By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
VANDALIA — The Piqua girls basketball team made a valiant comeback in the second half.
But it wasn’t enough to overcome the hot shooting of Butler in the first half as the Aviators won 55-43 in the Miami Valley League Miami Division opener for both teams.
Butler is now 1-2 overall, while Piqua is 3-1 heading into a girls/boys doubleheader with Sidney Friday.
“I am really proud of my girls,” Piqua coach Greg Justice said. “This was our third game in five days.”
Piqua found itself trailing 34-17 early in the third quarter, when Piqua’s full-court pressure and Evan Neely going to the bench with her third foul corresponded in a big comeback as the Indians finished the quarter with a 17-3 run.
Tylah Yeomans started the run with a 3-point play, Kathy Young hit two 3s in the run and Karley Johns had four points.
Young, who had 11 points in the second half, then hit a basket to get Piqua within 37-34 with 33 seconds left in the quarter and Tayler Grunkemeyer’s 3-point shot at the buzzer would have tied the game if it went in.
“Kathy (Young) had a great second half. She was really clutch,” Justice said. “They were doing a great job defensively on Tylah (Yeomans). They weren’t going to let her catch the ball.”
Piqua was still within 42-38 with just under four minutes remaining when a collision between Butler’s Sami Bardonaro and Yeomans under the Butler basket was called a blocking foul. The shot went in, and after Bardonaro missed the free throw, Evan Neely got the rebound and scored to put Butler up 46-38 — and Piqua could never get within striking distance again.
“I am so proud of my girls,” Justice said. “We were down 34-17 on the road, playing for the third time in five days. It would have been easy for them to quit and they didn’t.”
Butler came out on fire to start the game.
The Aviators hit their first six shots to take a 16-4 lead after one quarter and increased it to 30-15 at halftime.
Evan Neely and Emily Ledbetter combined for 17 points inside in the opening half, while Gracie Price, Bardanaro and Lexi Crawford all hit 3-pointers.
“I know there were times when we didn’t play defense as well as we could have,” Justice said. “But, they also knocked down some shots.”
Johns scored all 15 of her points in the first three quarters to lead Piqua, as Butler smothered Piqua’s Scrubb and Yeomans inside.
“Vandalia did a good job defensively,” Justice said. “There is no question (Piqua learned more from this game than their three wins).”
Johns also had five rebounds, while Yeomans had nine points, six rebounds and four steals.
Young scored 11 points, while Scrubb had 11 rebounds and Grunkemeyer had four assists.
Evan Neely had 23 points and four steals for Butler, while Barnadaro had nine points and four assists.
Ella Neely led them on the boards with five rebounds.
Piqua was 16 of 51 from the floor for 31 percent, including four of 16 from long range for 25 percent. The Lady Indians made seven of 11 free throws for 64 percent.
Vandalia was 21 of 43 from the floor for 49 percent, including three of 14 from long range for 21 percent. The Lady Aviators made 10 of 16 free throws for 63 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 28-25 and had 14 turnovers to Butler’s 15.
The NBA schedule continues for the Indians Friday.
“It will be our fourth game in seven days,” Justice said. “We will see what happens.”
After an amazing comeback Wednesday came up short.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at email@example.com.
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