BLANCHESTER – In 13 games this season against opponents other than Blanchester, Clermont Northeastern has just one victory.
Tuesday night, the Rockets defeated the Wildcats for the second time this season. CNE won 64-54 at Blanchester High School.
“I feel like (CNE) dominated the glass,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said. “I thought we never really reached our normal demeanor. I don’t really have an answer for that.”
It was a brutal night for the Wildcats, which started with Blanchester making 2 of its first 15 shots. Despite struggling from the floor in the first half, Blanchester only trailed 25-20 at halftime.
“Coming down the stretch and you’ve got things you’re playing for, I guess there are nights where the other team is trying to knock you off your pedestal,” Weber said. “I think Clermont Northeastern did a good job dictating the play too much, too early.”
The Wildcats appeared to get in rhythm in the third quarter. A 10-2 run midway through the third put Blanchester ahead 38-31 with 1:10 remaining in the third.
Clermont Northeastern didn’t fade. Instead, it blasted off.
A 19-4 run over 6:42 gave CNE a 50-42 lead with 2:40 remaining.
“Give them credit … they didn’t quit, and I think we got complacent,” Weber said. “They beat us to too many desire-type plays. The desire mindset never really set in.”
Blanchester (8-4, 4-2 in SBC) tried to mount a final charge. A Nick Grogg three, a Harbor Lovin free throw and a Dylan Miller basket pulled Blanchester within four, 57-53, with 1:01 remaining.
In the end, the Rockets closed the game at the free throw line. Clermont Northeastern made 18 of 21 from the line in the fourth quarter.
This included 7 of 8 from Nick Ernst, who saves his best for his showdowns with the Wildcats. After dropping 29 on the ‘Cats earlier this year, he led all scorers Tuesday with 26.
“We got away from what we teach,” Weber said. “We fouled (Ernst), way too often. We left our feet and fouled guys right at the rim where they were able to score.”
Miller led the Wildcats with 21 including 10 in the fourth quarter. Jordan Stroud added 12.
Blanchester struggled from beyond the arc, making just 3 of 22 from three-point range. Overall, Blanchester shot just 31.5 percent.
“The biggest thing offensively is, everyone thinks we didn’t shoot well,” Weber said. “We didn’t shoot well because we weren’t doing what we were taught. When we were driving to the hoop, we were throwing up shots.”
The Wildcats’ loss, combined with wins by Williamsburg and Bethel-Tate, leaves all three teams tied for the top spot in the National Division at 4-2. Blanchester hosts Williamsburg Friday on homecoming night.
“Williamsburg is going to be a war,” Weber said. “Bethel-Tate is going to be a war. We just talked about … it’s still in our control, but the focus and mindset like (this game) will not get it done.”
Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016
@ Blanchester High School
Clermont Northeastern 64, Blanchester 54
(64) CLERMONT NORTHEASTERN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Jimmy Camacho 1-1-0-3, Jessie Blevins 1-0-0-2, Dylan Jones 2-1-0-5, David Smith 3-0-3-9, Nick Ernst 8-3-7-26, Logan Fishback 1-0-0-2, Chris Coleman 4-0-8-16, Grant Fishback 0-0-1-1. TOTALS 20-5-19-64.
(54) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Alec Richardson 2-0-4-8, Nick Hopkins 2-0-0-4, Dylan Miller 6-2-7-21, Harbor Lovin 1-0-2-4, Jordan Stroud 4-0-4-12, Nick Grogg 1-1-0-3, JD Wiederhold 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 17-3-17-54.
FIELD GOALS: C 20/57 (Ernst 8/21, Coleman 4/6, Smith 3/6); B 17/54 (Miller 6/14, Stroud 4/12)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: C 5/14 (Ernst 3/8); B 3/22 (Miller 2/5)
FREE THROWS: C 19/28 (Coleman 8/12, Ernst 7/8, Smith 3/3); B 17/25 (Miller 7/10, Stroud 4/6, Richardson 4/5)
TURNOVERS: C 12; B 16
Matt covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @mattsports.