LEES CREEK — A 13-1 run, including a 70-foot basket by Bryce Sipple at the third quarter buzzer, propelled Blanchester to a 55-46 win over East Clinton.
Blanchester (2-14 overall, 2-8) broke a nine-game losing streak with the win. East Clinton (3-10, 0-7) lost its 10th straight.
East Clinton surged to a 30-29 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter. However, the Astros wouldn’t make another field goal for 5:20.
The Wildcats finished the third quarter with the final nine points. After Seth Akers made a three and Bryce Sipple converted a three-point play, the ball was knocked out of bounds under the EC basket with less than two seconds remaining in the third.
The inbounds pass was rolled to Sipple, who picked it up short of the free throw line at the other end of the floor and heaved it 70 feet into the basket. Blanchester led 38-30 after three.
“That was, by far, the longest three of the season,” said BHS head coach Adam Weber. “It helped cap off a steady quarter and really pushed us toward the win.”
Akers scored Blanchester’s first four points of the fourth to push the Wildcat lead to 42-31 with 5:18 left. Jared Smith broke the EC field goal drought with 4:55 remaining to pull the Astros within nine.
“It was back-and-forth so often the whole time, I really didn’t think anyone was able to grab that momentum,” said EC head coach Phil Shori. “They got the momentum, and it stuck there.”
EC would get within five with 2:54 left using a half-court trap to slow down the Blanchester offense.
“Our 1-3-1, we haven’t practiced that in a while,” Shori said. “I was impressed with it. The kids said they were ready for it, they understood their assignments, and they made some plays. At the end of the day, you can’t shoot 2 of 17 from three.”
But the Astros got no closer, mainly because of struggles from the outside. EC made just one of its first 16 from three-point range before Matej Jostak made one in the final seconds.
Sipple led BHS with 19 points and five rebounds. Akers added 15 points.
“Akers was clutch for us down the stretch,” Weber said. “He had some critical buckets.”
Smith led EC with 20 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three assists. Matej Jostak added 19 points and six rebounds.
Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022
At East Clinton High School
Blanchester 55, East Clinton 46
(55) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Bryce Sipple 5-1-8-19, Brison Lucas 3-2-4-12, Seth Akers 6-2-1-15, Jacob Haun 0-0-1-1, Dylan Creager 1-0-0-2, Gabe McVey 1-1-3-6. TOTALS 16-6-17-55.
(46) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Braxton Harrison 1-0-0-2, Isaiah Curtis 0-0-1-1, Jared Smith 8-1-3-20, Landon Runyon 0-0-2-2, Matej Jostak 7-1-4-19, Justin Arnold 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 17-2-10-46.
FIELD GOALS: B 16/38 (Akers 6/8, Sipple 5/9, Lucas 3/11); EC 17/45 (Smith 8/12, Jostak 7/19)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: B 6/14 (Lucas 2/6, Akers 2/3); EC 2/17
FREE THROWS: B 17/31 (Sipple 8/13, Lucas 4/8); EC 10/15 (Jostak 4/6, Smith 3/5)
REBOUNDS: B 36 (McVey 9, Hogsett 8, Sipple 5, Akers 4); EC 24 (Smith 7, Jostak 6)
ASSISTS: B 6; EC 8 (Smith 3, Harrison 3)
STEALS: B 3; EC 9 (Smith 5, Harrison 3)
BLOCKED SHOTS: B 1 (Sipple 1); EC 1 (Smith 1)
TURNOVERS: B 14; EC 10
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.