The SBAAC National Division showdown Tuesday between Blanchester and Clermont Northeastern lost a bit of its luster Friday night.
Both teams won their games but the Rockets lost their 6-7 powerplant in the middle because of an ejection.
Skyler Schmidt, who had 26 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocked shots in the first meeting with BHS, will miss Tuesday’s game and the next CNE game because he was ejected in Friday night’s win over East Clinton.
The Rockets lead the National Division with a 9-0 record. Blanchester is 8-1. CNE is 14-2 overall; BHS is 14-1.
“We’re going to go up there and be prepared,” CNE coach Jim Jones said. “We’re not going to roll over. The next two games, we’ll play our butts off. Just without our big. These kids can run the floor and they do a pretty good job on the glass themselves. I’m kind of in shock right now, still. It is what it is. We’ll go to Blan, strap it on and get after it.”
The game at the Blanchester gym Tuesday will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. following the freshman and reserve games.
“Basketball is a crazy game,” BHS coach Adam Weber said. “Just consider March Madness … can’t sleep on anybody, especially with a target on your back.
Blanchester lost the first meeting with Clermont Northeastern 73-55.
The Wildcats struggled early, falling behind 18-5 by the end of the first quarter. Blanchester never cut the difference to less than 10 the rest of the way. BHS had nine turnovers in the first quarter and finished with 21.
Blanchester was just 1 for 16 from beyond the three-point arc in the first meeting and had just six assists on 20 made baskets.
Brayden Sipple finished with 31 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and one blocked shot.
Since that loss, the Wildcats have reeled off eight straight wins by an average margin of 25 points.
Sipple is averaging 34 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists per game. Hunter Bare, Blanchester’s post player, average 14 points, 11 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per game. Tanner Creager averages 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals while Jacksson Waialae averages 9 points and 6 rebounds a game. Jay Ashcraft pulls in 7 rebounds a game while Braden Roy aveages 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
For CNE, Bryce Reece and Jerryd Burns averages 10 points each. Reece chips in with 3 assists a game. The Rockets will need to find a way to replace Schmidt’s 26 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists.
Weber has no doubt Jones and Co. will find a way.
“I anticipate this game being a war from start to finish,” said Weber. “Execution and composure are the keys to the game for us.”
Weber says the crowd will play a role, one way or another.
“The gym being packed and jacked will clearly put some difficulty in vocalizing instructions, probably intensify the speed and physicality of both teams,” he said. “As a coach, stressing the importance of controlling your emotions will be critical and keeping a tactical focus, not going off script just because the enhanced environment. The energy from the crowd will be pivotal, as it was for them playing at home in the previous meeting.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports