By Rob Kiser
Miami Valley Today
VANDALIA — Piqua boys basketball coach Steve Grasso knew at some point, his team would find their way this season.
While lacking in varsity experience at the start of the season, they had had success at every level coming through the program.
That time may well have come — and you need no better evidence than Tuesday night’s Miami Valley League Miami Division win at Butler.
Piqua’s 60-57 road victory was the Indians’ fifth in six games after a 1-6 start — and it came against a Butler team that had beaten Piqua 71-43 on the Indians’ home floor to open the season. The Aviators were coming off an upset of Tippecanoe last Friday.
Piqua improved to 6-7 overall and 4-6 in MVL play, while Butler dropped to 5-6 overall and 5-5 in the MVL.
“This is not the same team,” Grasso said. “This was just a complete team effort.”
The boxscore bears that out — all seven Piqua players that saw the floor scored between five and 12 points and six of the seven had at least two assists.
And all made some kind of key play down the stretch.
“We are a family now and that’s how we play.” Devon Sever said.
Not, that the Indians were flawless in the closing moments.
Keagan Patton hit a big three midway through the fourth quarter after Butler had closed within two.
Jerell Lewis added a basket and Dre’Sean Roberts scored off a long pass from Garrett Schrubb to give the Indians a 51-42 lead with 2:28 remaining.
But, a couple quick possessions, two missed front end of one-and-ones and a foul one second after Lewis basket allowed the Aviators to get back in the game.
Quinton Hall and Tyler Montague hit clutch 3-pointers and suddenly Piqua was leading 53-52 with 1:10 remaining.
Patton had a putback to make it 55-52 with 5o seconds to go, but Cooper Justice quickly answered for the Aviators.
That left the score at 55-54 when Patton was fouled with 30.3 seconds to go.
His first free throw was dead center and his second dropped through after bouncing high off the rim to make it 57-54.
“I was having a good game,” Patton said. “So, I felt like I was going to make them.”
Grasso was not surprised.
“Keagan (Paaton) hit some big shots and hit the two big free throws,” Grasso said.
But, Montague would drain and NBA 3-pointer to tie the game at 57 with 15 seconds to go.
Iverson Ventura made one of two free throws with 8.2 seconds to go to put Piqua up 58-57, but Butler was fouled on the rebound with 6.6 seconds to go.
The Aviators, who were just 6-for-16 from the line for the game, missed both attempts.
Butler had 11 offensive rebounds in the game, but Schrubb pulled the rebound down and got the ball to Sever, who was fouled with 3.8 seconds to go.
“I just knew I had to make them,” Sever said.
He did exactly that and Butler’s desperation shot from beyond midcourt was off the mark, giving Piqua a 60-57 win,
“Garrett (Schrubb) had a big rebound,” Grasso said. “Keagan (Patton) had a big offensive one earlier (on the stickback). Kameron Darner is and 82 percent free throw shooter. He missed the front end of two one-and-ones, but he redeemed himself by making two straight after that. We made seven of eight from the line down the stretch.”
Ventura hit two 3-pointers in the opening quarter and Darner hit one as Piqua took a 19-18 lead.
Two baskets by Jerell Lewis and a three by Patton helped Piqua extend the lead to 33-27 at halftime.
“I told them at halftime, the third quarter was going to be important,” Grasso said.
Piqua struggled early in the quarter and when Montague hit a 3-pointer, Butler led 35-33.
Roberts immediately answered with a 3-pointer of his own and baskets by Schrubb and Roberts to close the quarter gave Piqua a 41-37 lead going to the fourth quarter — and the Indians battled their way to a victory from there.
” Butler took the lead there in the third quarter and then Dre’Sean (Roberts) hit the big shot,” Grasso said. “We just kept answering and it was a battle to the end and I told them it would be.”
Patton led the Indians with 12 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots and Roberts added 10 points and three assists.
Darner, Sever and Ventura all scored nine points, Schrubb netted six and Lewis added five.
Schrubb had nine reboounds and three steals and Ventura dished out three assists.
Quincy Rackley kept Butler in the game in the first half with 13 points and led the Aviators with 15 points, while Justice scored 13 and Montague added 11.
Justice had seven rebounds and Matthew Beverly pulled down five, while Montague dished out four assists and Rackley had three steals.
Piqua was 22 of 41 from the floor for 54 percent, including six of 14 from 3-point range for 43 percent. The Indians were 10 of 18 from the line for 56 percent.
Along with its free throw shooting, Butler was 21 of 57 from the floor for 37 percent, including nine of 26 from long range for 35 percent.
Piqua won the battle of the boards 28-24 and had 16 turnovers to Butler’s 15.
“We felt like coming into this game, we had a good chance to win if we played well,” Grasso said.
Because, as they made clear, this is not the same Indians team that started the season — and they will need that kind of effort again Friday when they travel to MVL Valley leader Sidney for another big road test.
Contact Rob Kiser at [email protected].
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