By Robert Billing
For the Sidney Daily News
BOTKINS — Botkins stayed close to hot-shooting Anna in the first half of a Shelby County Athletic League game on Friday. But the Rockets’ hot shooting continued into the second half and helped them pull away to an 86-63 victory on Botkins’ Homecoming game in the Coliseum.
Anna scored 52 points in the second half and held Botkins to 34. The Rockets made 34-of-47 attempts for a blistering 72 percent from the field. The offense was fueled by many steals, most of which they converted into easy layups. It was too much pressure for Botkins’s young team to overcome.
“We wanted to take control of the game with our speed and experience,” Anna coach Nate Barhorst said. “First half did not go as well with us making bad fouls. But we corrected that at halftime and you saw in the second half that we had kids who stepped up their game and made play after play.”
One of the players Barhorst was happy with in the second half was Isaac Lininger, who scored 21 points thanks in part to being the recipient of some of Botkins’ turnovers. He also made 3-of-4 3-pointers.
“Another kid who stepped up his game was Justin Murray. He’s a quick inside player and played well after Grant Doseck got two second quarter fouls. He rebounded well for us tonight,” Barhorst said.
Botkins was able to control Anna most of the first half and kept the score much closer than the third quarter.
Botkins sophomore guard Zane Paul nailed a 3 pointer and Botkins found themselves down by just one point with two minutes left in the second quarter. Anna junior guard Bart Bixler then got two baskets after being quiet most of the first 14 minutes.
Botkins then stalled in the final minute to try for a last-second shot but turned it over and trailed 34-29 at halftime.
The Rockets started to pull away in the third. Bixler converted two steals from Anna junior guard Riley Huelskamp into layups and Lininger then drilled a 3-pointer. After a couple of more turnovers by Botkins, Anna was quickly up 49-35.
Botkins sophomore guard Jayden Priddy — who has recently become eligible after sitting the first half of the season — made a shot at the start of the fourth, to cut Anna’s lead to 14. The Rockets then took off on a 9-0 run, which was capped by Lininger burying another 3 to boost the lead to 75-53.
Botkins senior forward Spencer Hueker scored 15 points and also had seven rebounds. He was 7 for 7 from the field.
“He just gives an all-out performance,” Botkins coach Sean Powell said. “Plays hard at both ends and is our go-to guy inside”
Paul also scored 15 points and Priddy finished with 11 in the game.
The Trojans had 24 turnovers while Anna had eight, and Powell said that differential was too much to overcome for the squad, with is made of mostly underclassmen.
Anna improved to 6-0 in the SCAL and 10-0 overall with the win and will face Division IV No. 1 ranked St. Henry on Monday.
Botkins drops 2-5 in the SCAL and 5-7 overall. The Trojans will play next on Tuesday at Lima Bath.