FRANKLIN — Forced to scramble for a replacement game after Williamsburg paused team activities, Blanchester ended up with a formidable replacement.
Blanchester ended up with a trip to Franklin awaited to face one of the best teams in the Southwestern Buckeye League.
However, Blanchester didn’t back down from the SWBL Southwestern leaders, pushing them to the end before falling 87-79 on the road Tuesday night.
“I’m proud of the poise and no-quit attitude in a hostile environment,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said. “Our mental and physical effort were good. We were just a little outgunned at times.”
Brayden Sipple became the 29th player in OHSAA boys basketball history to cross the 2,200-point mark. He finished the game with 33 points, giving him 2,230 for his career, 26th on the all-time list.
The odd-numbered quarters hurt Blanchester. A 14-2 run in the opening quarter helped Franklin build a 25-11 lead after eight minutes.
Blanchester rallied in the second quarter, outsourcing the hosts 25-21 to pull within 10 at the break, 46-36.
Franklin (8-1) doubled its lead in the third by outscoring Blanchester 27-17 to take a 73-53 lead to the fourth.
In the final period, Blanchester opened with an 8-0 run to pull within 12, 73-61. A 7-0 run just minutes later pulled the visiting Wildcats within seven, 75-68, with 4:03 left.
“It was almost another great comeback,” Weber said. “They were down 20. We told them to just get some stops and chip away.”
Back-to-back threes by Franklin’s Jayden Bennett on the next two possessions gave Franklin an 81-68 lead with 3:03 remaining. Blanchester got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Sipple also had 13 rebounds and four steals. Brison Lucas had 13 points, while Hunter Hartmann had 11 points. Bryce Sipple had eight points and six rebounds.
Franklin had four scorers in double-figures, led by Noah Rich who had 23 points and nine rebounds. Nate Paarlberg had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Bates and Jayden Bennett each had 14 points.
“Franklin is easily the most balanced and versatile team we’ve played,” Weber said. “They’re 8-1 for a reason.”
After three tough non-league games in a five-day stretch, Blanchester returns to SBC National Division play with a critical matchup at Georgetown on Friday night. In the first meeting of the season at BHS, the Wildcats erased a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 65-64.
Weber expects his now battle-tested team is ready for the homestretch.
“They understand what’s at stake,” Weber said. “They know these three games had a critical purpose.”
Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021
At Franklin High School
Franklin 87, Blanchester 79
(79) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Bryce Sipple 4-0-0-8, Brison Lucas 4-1-4-13, Bryce Highlander 3-3-0-9, Hunter Hartmann 5-1-0-11, Brayden Sipple 12-3-6-33, Colton Wilson 1-0-0-2, Logan Heitzman 1-0-1-3. TOTALS 30-8-11-79.
(87) FRANKLIN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Cayden James 1-0-0-2, Caleb Barnhart 1-0-0-2, Noah Rich 8-4-3-23, Isaiah Bales 5-3-1-14, Nate Paarlberg 9-0-2-20, Jayden Bennett 4-3-3-14, Grant Crase 1-1-0-3, Tez Lattimore 2-0-5-9. TOTALS 31-11-14-87.
FIELD GOALS: B 30/63 (Bra. Sipple 12/18, Hartmann 5/10); F 31/61 (Paarlberg 9/13, Rich 8/19, Bales 5/10)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: B 8/27 (Bra. Sipple 3/7, Highlander 3/11); F 11/31 (Rich 4/11)
FREE THROWS: B 11/18 (Bra. Sipple 6/7, Lucas 4/4); F 14/23 (Lattimore 5/9)
REBOUNDS: B 39 (Bra. Sipple 13, Bry. Sipple 6, Wilson 5, Highlander 4); F 35 (Paarlberg 10, Rich 9)
ASSISTS: B 9 (Bry. Sipple 4); F 17 (Lattimore 9)
STEALS: B 7 (Bra. Sipple 4); F 7
BLOCKED SHOTS: B 2; F 1
TURNOVERS: B 12; F 11
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.