SIDNEY — The Piper twins are going to be a handful for many teams to try to contain this year. Botkins found out in a Shelby County Athletic League game on Tuesday — including in the final seconds.
Fairlawn took a double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter and survived a late rally by the Trojans to earn a 64-59 win at The Hangar.
The Jets (2-1, 1-1 SCAL) took a 12-point lead by the end of the first and led by around 10 for much of the fourth until Botkins went on a 10-2 run in the final minute to cut the gap to one point. Sophomore guard Ashton Piper hit four free throws as a result of two fouls with one second left to secure the win.
Piper and brother Skyler Piper look to lead the Jets this year and the next two years. Ashton Piper scored a game-high 24 points while Skyler Piper, also a sophomore guard, finished with 23.
“They’re gamers,” Fairlawn coach Justin Tidwell said of the Pipers. “They come up and they play hard, and I think high school basketball is about playing hard.
“You’ve got to give credit to our other kids, who put them in a position to get an easy post touch or set the screens to get Skyler open up top. I think the first three games for us, it’s been a complete team effort, and I can’t complain at all.”
Fairlawn led 34-21 at halftime, and Skyler Piper opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 16 points.
But the Trojans (0-4, 0-2) fought back late, which first-year coach Sean Powell was happy to see. He wasn’t happy the team fouled a lot in the second half and sent Fairlawn to the free-throw line. The Jets made 24-of-32 foul shots while Botkins made 9-of-19.
“I think the tempo in the last quarter was where we like it at, and I think it helped us get back into the game,” Powell said. “We kept sending them to the line. …Whenever that happens, it’s hard to win a game.”
Tyler Free hit a 3 from the right wing with six seconds left in the third to pull Botkins within 44-34, then Zane Paul opened the fourth with a 3 to cut the deficit to seven.
Ashton Piper made a free throw a little later, then Holman Rosales hit a basket off the glass with 6:39 left to give the Jets a 47-37 lead. The gap hovered around 10 points until the final minute.
Jacob Pleiman hit a 3 from the left wing with 47 seconds left to cut the lead to 58-52. Botkins put on a full-court press and stole the ensuing inbounds pass. Paul made a pass to Tyler Free, who hit a shot off the glass with 31 seconds left to cut the lead to four points.
Fairlawn’s Drew Maddy made a pair of free throws with 28 seconds left, then Botkins’ Spencer Heuker made a shot off the glass with 15 seconds left to trim the lead to 60-56.
The Jets were called for a five-second violation on the ensuing inbounds pass, and Botkins’ Jaydon Wendel made a 3 from the top of the key with about three seconds left to close the gap to 60-59.
After a couple of timeouts, Fairlawn got the ball inbounds to Ashton Piper, who was fouled.
“When we’re getting full-court pressed like that, we like to get it in to our playmakers hands,” Tidwell said. “Maddy has done a great job so far this year, but with Ashton’s physique, it gives us a bigger target to get it to because he’s a little bit bigger than (Maddy). At the end there, that was our goal, for (Ashton Piper) to roll back and catch that ball.”
Powell was called for a technical foul for arguing about time that came off the clock after the inbounds pass. Piper made 4-of-4 free-throws as a result of both fouls, and the Jets held on to win.
“Botkins did a great job and played hard until the end,” Tidwell said. “We preached all week that they have shooters, and you’re never out of a game, no matter what the score is. They came at the end and hit some big 3s. We were evening playing good defense there. They’re just good shooters.”
Fairlawn scored the first six points of the game, but Heuker made three baskets over the next two minutes to help the Trojans pull within 9-6 with 3:34 left in the first.
The Jets quickly took control from there. Skyler Piper made a basket in the paint and then followed with a 3-pointer, then Ashton Piper made a pair of free throws with 1:29 left. Skyler Piper made a layup after a steal on the next possession to push Fairlawn’s lead to 18-6.
“I thought we did very well defensively in the first half and were able to contain their shooters and the dribble-drive,” Tidwell said. “I think you have to give them credit. They kind of wore us down, and when it got to the end there, we started slacking defensively and were being lackadaisical with the ball offensively as well.”
Botkins didn’t pull closer than eight points the rest of the first half.
“They were a physical team, and we knew that coming in,” Powell said. “They’re strong on the boards even though they’re undersized, but we weren’t ready to stop that tonight. …We’re getting closer. Every day, we’re trying to improve. Tomorrow, we’ll go back to practice, look at some film and get ready for Friday.”
Botkins hosts Russia in SCAL action on Friday. Fairlawn’s next game is Saturday at home against Bradford.
Heuker led the Trojans with 17 points while Paul finished with 13 and Pleiman added 12.
Anna at Russia postponed due to power outage
A power outage at Russia High School led to a highly-anticipated matchup between Anna and the Raiders being postponed.
The freshman game began as normal at 4:30, but power at the school was lost at a little before 6. School administrators decided about a half hour later to postpone the contest. Fans in attendance were issued vouchers that can be used when the game takes place.
The makeup date will be determined by the schools later this week.
ScoreBroadcast.com’s Jack Kramer reported power was restored at the school at about 6:45.