Call Sports Editor
DAYTON — It was by no means a flawless performance.
Which was even better the way Piqua boys basketball coach Heath Butler saw it.
A scrappy Stebbins boys basketball team hung right with Piqua for three quarters, before the Indians pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 64-55 victory.
“It wasn’t perfect by any means,” Butler said. “There are a lot of things we can do better. But, that is what makes it so satisfying. We were on the road, we didn’t play our best basketball and we are going home 3-1. And you have to give Stebbins a lot of credit. They play hard and we didn’t have an answer (Ja’Quan) Dangerfield in the first half.”
And at the most critical time, Piqua was able to step up and make the plays.
The Indians had an opportunity not afforded them in their first three games — with Stebbins having just one player taller than 6-2 — and was able to pound the ball inside, particularly to 6-6 junior Erik Vondenhuevel and 6-1 senior Dan Monnin throughout the game.
After Stebbins had closed to within 50-46 with 4:56 remaining, the Piqua guards got the ball to Vondenhuevel inside for consecutive baskets — he would finish with 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the Indians — and senior Conner Forror drilled his third three from the corner to make it 57-46 with 3:08 remaining and all but seal the win.
“That is how good we can be when we execute,” Butler said. “Erik (Vondenhuevel) was able to take advantage of the matchup — I said at the beginning of the year we had versatile team that could adjust to our opponents — and Conner Forror hit some big shots tonight.”
The two teams had battled evenly throughout the game.
While it was never a big deficit, Piqua trailed much of the first half, but went to the locker room in front 31-30 after another Forror three.
A three by Monnin and a basket by Storm Cook opened the gap to 44-36 with 3:00 to go in the third quarter, but Stebbins answered with six straight points to close the quarter.
Isaiah Fancher had four of them, including a steal and layup at the third quarter buzzer.
“We never got to far down,” Butler said. “We didn’t panic and we played our game.”
The Indians opened the fourth quarter with another three by Forror and a basket by Cook to make it 49-42 and Stebbins could never get closer than four.
“It was a total team effort,” Butler said. “Ryan Neal came in and did nice job off the bench tonight — we did a much better job on the boards — Derrick Gullett came in the second half and did a pretty good job on the (Ja’Quan) Dangerfield kid.”
Monnin added 11 points to Piqua’s balanced attack.
Xavier Harrison, Colton Bachman and Forror had nine and Cook added eight.
Bachman also pulled down eight rebounds.
Dangerfield had 15 points for Stebbins and Fancher added 13.
G’Jailen Leake and Malik Thurman combined for 13 rebounds.
Piqua was 24 of 43 from the floor for 56 percent and 10 of 15 from the line for 67 percent.
Stebbins was 22 of 50 from the floor for 44 percent and 10 of 19 from the line for 53 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 32-18, but had 14 turnovers to Stebbins’ six.
“We definitely have things we need to work on,” Butler said. “But, this shows us how good we can be when we play well.”
And the Indians will look to continue that satisfying feeling Friday at Sidney.
The Piqua JVs lost 35-34.
Bradley Hohlbein led Piqua with 14 points.
Tate Honeycutt 0-0-0, Xavier Harrison 2-4-9, Erik Vondenhuevel 6-4-16, Colton Bachman 3-2-9, Dan Monnin 5-0-11, Storm Cook 4-0-8, Ryan Neal 1-0-2, Conner Forror 3-0-9, Derrick Gullett 0-0-0. Totals: 24-10-64.
Michael Schuster 1-0-2, Isaiah Fancher 6-1-13, Ja’Quan Dangerfield 5-5-15, Malik Thurman 5-2-12, G’Jailen Leak 2-1-5, Michael Collins 1-0-3, Cody Gordon 0-0-0, Michael Pickel 2-0-4, Michael Mills 0-1-1. Totals: 22-10-55.
3-point field goals — Piqua: Harrison, Bachman, Monnin, Forror (3). Stebbins: Collins.
Score By Quarters
Piqua 12 31 44 64
Stebbins 14 30 42 55
Records: Piqua 3-1, Stebbins 2-4.
Reserve score: Stebbins 35, Piqua 34.