By Rob Kiser
The Piqua boys basketball team has a date in the Flyin’ To The Hoop tournament Monday morning.
But before that, the Indians will need to take care of business in the GWOC North Friday night.
Piqua, 7-5 overall and 1-2 in the GWOC North, will play at Vandalia-Butler, 2-7 overall and 0-3 in the GWOC North.
“They are playing for a new coach,” Piqua boys basketball coach Heath Butler said about the Aviators. “Anytime you are in that situation, you are going to look to make an impression.”
The Aviators are led by 6-foot-4 senior Zach Leadbetter, who averages 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Torin Fletcher, a 5-11 senior guard, averages 8.0 points, while 6-5 senior Brian Jenkins averages 7.8 points.
“They do have (a couple big kids inside),” Butler said. “They do a good job of getting them the ball. They don’t pound it in to them. They just work really hard on offense. Defensively they will play a lot of zone.”
The Aviators may be a little more uptempo than in the past.
“I don’t think they feel like they have to slow the ball down to win,” Butler said. “They will take transition if it is there. But, once they get in their offense, they work until they get a shot.”
Piqua will counter with one of the GWOC’s leading scorers in 6-4 senior Colton Bachman, who averages 22.2 points per game.
Nate Monnin, a 6-3 junior post averages almost a double-double and is coming off a big weekend.
Monnin averages 12.6 point s and 9.4 rebounds and is coming off a 17-rebound game against St. Marys.
Bradley Hohlbein, a 6-3 senior guard, adds 11.7 points and 3.3 assists.
Butler knows the Indians need to be ready Friday night.
“It is a big floor and a difficult environment,” Butler said. “It is always been a difficult place to play. We need to be ready to play.”
The Indians will play 12-4 Marion Catholic (Ill.) at 10 a.m. Monday morning at Trent Arena in the Flyin’ To The Hoop tournament.
“It is a tremendous honor to be invited back to the tournament,” Butler said. “We are going in with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. We didn’t play very well. We didn’t have Colton (Bachman because of illness) and maybe that was part of it. But, when you don’t play well at that tournament, you get exposed. I think we definitely have something to prove.”
But, it won’t be easy.
Piqua fans may be aware of one of Marion Catholic’s former players in Tyler Ulis, who now is Kentucky’s second leading scorer.
“That says a lot to have somebody on Kentucky’s roster from your school,” Butler said. “They just have some super athletes. They have a lot of size, led by a 6-foot-7 junior. They will not go up-and-down as much as Cincinnati Walnut Hills last year. It is still pressure, but it is no an in-your-face full-court pressure. But, we are going to have to play well.”
The Indians are coming off a weekend split with Greenville and St. Marys.
“We played alright against Greenville, we just didn’t knock down any shots,” Butler said. “And with the guys we put on the floor, we feel like we are a good shooting team. I was really pleased with the way we came back and responded against St. Marys Saturday.”
He hopes they continue that momentum this weekend — and prove something at the Flyin’ To The Hoop Monday.