GOSHEN — A 14-5 second-half run gave Blanchester the scoreboard separation it needed Saturday night, as the Wildcats held off Goshen 79-68.
Blanchester (5-0) led by just one, 51-50, with 4:42 left in the third. Over the next 5:01, Blanchester got six points from Brayden Sipple, and four each from Jay Ashcraft and Tanner Creager to finally put some distance between itself and the Warriors.
“It got to be a possession-by-possession game,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said. “Bottom line is, we made two or three straight plays then we got two or three stops and huge rebounds. We had a hard time securing rebounds early in the game. In the third quarter, we got rebounds. I thought that was the difference.”
Blanchester led 65-55 just 19 seconds into the fourth. Bradley Moore hit one of Goshen’s 13 three-point field goals to cut the Blan lead to eight with 7:10 remaining.
Creager answered again with a pair of free throws and another field goal, pushing the lead to 11.
Goshen (3-2) only got as close as eight the rest of the way. They couldn’t get closer because they had a hard time getting the ball on the offensive end.
Leading by nine with 4:04 left, Weber told his team, “Move the ball, we don’t need to score.”
Outside of one short possession by Goshen, Blanchester would kill the next 90 seconds off the clock without a shot. The Wildcats played keep-away and iced the game at the line.
“Not to discredit teams in the past, but a lot of these guys were with us last year and we lost a few games because we couldn’t manage the clock late in the game,” Weber said. “The only thing I said to them after the game was that we matured, and I feel better about that type of situation.”
It was a balanced offensive effort for the Wildcats. Sipple led the way with 29 points. Creager added 22. Hunter Bare had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Ashcraft had eight points.
“The offensive production by all five or six players this year — it’s been big numbers by Sipple, but almost every score we’ve put up has been in or near the 80s,” Weber said. “That means even if he had 40, we still have three other guys putting in double digits.
“Tanner Creager had a huge couple of plays, then a couple of stick-backs by Hunter (Bare). When you throw one down as hard as he did, that kind of gives you a little bit of confidence.”
Josh Hice led the Warriors with 21, including five three-point field goals.
With Blanchester’s first non-conference test passed, the team’s attention turns to Clermont Northeastern on Tuesday night. The Rockets, also 5-0, host the Wildcats.
“This win was pivotal moving into Tuesday,” Weber said. “Now we’ve got two days to prep for CNE, but we have back-to-back wins against very physical and very aggressive teams. It’s a hard place to play, and they have a nice group too.
“This is where the conference comes to a peak.”
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019
At Goshen High School
Blanchester 79, Goshen 68
(79) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Braden Roy 2-0-0-4, Tanner Creager 8-4-2-22, Brayden Sipple 8-1-12-29, Jay Ashcraft 3-0-2-8, Hunter Bare 7-0-2-16. TOTALS 28-5-18-79.
(68) GOSHEN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Dylan Ashcraft 3-2-0-8, Hunter Slusher 3-1-0-7, Josh Hice 8-5-0-21, Jack Webster 5-1-1-12, Bradley Moore 3-3-0-9, Ashton Harris 3-1-2-9, Trevor Adams 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 26-13-3-68.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.