By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
Piqua appeared to have Bethel, the seventh-ranked D-IV team in the state, right where they wanted them after three quarters Tuesday night at Garbry Gymnasium.
As it turned out, it was just the opposite.
The Bees stepped up their defense in the final eight minutes and turned a 34-26 deficit into a 48-40 victory.
Bethel did it by switching to a man defense in the fourth quarter and holding Piqua scoreless until Dan Monnin’s basket with 1:20 to go — and by then the Bees had run off 15 straight points to take a 41-34 lead.
“It is tough when you have been seeing zone all game and then they get in your face with a man defense,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “We were kind of back on our heels.”
With the game tied at 34, Patrick Bain hit two free throws, Christian Pfledderer hit a big three and Jason Clendening added two free throws to make it 41-34 and Piqua never recovered.
“Bethel is a good team — they have been ranked in the state poll all season,” Butler said. “They had guys in positions where they could score and got good shots. And the other thing is when you are not seeing the ball go in on your end, your defense tends to drop off a little bit.”
In a first half that saw Bethel scorch the nets with 11 of 13 shooting from the floor, the Bees led just 22-21.
With Colton Bachman scoring eight points in the third quarter for Piqua, the Indians took control and led 34-26 going to the fourth quarter.
“We played good defense and we were getting good shots,” Butler said as Bethel dropped of to 2-for-13 in that quarter. “But, we couldn’t score in fourth quarter. I feel bad for the guys. They played hard.”
Bachman had 17 points and eight rebounds for Piqua, while Storm Cook added eight points.
Bain scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds for Bethel, while Pfledderer added 15 points.
Christian Hagen added nine points and six rebounds.
Piqua was 15 of 48 from the floor for 31 percent and seven of 11 from the line for 64 percent.
Bethel was 21 of 36 from the floor for 58 percent and five of 10 from the line for 50 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 21-19 and had 14 turnovers to Bethel’s 15.
The Piqua JVs won 40-21.
Nash Black and Brandon Hohlbein scored 10 points each.
The Indians will host Troy Friday and Tippecanoe Saturday to close the regular season.
Patrick Bain 8-2-18, Christian Pfledderer 7-0-15, Jason Clendening 1-2-4, Christian Hagen 4-1-9, Evan Hawthorne 1-0-2, Kurt Hamlin 0-0-0. Totals: 21-5-48.
Tate Honeycutt 1-1-4, Xavier Harrison 2-0-4, Storm Cook 3-0-8, Colton Bachman 6-5-17, Dan Monnin 2-0-4, Derrick Gullett 1-0-2, Ryan Neal 0-1-1, Erik Vondenhuevel 0-0-0. Totals: 15-7-40.
3-point field goals — Bethel: Pfledderer. Piqua: Honeycutt, Cook (2).
Score By Quarters
Bethel 10 22 26 48
Piqua 10 21 34 40
Records: Piqua 11-9, Bethel 15-3.
Reserve score: Piqua 40, Bethel 21.