By Rob Kiser
It may have seemed at the time to be the worst possible thing to have happen.
In reality, it was the best.
The Piqua boys basketball team had just seen a nine-point lead with Elida evaporate in less than two minutes late in the third quarter.
But, this time, the Indians weren’t going to be denied.
Gage Smith hit a three to give the Indians a 31-28 lead going to the fourth quarter and Caleb Patton opened the fourth quarter with another three to make it 34-28 and Piqua never trailed again.
While it was a battle to the end, Piqua held on for a 45-38 win.
The Indians improved to 6-14, while Elida dropped to 12-6.
“We have been in a number of close games,” Piqua coach Heath Butler. “This time we were able to finish. Gage (Smith) and Caleb (Patton) both knocked down some big shots.”
Hayden Schrubb had given Piqua a 38-35 lead with 2:15 to play on a drive to the basket — as the junior continues to expand his game.
“I think you are seeing his untapped potential,” Butler said. “Yes, you would always like it to happen earlier. But, he is continuing to develop. He is just another blue-collar Piqua player.”
Schrubb said he simply took what was there.
“They are coming out to cover our shooters,” he said. “So, that gave me an opportunity.”
But, Daniel Unruh stole the ball on Piqua’s next possession and hit a three to tie the game at 38 with 1:42 remaining
Then, came what would be a pivotal possession for Piqua.
Schrubb was fouled with 1:16 to go and made the first of two free throws to make it 39-38.
Schmiesing got the rebound after a miss on the second and was fouled with 1:13 to go — but missed both free throws.
Monnin got that rebound, missed, got the ball back and scored to make it 41-38 with 1:10 to go.
“It was just an adrenaline rush at that point,” Monnin said.
After two empty possessions for Elida and one for Piqua, the Indians got the ball back with 26 seconds to go.
After several passes, Schmiesing spotted Monnin opened under the basket and he scored to make it 43-38. He would finish off the win with two free throws.
“That is just working your butt off,” Butler said about the offensive rebounds. “They were just really working hard and we got a big win.”
Piqua had fallen behind 11-5 after one quarter, but took an 18-16 halftime lead after another drive to the basket by Schrubb.
Schmiesing then scored 10 -points in the third quarter — eight straight at one point — to take a 20-19 lead to 28-19, before Elida rallied to set up the big fourth quarter.
“Ben (Schmiesing) has done a great job of taking the leadership role on this team and the other guys have followed,” Butler said. “This is a big win over a team that has 12 wins and is probably going to win a couple tournament games.”
Piqua was coming off playing Sidney tough for four quarters Friday night.
“We are looking to continue to play well,” Schrubb said. “We will find out the tournament draw — and we will be ready for whatever comes our way.”
“We have what we feel are two winnable games next week,” Butler said. “This was a great way to end a good weekend.”
Schmiesing had 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Monnin added 12 points and 10 rebounds as both recorded double-doubles.
Unruh had 17 points and six rebounds to pace the Bulldogs.
Piqua was 17 of 41 from the floor for 41 percent and six of 14 from the line for 43 percent.
Elida was 14 of 44 from the floor for 32 percent and five of eight from the line for 63 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 35-27 and had nine turnovers to Elida’s six.
The Indians will look to continue the momentum with a road game with Greenville Tuesday, before the home finale with Troy Friday.
“I think it is (finishing in the fourth quarter a good way to win),” Monnin said. “But honestly, it feels good anytime you win.”
And this time, the Indians weren’t going to be denied.
Trey Harris 1-0-2, Donte Johnson 2-1-6, Baylen Stinson 1-1-3, Skyler Smith 1-0-2, Daniel Unruh 6-2-17, Peyton Smith 0-0-0, Calon Henderson 2-1-6, Isaac McAdams 1-0-2, Trey Roberts 0-0-0. Totals: 14-5-38.
Caleb Patton 1-0-3, Hayden Schrubb 3-1-7, Gage Smith 2-0-6, Nate Monnin 5-2-12, Ben Schmiesing 6-3-17, Cory Cottrell 0-0-0, Nick Rigola 0-0-0, Xion Harrison 0-0-0. Totals: 17-6-45.
3-point field goals — Elida: Johnson, Unruh (3), Henderson. Piqua: Patton, Smith (2), Schmiesing (2).
Score By Quarters
Elida 11 16 28 38
Piqua 5 18 31 45
Records: Elida 12-6, Piqua 6-14.