OWENSVILLE — Blanchester’s house of horrors nearly derailed the Wildcats’ hopes at a second straight SBAAC National Division title.
With the game tied at 45 with 3:25 remaining, Blanchester scored 12 of the final 13 points of the game Friday night to escape with a 56-46 victory over Clermont Northeastern.
It was Blanchester’s first win at CNE since Dec. 16, 2016. The win allowed the Wildcats to keep pace with Georgetown at 7-1 in league play.
Blanchester’s second straight win was anything but easy thanks to a tenacious defensive effort by the hosts.
“They made it hard for us to get anything close to the basket,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said. “I felt we didn’t attack the interior very well, but (CNE) was extremely passionate in this game.”
This game was similar to many of the others at Clermont Northeastern in the 1,498 days between victories.
After scoring at least 76 points in three straight and just three nights after hanging 101 on Felicity, the Wildcats struggled to score against an aggressive CNE defense.
With Brayden Sipple smothered most of the night, Blanchester got critical offensive performances from Bryce Highlander and Hunter Hartmann.
Highlander knocked down five threes on his way to 17 points, while Hartmann made four of his own in a 16-point, seven-rebound performance.
“That’s two games in a row that those guys have been lethal,” Weber said. “Truth be told, they’ve been putting in extra time and it paid off. CNE spent so much time trying to pinpoint Brayden. These two were mixing their positions on the floor and hit the shots when they mattered.”
Sipple would pull the Wildcats across the finish line. His basket with 3:06 left started the 12-1 Blanchester run and gave Blan the lead for good.
Following a Logan Pottorf free throw for the Rockets, Highlander knocked down his fifth three of the game to give Blanchester a 50-46 lead.
Sipple finished the game at the line making all six of his free throws over the final 53.1 seconds to finally put away the scrappy Rockets.
Mason Martin led CNE with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Pottorf finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. While those two cleaned up on the inside, outside shooting likely determined the outcome, as Blanchester made 11 of 29 from beyond the arc while CNE made just 1 of 13.
With his game-high 19 points, Sipple now has 2,337 career points. He is 71 points shy of Wilmington’s Jarron Cumberland for first all-time in Clinton County history. He passed Jim Jackson for 24th all-time in OHSAA history and is 29 points from the top 20.
Friday, Jan. 22, 2021
At Clermont Northeastern High School
Blanchester 56, Clermont Northeastern 46
(56) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Bryce Sipple 0-0-1-1, Brison Lucas 1-1-0-3, Bryce Highlander 5-5-2-17, Hunter Hartmann 5-4-2-16, Brayden Sipple 6-1-6-19. TOTALS 17-11-11-56.
(46) CLERMONT NORTHEASTERN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Austin Yeager 0-0-2-2, Logan Pottorf 5-0-1-11, Owen Fishback 0-0-1-1, Bryce Reece 2-1-2-7, CJ Boothby 1-0-0-2, Mason Martin 7-0-0-14, Trevor House 3-0-0-6, Angus King 1-0-1-3. TOTALS 19-1-7-46.
FIELD GOALS: B 17/48 (Sipple 6/15, Highlander 5/14, Hartmann 5/10); C 19/56 (Martin 7/20, Pottorf 5/9)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: B 11/29 (Highlander 5/14, Hartmann 4/6); C 1/13
FREE THROWS: B 11/13 (Sipple 6/6); C 7/15
REBOUNDS: B 34 (Sipple 14, Hartmann 7); C 39 (Martin 13, Pottorf 10, House 9)
ASSISTS: B 10 (Sipple 3, Lucas 2, Highlander 2); C 5
STEALS: B 6 (Sipple 4); C 5
BLOCKED SHOTS: B 4 (Sipple 2); C 1
TURNOVERS: B 12; C10
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.