boys basketball coach Heath Butler was looking for headed into the holiday break.
On the road against an Elida team with a deceiving 1-6 record, the Indians found a way to gut out a 63-59 win over the Bulldogs.
Elida had been in every game, with several two-point losses.
“And they beat Celina, who was picked to win the WBL,” Butler said. “They are a dangerous team. We had an hour and 15 minute bus ride up here. I thought we really grinded it out. We were poised tonight, but not in the same way we were last night.”
The first three quarters were tightly contested, but Piqua came out with the lead at the end of each quarter.
The Indians were up 14-13 after one quarter, 32-31 at halftime and 46-42 after three quarters.
After a Josh Press three and a Logan Alexander three closed Elida to within 51-50 with just over six minutes remaining, Piqua answered with an 9-0 run to take control.
Colton Bachman hit a three, Bradley Hohlbein had a putback and Nate Monnin tipped in his own miss. Hohlbein added two free throws and it was 60-50 with 3:01 remaining.
After getting outrebounded in the first half, Piqua owned an 18-10 advantage on the boards in the second half.
“I thought the rebounding was a big thing,” Butler said. “I am pretty sure we got outrebounded in the first half and we owned the boards in the second half. Derrick Gullett and CJ Davis both had some big rebounds. There were times when Brad Hohlbein had to post up inside and he was effective doing that.”
But, the Bulldogs showed what makes them so dangerous.
Elida shot 32 3-pointers in the game and Drew Sarno and Daniel Unruh had back-to-back threes to make it 62-59 with 1:02 remaining.
“They had some guys that can shoot the three,” Butler said. “With our defense protecting the paint, they were able to get some shots off from out there. It was a little bit like the Wapak game. Sometimes you run into a hot shooting team. The difference tonight was we didn’t lose our poise or get rattled.”
After an empty possession for each team, Bachman was fouled with 13.8 seconds to go and hit one of two free throws to make it 63-59 and Elida was unable to score again.
Bachman had 21 points, four steals and five rebounds for Piqua, while Hohlbein had 16 points and six rebounds.
Monnin had 10 points and seven rebounds and Davis dished out six assists.
Press had 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Elida.
Sarno had 16 points and four assists, while Unruh scored 10 points and Baylen Stinson had eight rebounds.
Piqua was 22 of 44 from the floor for 50 percent — including five of 16 from 3-point range for 31 percent.
The Indians made 14 of 21 free throws for 67 percent.
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well from the outside as we normally we do,” Butler said. “But, I thought we did a good job getting the ball inside.”
Elida was 22 of 49 from the floor for 45 percent — including 12 of 32 from behind the arc for 38 percent.
The Bulldogs made three of six free throws for 50 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 30-24 and had 12 turnovers to the Bulldogs 14.
The Indians, 5-2, are now off until the BIG Insurance Group Holiday Classic.
They will play Tippecanoe in the opening round of the Red Division on Dec. 29 at 8:30 p.m.
“It is a good team for a break,” Butler said. “We need it. Not emotionally, because we are coming off two wins. But, we need the time to recover and give their bodies a rest.”
Before looking to continue the momentum from this weekend.
Bradley Hohlbein 5-6-16, Derrick Gullett 2-1-5, Nate Monnin 4-2-10, CJ Davis 2-2-6, Colton Bachman 7-2-21, Ben Schmiesing 0-0-0, Nash Black 2-0-4, Brady Hill 0-1-1, Caleb Patton 0-0-0. Totals: 22-14-63.
Drew Sarno 5-1-16, Logan Alexander 3-0-7, Peyton Smith 0-0-0, Baylen Stinson 3-0-6, Josh Press 7-0-18, Daniel Unruh 3-2-10, Torey Carroll 1-0-2, Isaac McAdams 0-0-0, Skyler Smith 0-0-0. Totals: 22-3-59.
3-point field goals — Piqua: Bachman (5). Elida: Sarno (5), Alexander, Press (4), Unruh (2).
Score By Quarters
Piqua 14 32 46 63
Elida 13 31 42 59
Records: Piqua 5-2, Elida 1-7.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.