By Rob Kiser
Just when it looked like the Piqua boys basketball team was about to drop a third straight game where the Indians held a double-digit lead, the Indians went to a ‘back’ up plan.
With the game tied in a wild finish against Fairmont Tuesday night at 67-67 in GWOC crossover action at Garbry Gymansium and 7.2 seconds remaining, the Indians called timeout.
Piqua coach Heath Butler knew the Firebirds would be focused on stopping Piqua’s leading scorer Colton Bachman
Bachman got the ball and found himself surrounded — so he whipped a pass to Derrick Gullett, who made a layup with 1,8 seconds to go to make it 69-67.
After a Fairmont tineout, Nate Monnin intercepted the inbounds pass to finish off the Piqua win.
“We knew they were going to be all over me,” Bachman said. “So, I went back door to Derrick and he delivered. We work on that play everyday in practice.”
Gullett finished the play off to perfection.
“I knew I had to make the shot,” Gullett said. “But, we still had to play defense for 1.8 seconds. It is just an incredible feeling to make a shot like that. This puts the last couple games behind us.”
Butler was confident after the late timeout.
“If you watch the film, there were three or four guys around him (Colton Bachman),” Butler said. “But, sometimes it is not easy to follow through on a play like that. I asked Derrick (Gullett) during the timeout if he got the ball, could me make the shot in that situation. He looked me right in the eyes and said yes her could.”
In the BIG Holiday Classic, Piqua had lost double-digit leads in the second half.
On the Tuesday, the 6-4 Indians had led 37-22 midway through the second quarter.
“I think what we forget sometimes is we have to keep doing what we did to get the lead,” Butler said. “Early on, we had great ball movement and the inside-out game working. Once we got the lead, our ball movement slowed down.”
But, with Fairmont bombing in 14 3-point field goals, the Firebirds had closed the gap to 42-35 at halftime and tied it at 54 at the end of the third quarter.
Jimmy Bergman hit eight shots from behind the arc in the first three quarters en route to scoring 28 points.
Fairmont then took the lead to start the fourth quarter on a Kamron Drollet three. He added another three and a basket at the 1:25 mark to put the Firebirds up 67-65.
But, Ben Schmiesing and Gullett tightened the defense on Bergman and Drollett and a Nate Monnin basket with 1:10 to go had tied the game at 67.
“We asked Ben (Schmiesing) and Derrick (Gullett) to just play them a little more aggressively and they did that,” Butler said.
With 26.6 seconds to go, Fairmont missed the front end of a one-and-one. Piqua turned the ball over, but then got a hustling steal to set up the dramatic finish.
“This is huge,” Bachman said. “There were definitely some tears shed over the holiday tournament. That was really disappointing. This was a really big win for us and exactly what we needed going into Friday’s game with Greenville.”
Butler just liked the heart his team showed.
“We had a lot of guys step up and make contributions,” Butler said. “Bradley (Hohlbein) got injured and some other guys made some plays. You look at the fourth quarter quarter. Derrick (Gullett) got fouled on a curl and made two free throws. Ben (Schmieisng) scored on an offensive rebound. Those are big plays.”
Bachman led Piqua with 23 points and five rebounds, while Monnin shad a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Schmiesing added eight points and six rebounds and CJ Davis grabbed five.
Drollett added 11 points to Firebirds cause and Kellen Bochenek had eight points, including two 3-pointers.
Piqua was 26 of 50 from the floor for 52 percent and 10 of 14 from the line for 71 percent. Fairmont was 25 of 58 from the floor for 43 percent and three of six from the line for 50 percent.
The Indians won the battle of the boards 30-18, but had 18 turnovers to Fairmont’s 14.
On a night when the 1985-86 Piqua team that finished 17-4 and was the last boys basketball team to win a conference title was honored at half, it was fitting that the Indians gave them a “championship” finish.
Piqua will host Greenville Friday in GWOC North play and St. Marys Saturday.
“I am so proud of Derrick Gullett,” Butler said. “To make a shot like that. That’s a shot he is going to remember for the rest of his life.”
Along with bringing Piqua ‘back’.
Darius Dunson 1-0-2, Cade Morgan 2-1-5, Jimmy Bergman 10-0-28, Kamron Drollet 4-0-11, Austin Tackett 1-0-2, Jansen Davison 1-0-2, Conor Van Oss 3-0-6, Ryan Hall 0-0-0, Brandon Hall 1-0-3, Kellen Bochenek 2-2-8, Dylan Crutchfield 0-0-0. Totals: 25-3-67.
Bradley Hohlbein 2-0-4, Derrick Gullett 2-2-7, Nate Monnin 7-1-16, CJ Davis 2-0-6, Colton Bachman 7-6-23, Ben Schmiesing 4-0-8, Hunter Hawk 0-0-0, Nash Black 2-0-4, Caleb Patton 0-1-1, Brady Hill 0-0-0. Totals: 26-10-69.
3-point field goals — Fairmont: Bergman (8), Drollett (3), B. Hall, Bochenek (2). Piqua: Gullett, Monnin, Davis (2), Bachman (3).
Score By Quarters
Fairmont 12 35 54 67
Piqua 22 42 54 69
Records: Fairmont 3-8, Piqua 6-4.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.