OWENSVILLE – Clermont Northeastern was spot-on from the free throw line down the stretch Friday and the Rockets held off Blanchester 51-39 in SBAAC National Division boys basketball action in the CNE gym.
The loss leaves the Wildcats at 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the National. Clermont Northeastern is 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the division.
CNE freshman Skyler Schmidt led all scorers with 25 points.
Brayden Sipple, Blanchester’s first-year standout, had 12 points. He had eight in the first but failed to score in the fourth quarter. Jordan Stroud added 11 but did not score in the second and third quarters.
Wesley Mitchell had six points and Jacob Fischer finished with four. Nevan Coyle, Lane Heeg and Brant Bandow had two points each for Blanchester.
Blanchester’s defense was effective in the opening period. Coyle and Sipple were key trappers for the Wildcats in the full-court press. Coyle had a steal and assist to Sipple to give BHS a 6-4 lead.
Mitchell and Sipple had second-chance baskets for Blanchester, Sipple’s giving BHS a 16-12 advantage.
That hoop came moments after Stroud had a sweet bounce pass to a breaking Sipple who converted to break a 10-10 tie.
In the second, Blanchester had opportunities to pull away from Clermont NE. Sipple had a stickback then BHS forced a turnover but couldn’t cash in. The Rockets seized the lead for the first time with around 6:00 showing on the Coca-Cola scoreboard clock.
Bandow took a change with the ‘Cats, down 19-18, but the blue and white seemed to draw little inspiration from it. The lead changed hands several times over the next few minutes. Stroud had a nifty no-look pass to Fischer then Fischer scored two on a baby hook with the left hand, 22-21 BHS.
With the ‘Cats facing 1 24-22 deficit, Heeg sent the teams to the lockerroom tied at 24-24 when he scored with 15 seconds left in the half. Sipple and Coyle again teamed to force a CNE miscue but Blanchester was not able to get a shot off in the final seconds of the half.
The Rockets quickly took the lead in the third, with Grant Fishback draining a three on the first possession. Shortly thereafter (7:02 to go) Stroud went to the bench with three fouls.
Brant Bandow had a solid third with an assist and two steals for the Wildcats. The assist led to a Coyle elbow jumper but the steals both came up empty on the offensive end. In fact, both teams were sluggish with the ball in the third, scoring a combined 12 points.
In the fourth, the BHS offensive struggles continued. Stroud dropped in an off-balance leaner in the lane to bring the Wildcats with 39-37 with 3:35 left in the fourth. Blanchester scored just two points over the next 2:02.
Meanwhile, the Rockets were building their lead at the free throw line. In the final 2:12, Clermont Northeastern hit on 10 of its 12 from the stripe to push the difference to double digits.
December 15 2017
@Clermont Northeastern HS
Clermont NE 51 Blanchester 39
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports
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