PIQUA — Botkins was voted the No. 1 seed in the Piqua Division IV sectional, and its first two tournament games ended with scores you’d expect from a top seed facing the sectional’s lowest seeds.
The victories didn’t come all that easily, though. The Trojans trailed at halftime before pulling away to beat Bradford by 18 points on Friday and followed with a similarly slow start on Tuesday in a Div. IV sectional final against Houston.
Botkins pulled away to beat Houston 70-28 at Piqua’s Garbry Gymnasium to advance to a district semifinal on Friday against Shelby County Athletic League rival Fort Loramie, which beat Ansonia 51-37 in Tuesday’s first sectional final.
Coach Sean Powell said the slow starts should serve as a wake-up call to the squad’s players: nothing comes easy in postseason play.
“In order to win a championship in this area, you’ve got to be on your best game,” Powell said. “… It’s going to be a tough game (on Friday).”
Botkins pulled out to a 16-3 lead by the end of the first quarter on Monday but the Wildcats rallied and closed the gap to three points midway through the second. The Trojans secured the win by scoring 23 unanswered points late in the second and early in the third.
“We were trying to move a little too quick there for a while, and our patience made the difference,” Powell said. “Being able to read the defense, getting a couple of ball reversals before we attacked …They did a better job of that in the second half than the first half, and as a result, we made more shots.”
Senior guard Jayden Priddy-Powell, who was recently named first team all-SCAL, scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter to help the Trojans pull away.
“He was patient in the pick and roll, read the defense and saw what they were giving him and took the open look,” Powell said.
“It’s going to be a tough one. Loramie’s going to come ready to play,” Powell said. “… That’s the quality of the Shelby County League. These boys have played 30, 40 games each other, and when they come together in the tournament, they play. It’s just like a backyard brawl. It’s driveway basketball.
“You can have a game plan, but when these young kids get on the floor, they’re just going to fight it out.”
Junior forward Jacob Pleiman, who was also a first team all-SCAL selection, added 19 points for Botkins. Jameson Meyer scored nine points on three 3-pointers. Zane Paul scored eight and Carter Pleiman scored eight.
Houston finishes 1-21 overall. The Wildcats will lose senior forward Brandon Pollock and senior guard Wyatt Kunk, who was an honorable mention all-SCAL selection, to graduation.
Kunk led the Wildcats with 10 points on Tuesday while Xaviar Balensiefer scored eight.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.