By Rob Kiser
Miami Valley Today
PIQUA — The Piqua boys basketball had been up to the challenge in its last two games with 14-1 Sidney and 12-4 Miamisburg — losing by single digits on the road.
But, coming home to face Miami Valley League Miami Division Leader Tippecanoe Friday night at Garbry Gymnasium was a whole different challenge.
And one the Indians weren’t up to.
Tipp showed why they are the MVL Miami Leaders from the start, cruising to a 71-45 win over the Indians.
“Their length is something the last couple teams we play didn’t have,” Piqua coach Steve Grasso said.
The Red Devils maintained their one-game game lead, improving to 9-6 overall and 8-3 in MVL play, while Piqua dropped to 6-10 overall and 4-8 in MVL play.
And Tippecanoe did it by lighting it up from 3-point range in the early going, jumping out to an 18-4 lead and never looking back.
And the Red Devils length was a big part of that.
Tippecanoe was 6-for-8 on 3-pointers in the opening quarter, accounting for 18 of its 21 points as it opened a 21-7 lead.
Six-foot-4 Zach Frederick hit three 3-pointers in the opening quarter, 6-foot Gavin Garlitz hit two and 6-3 Ben Knostman added one.
“We were on fire,” Tippecanoe coach Adam Toohey, whose team has made 31 3-pointers in the last three games, said. “It is nice to have guys 6-4, 6-3 who can shoot the ball out there. Zach (Frederick) made his first four I think. There were a couple times he pulled the ball down and I told him to shoot.
“We have some nights where we shot it like this — and then we have had some nights where we were 2-for-16. It is important to remember these nights when you have those nights. When you shoot with confidence and the shots are going in, it becomes contagious.”
Frederick and Knostman added one three each in the second quarter — as Tippecanoe finished with 11 for the game.
The Red Devils led 34-16 at halftime and 52-29 after three quarters.
Tippecanoe’s length was also a difficult matchup for Piqua at the offensive end for most of the night.
“It is a tough matchup for us,” Grasso said. “We are basically a zone (defense) team, so we knew that was going to be a problem for us. We switched to man in the second half.”
Frederick would finish with 21 points and five rebounds.
Garlitz had 14 points and Knostman had 11 points and eight rebounds.
The scary part for Tipp is the Red Devils may still be getting better.
Nolan Mader, who missed the first two months of the season, had eight rebounds.
“This was Nolan’s (Mader) best game,” Toohey said. “He is still working his way in. It is kind of tough to miss the first two months and all of a sudden you are in there just like that.”
Cole Coppock added 10 points off the bench, while Nick Robbins grabbed five rebounds.
“I love the energy our bench brings when they come in there,” Toohey said.
Piqua battled to the end, against the odds.
Dre’Sean Roberts scored nine of his 14 points in the final quarter.
Iverson Ventura had eight points and eight rebounds and Devon Sever scored eight points.
“The kids played hard,” Grasso said. “This is a tough stretch. I am really proud of the kids effort. Like they say, sometimes you just have to bury the tape and go on to the next game.”
Tippecanoe was 28 of 52 from the floor for 54 percent and four of 11 from the line for 36 percent.
Piqua was 16 of 49 from the floor for 33 percent and eight of 17 from the line for 47 percent.
Tipp won the battle of the boards 40-24 and had 13 turnovers to Piqua’s 10.
Contact Rob Kiser at [email protected].
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