By Rob Kiser
DAYTON — There was nothing perfect about the Piqua boys basketball team’s 60-53 win over Stebbins Friday night.
Which is what made it perfect for Piqua boys basketball coach Heath Butler.
“This was a perfect start to the season for us,” Butler said after watching his team go to 2-0. “Last night (Friday) against Springboro was pretty much flawless. Tonight, we had to work hard for the win. It is always good when you get a win and have something to work on.”
And when the game was on the line, Piqua made the plays they had to down the stretch for the win.
Bradley Hohlbein had an assist to Nash Black for a 3-point play to put Piqua up 47-46 with 4:13 to play.
After Michael Pickel answered for Stebbins, Hohlbein drilled a three to put Piqua up 50-48.
A steal by Derrick Gullett with 2:24 to play led to two free throws by Colton Bachman to make it 52-48.
After Michael Schuster hit his fifth three of the game to get the home Indians within 52-51 with 1:55 to go, Bachman answered with one of two free throws.
Nate Monnin scored off a Hohlbein assist and Hohlbein hit four straight free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
“Bradley Hohlbein made some big plays at the end and was clutch tonight,” Piqua coach Heath Butler said. “I remember a few years ago, Bradley might have not had that confidence and now he does. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Hohlbein said it is simple.
“I have a lot of confidence and I know my teammates have my back,” he said. “We all have each others back. It was good (to have a close game). It is always good to be pushed.”
Hohlbein’s confidence showed on the free throws in the final minute.
“I have a lot of confidence in my free throws,” he said. “I shoot them all the time in practice.”
Stebbins 1-2-2 zone gave Piqua problems throughout the game — something Butler says will be addressed.
“We have worked a lot on zone (offense), mainly because we shoot the three so well,” Butler said. “And we got some good looks inside tonight that we normally knock down and we missed tonight.”
Even though Piqua jumped out to a 17-7 lead, the host Indians hung around.
Schuster hit three triples in the second quarter as Piqua led just 26-23 at halftime and 39-36 after three quarters.
“We lost their shooter (Michael Schuster) a couple times in the second quarter and he hit three threes,” Butler said.
Bachman made big shots to keep Piqua in front most of the game, finishing with 29 points and four 3-pointers.
“Colton (Bachman) hit a lot of big shots tonight,” Butler said.
Hohlbein scored seven of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Piqua put the game away.
Monnin added eight points and 12 rebounds, while CJ Davis grabbed seven rebounds.
Schuster led Stebbins with 17 points, while Mark Akridge had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Michael Pickel had 10 points and seven rebounds, while Jonathan Mpanzu grabbed 10 rebounds.
Piqua was 19 of 48 from the floor for 40 percent and 13 of 21 from the line for 62 percent.
Stebbins was 20 of 59 from the floor for 34 percent and five of seven from the line for 71 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 34-31, but had 13 turnovers to Stebbins six.
Justin Hemm picked up his first win as JV coach as Piqua rallied for a 41-37 victory.
The Indians, 2-0, will host Wapakoneta Tuesday.
“It is always good to have something to work on Monday,” Butler said.
Which made Piqua’s weekend “perfect”.
Bradley Hohlbein 3-4-13, Derrick Gullett 0-0-0, CJ Davis 1-0-2, Colton Bachman 9-7-29, Nate Monnin 3-1-8, Nash Black 2-1-5, Brady Hill 1-0-3, Ben Schmiesing 0-0-0. Totals: 19-13-60.
Mark Akridge 4-0-10, Michael Schuster 6-0-17, Michael Pickel 3-3-9, Jonathan Mpanzu 1-2-4, Kameron Marshall 2-0-5, Chris Davis 2-0-4, Tyheed Miller 1-0-2, Mark Perkins 1-0-2, Darquey Hart 0-0-0, Jeremy Wells 0-0-0. Totals: 20-5-53.
3-point field goals — Piqua: Hohlbein (3), Bachman (4), Monnin, Hill. Stebbins: Akridge (2), Schuster (5), Marshall.
Score By Quarters
Piqua 17 26 39 60
Stebbins 10 23 36 53
Records: Piqua 2-0, Stebbins 1-3.
Reserve score: Piqua 41, Stebbins 37.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.