By Rob Kiser
The Piqua boys basketball team wants to continue to get better.
And Indians coach Heath Butler looks to ride the momentum from last weekend Friday night when the Indians, 8-6 overall and 2-2 in the GWOC North, host Troy, 4-9 and 1-3, at Garbry Gymnasium.
“Even though we lost to Marion Catholic (Ill.), I felt like we put together two of our best games back-to-back last weekend,” Butler said. “Hopefully, we can continue that.”
Butler knows the Troy game is always a big game.
“There is always a lot of emotion at the start of the game and you have to be able to handle that,” Butler said. “It is a big game with a lot of emotion from both teams.”
Troy is a led by 5-foot-7 senior Romello Yaquib, who averages 16.0 points per game.
Austin Persinger, a 6-4 senior, averages 8.3 points, while 6-foot junior Ryan McClurg and 6-8 senior Mechia Linton both score more than seven.
“They have a number of guys that can score,” Butler said about Troy. “Coach (Paul) Bremigan has done a really nice job there, making changes he wants to make. They have lost a number of close games.”
Piqua counters with one of the GWOC’s leading scorers in 6-4 senior Colton Bachman, who averages 22.1 points per game.
Nate Monnin, a 6-3 junior, averages 12,2 points, is second in the GWOC with 9.4 rebounds per game and is fifth in the GWOC in blocks with 1.8 a game.
Bradley Hohlbein, a 6-3 senior, adds 11.6 points per game.
“We want to protect the home court and finish the first round (of the GWOC North) at 3-2,” Butler said. “You can’t say that (that you need to win every game in the North), but the kids understand that. We just have to focus on winning that next game.”
Piqua will face a road challenge Tuesday, going to Northmont.
The T-Bolts are 8-5 and own a home victory over Centerville recently.
“They are a very athletic team,” Butler said. “On any given night, they feel like they can beat anybody, but we kind feel the same way.”
Jason Biggs, a 6-4 senior, averages 18.7 points and 5.3 rebounds, while 6-6 senior Jerrell Taylor averages 12.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
“They are really balanced scoring,” Butler said. “They have two guys scoring in double figures, but they also have a number of guys averaging around 6, 7 points per game. They used a lot of players and they are all pretty much the same, 6-3, long and athletic.”
They can also create problems at the defensive end.
“We are going to have to be ready to handle both man and zone pressure,” Butler said. “Playing on the road on Tuesday after an emotional game Friday can be a tough thing. It is easy to letdown. We have to be ready to play.”
And continue to get better as a team.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.