BLANCHESTER — Friday’s matchup between the SBC American Division champions and National Division co-champions more than lived up to the hype.
Brayden Sipple’s jumper from the right elbow with 1:30 left gave Blanchester the lead for good in a 71-69 win over New Richmond.
“Guys are clutch when they need to be clutch,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said. “It’s been a good balance of different players doing it. That’s why we’re 21-1. ”
Blanchester wrapped up the regular season with 16 straight wins and a school-record 21-1 mark. New Richmond is now 17-5.
“The chemistry on this team is unquestioned,” Weber said. “Chemistry means knowing when it’s time for you to do something. It’s knowing when the other team is targeting some of your strengths and you have to move to another strength.
“I can’t say enough about how special this group is. And we said day one they were special.”
It was a showdown between the league’s two best teams and two of the best players, Sipple and New Richmond freshman Evan Ipsaro.
Sipple won the statistical battle, finishing with 32 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Ipsaro was impressive as well, scoring 25 points and seven assists.
Ipsaro not only impressed Weber but his team as well.
“When we call timeouts and we’re talking about our defense and my own players say, ‘This kid is good, coach,’ that says all that needs to be said,” Weber said. “We have one of the quickest teams I’ve ever seen. Our players came over and said, ‘He’s got moves, coach.’ We had to adjust as best we could.”
Weber was forced to bring Sipple to the bench with 6:00 left in the fourth after he picked up his fourth foul. However, unlike in the first half when New Richmond took advantage of Sipple’s absence, the Lions only added one point to their lead with Blan’s leading scorer on the bench.
“His teammates have proven that they can sustain the game,” Weber said. “We also knew he needed to be out there as much as possible. Once we got him back in the game, we felt we were going to be able to finish it.”
With 3:47 left in the fourth, Sipple returned. He made two free throws to tie the game at 65 with 3:20 left.
Ipsaro broke a 65-all tie with 3:12 left with a basket while being fouled. He missed the free throw, but the Lions had the lead 67-65.
Tanner Creager hit one of two from the line with 2:19 left to pull Blanchester within a point. Sipple scored with 1:30 left to give Blan a 68-67 lead.
Single free throws by Sipple and Creager pushed Blanchester’s lead to three. New Richmond had a chance to tie, but Shep Lansaw’s three just missed, and Sipple was fouled with 5.0 left.
Sipple’s 32-point effort gives him 1,835 points for his career. He passed Sabina’s Phil Snow for fifth all-time in scoring in Clinton County basketball history. He is now one point behind Wilmington graduate and University of Cincinnati guard Jaevin Cumberland for fourth on the list.
In addition to Sipple’s 32, Tanner Creager finished with 18 points and four steals. Hunter Bare had 14 points and six rebounds.
For New Richmond, Kadin Pollard had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
New Richmond and Blanchester will see each other again, although both will need one more win each if they want a rematch. New Richmond opens tournament play against Ross 5:30 Feb. 22 at Princeton High School. Blanchester will take on Bishop Fenwick following that game at approximately 7 p.m.
If both teams win, the two teams will have their rematch 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Princeton.
Friday, Feb. 14, 2020
At Blanchester High School
Blanchester 71, New Richmond 69
(69) NEW RICHMOND (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Will Hess 1-1-0-3, Tyler Sininger 2-2-3-9, Kadin Pollard 6-1-1-14, Shep Lansaw 2-1-0-5, Evan Ipsaro 10-3-2-25, Bo Snider 2-0-0-4, John Ipsaro 3-0-1-7, Justin Ackerman 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 27-8-7-69.
(71) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Braden Roy 0-0-1-1, Tanner Creager 6-2-4-18, Brayden Sipple 11-1-9-32, Jacksson Waialae 1-0-0-2, Jay Ashcraft 2-0-0-4, Hunter Bare 7-0-0-14. TOTALS 27-3-14-71.
FIELD GOALS: NR 27/59 (E. Ipsaro 10/17, Pollard 6/13); B 27/52 (Sipple 11/23, Bare 7/7, Creager 6/10)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: NR 8/21 (E. Ipsaro 3/7); B 3/17 (Creager 2/5)
FREE THROWS: NR 7/11 (Sininger 3/4); B 14/21 (Sipple 9/12, Creager 4/6)
REBOUNDS: NR 30 (Pollard 10, Lansaw 4, E. Ipsaro 4, J. Ipsaro 4); B 32 (Sipple 10, Ashcraft 6, Bare 6)
ASSISTS: NR 16 (E. Ipsaro 7, Lansaw 6); B 10 (Sipple 3)
STEALS: NR 9 (Lansaw 3, E. Ipsaro 3); B 11 (Creager 4)
BLOCKED SHOTS: NR 1; B 1
TURNOVERS: NR 18; B 15
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.