PIQUA — Botkins earned a thrilling double overtime victory over Fort Loramie in the teams’ first Shelby County Athletic League matchup this season. The second time the squads faced off, the thrills all belonged to Fort Loramie in an 18-point victory.
“That shows the difference between the two programs,” Botkins coach Sean Powell said. “An inch difference in how we play, it could be a one-point game, or it could be a 20-point game.”
The two squads will look to inch toward a district final when they face off on Friday at Piqua’s Garbry Gymnasium. The No. 2 seed Trojans beat Riverside 58-33 in Division IV sectional final on Tuesday in Piqua while Fort Loramie pulled away late from Mississinawa Valley to set up a district semifinal rubber match.
“The boys are just going to leave it out on the floor, man,” Powell said. “It’s going to be a big fight. It sucks to play a team for the third team in the season, but that’s what you’ve got to do in order to get to districts.
“We’re going to go out there and give it our all, and I know they’re going to come with their best. You’ll see the best of the SCAL.”
Botkins, which tied with Fort Loramie for third place, won the teams’ first matchup 55-47 in double overtime on Jan. 3 on its home court thanks to an 11-3 scoring advantage in the second overtime.
The Redskins dominated the second matchup, which occurred on Valentine’s Day in Fort Loramie. They scored 16 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 28-21 halftime lead and outscored the Trojans 15-3 in the third quarter to run away to a 52-34 win.
“I felt like our boys didn’t get off the bus (in the second matchup),” Powell said. “Our game plan didn’t work. …It’s funny, because the first game in the second quarter, we made a lot of shots and they missed shots. In the second game in the second quarter, we missed shots and they made shots. That’s what it boils down to.
“Both teams are great defensive teams. We don’t give up too many easy shots, and they won’t give up too many easy shots. It’s a matter of making and missing.”
Botkins (18-6) made plenty against Riverside. Jayden Priddy-Powell led the squad with 14 points, Carter Pleiman added 13 and Tyler Free added nine. Six other players scored.
It was a typical scoring performance for the Trojans. Priddy-Powell, a junior guard, averages a team-best 13 points per game while Pleiman, a sophomore forward, averages 12.1 points. Free, a junior guard, averages 8.6 points while Zane Paul, a junior guard, averages 8.3.
Powell said he was happy with the scoring balance and happy with the performance. The Trojans beat Riverside 77-46 on Dec. 21 in Botkins, but Powell said a repeat performance wasn’t easy.
“I knew that they got a lot better since then, and we changed our style of play since then, and to pick up to where we were then and try to execute playing up-and-down, it was difficult for our boys,” Powell said. “Conditioning-wise, we’re not as deep as we once were, so going into here, there was a lot of question marks. For our kids to come out here and give max effort, I couldn’t be more proud.”
The Pirates hit 4-of-6 3-pointers in the first quarter, the last of which came on a shot from the left wing by Kaden Burk with six seconds left to tie the score 13-13.
The Trojans took over soon after by starting the second quarter with a 15-2 run that Paul capped off with a 3 with 3:14 left. They implemented a full-court trapping defense that caused a flurry of turnovers and made Riverside struggle to run its offense.
“Coaching at Perry, one thing I realized is when you’re a pressing team or a running team, teams can play with you for a quarter,” Powell said. “The conditioning factor doesn’t play in yet, the pressure of being constantly in your face hasn’t taken a toll yet. It’s the second quarter or maybe the third quarter where they go into the locker room and rest, then you pick it back up (in the second half), that is starts to take its toll.”
Botkins led 31-18 at halftime and pulled away with an 18-11 scoring advantage in the third quarter and 9-4 advantage in the fourth.
Junior guard John Zumberger and senior forward Wade Auflick each scored nine points for Riverside while Burk scored seven. The Pirates shot 11 for 43 (25.6 percent) from the floor and had 20 turnovers.
“We just struggled executing our game plan tonight,” Riverside coach Seth Bodenmiller said. “We knew that they would try to take certain things away and force us into bad situations and we just played right into their hands. The second quarter was rough for us, but I knew that our guys weren’t going to quit, and they never did.”
Riverside, which was the sectional’s No. 11 seed, finishes 6-17 overall. The Pirates will lose two seniors to graduation in Auflick and forward Denver Jackson. The rest of the squad’s 12-man roster should return, including Zumberger, who was an all-Northwest Central Conference selection.
“While it’s hard to see our season come to an end, I feel blessed to have had two seniors that gave me so much of their time, effort, and hard work over these last four years,” Bodenmiller said. “I think that our younger guys will have a very productive offseason and I am excited to see where our future takes us.”
Fort Loramie 39, Mississinawa Valley 25
It didn’t go according to the game plan, but the No. 3 seed Redskins (16-7) pulled away in the fourth quarter in Tuesday’s first sectional final in Piqua. It was the first tournament game for the squad, which took a first-round bye.
The Blackhawks’ defense and stellar rebounding combined with shooting struggles made things difficult for Fort Loramie. But the Redskins found some easy shots in the post early in the fourth quarter and used an 8-1 run to take a 12-point lead.
“Our kids are cool, calm and collected,” Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton said. “They’ve been in a lot of big moments before, whether it’s been other sports or basketball last year. They were cool, calm and collected and we finished.
“I thought Mississinawa did a good job of hanging around with good offensive rebounding in the third quarter, and I thought in the fourth quarter we really did a great job of finding bodies and going and getting the ball aggressively and holding them to one shot.”
“There will be no secrets, just like any other time you play someone three times a season,” Britton said. “They’ll be ready, we’ll be ready. I’m sure it will be a big-time matchup.”
Fort Loramie scored the last six points of the third quarter to take an 18-12 halftime lead and scored the first two points of the third. Cody Dirksen made a 3 with 5:17 left to cut the gap to five, then Blake Scholl made a basket with 3:14 left bring Mississinawa Valley within 20-17.
Nick Brandewie and Grant Albers hit baskets over the next 95 seconds to boost Fort Loramie’s lead to seven points, but Trey Godfrey made a late shot to cut the gap to 24-19 at the end of the third.
The Redskins opened the fourth quarter with the 8-1 run to put the game away, though. Nate Meyer hit a basket with 3:50 left and Nolan Berning made a pair of free throws a minute later to cap off the run and give Fort Loramie a 32-20 advantage.
“Our ball movement was good then,” Britton said of the team’s late scoring. “When we move the basketball, we’re pretty good. I thought early in the game, we just wanted to dribble it a lot. The ball was sticking in people’s hands a lot.
“I think that has to do with us only playing two seniors, and they barely played tonight. We’re playing with a bunch of juniors and a sophomore on a big stage for the first time ever, so hopefully we got the jitters out and we’re ready to go Friday night.”
Meyer scored seven points in the first five minutes, including a jumper with 3:17 left that gave the Redskins a 9-2 lead.
Fort Loramie didn’t score the rest of the quarter, though, while the Blackhawks rattled off seven points to tie it 9-9. Alex Scholl scored the last five points of the run, including on a basket in the post with 55 seconds left.
The teams traded points to a 12-12 score midway through the second but Devin Ratermann and Damon Mescher hit two 3s for Fort Loramie in the last half of the quarter to give the squad a six-point halftime lead.
“The (low scoring) wasn’t the plan. We wanted to get the tempo rolling, but we just missed a bunch of cheap ones tonight,” Britton said. “I felt like we had good looks and were getting the ball where wanted to, but their physicality really bothered us. I’m a little disappointed in that aspect of it, but our kids did a nice job of fighting through it.”
Meyer led the Redskins with 11 points while Mescher finished with seven and Caeleb Meyer finished with six.
Blake Scholl led the Blackhawks with seven points.
Mississinawa Valley, which was the sectional’s No. 7 seed, finishes 12-12 overall.