By Rob Kiser
Not since Marcus Bixler’s first-year as coach in the 2006-07 season have the Piqua boys basketball program experienced success in the postseason.
The Indians are looking to end a nine-game losing streak in sectional tournament action Saturday night, when the 12-10 Indians play 4-18 Beavercreek at 6:30 p.m. at Trotwood-Madison High School.
“It would be great to a get a tournament win — not for me — but for the players,” Butler said. “They have worked really hard to accomplish what we have — three straight winning seasons. We had three guys honored on the All-GWOC North team. You would just like to see them rewarded for their hard work, especially the seniors.”
Butler has no illusions of anything coming easy against the Beavers.
Beavercreek, playing in the loaded GWOC Central, has lost seven games by less than 10 points — including Wednesday’s 55-46 loss to a strong Springfield team.
Half of the Beavers wins this season have come against GWOC North teams — Troy and Vandalia-Butler.
“They play in a really strong division,” Butler said. “That is why we have made a point of not looking at their record, but what they do on the floor. They are really solid. There are not going to be a lot of highs, but there are not going to be a lot of lows.”
Beavercreek is led on the stat sheet by 6-6 sophomore Jon Allesandro, who averages 11.4 points and 7.4 rebounds.
“I would describe him as a little taller Colton Bachman when he was a sophomore,” Butler said, referring to Piqua’s leading scorer.
But, he is hardly their only weapon.
Jackson Back, a 6-foot senior, averages 10.1 points per game, while 6-3 junior Cedric Baldwin averages 8.8.
“Jackson Back is their leader,” Butler said. “He wears his emotions on his sleeve and is a guy they rally around. Number 30 (6-5 senior Jackson Hansen) also does a nice job on the boards. Number 14 (Jordan Williams, 6-0 sophomore) and 34 (Caden Grimm, 5-11 junior) do a nice job at the guard spots and they just got Jackson Tedder (6-0, senior) who is probably their best shooter, back from injury. So, they are full go.”
Bachman, a 6-3 senior, finished as the second leading scorer in the GWOC at 22.0 points per game, while 6-2 senior Nate Hohlbein averages 11.6.
Nate Monnin, a 6-3 junior, leads the GWOC with 10.7 rebounds, while scoring 11.3 points per game. He is also fifth in blocks at 1.8 and dishes 3.5 assists per game.
The Indians will be looking to shake off a tough shooting week.
“I think we fell in love with the 3-point shot against Troy — not that those are bad shots,” Butler said. “When those shots are not going, we need find a way to create shots inside — whether it is hitting a cutter or getting the ball to Nate (Monnin).”
Rebounding will be another key element Saturday.
“We talked about crashing the boards,” Butler said. “When you are missing 3-point shots, there are a lot of long rebounds.”
And staying sound at both ends of the floor.
“We need to execute and be solid with the fundamentals against Beavercreek,” Butler said.
Piqua is familiar with the floor.
Not only do they play the Rams there, they lost a heartbreaker to Tecumseh in the tournament a year ago on a last second shot.
“We had some success there last year,” Butler said. “It is not like going to (Vandalia) Butler, where you felt like you were going to have a bad shooting night.”
Instead, the Indians will look to shoot down a lot of bad postseason memories.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.