BLANCHESTER — When the Blanchester boys basketball team needed a clutch shot late Saturday night, it knew Sipple would come through.
This time, it was freshman Bryce Sipple.
With big brother Brayden on the bench in a walking boot after a first-quarter injury, it was the younger Sipple that hit his second game-winning shot of the evening in a 53-50 victory over Williamsburg.
Brayden Sipple went to the floor following a three-point attempt with 4:29 left in the first quarter and did not return.
“It was like playing a checkers game trying to figure out who we had left, who was hurt,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said. “I’m really, really proud. We said it at halftime. It’s circumstances you don’t want to see, but, ‘Can you guys win without Sipple?’
“That was the challenge at halftime. He loves them, they love him, and they wanted to find a way to try to pull it out.”
Blanchester led by six, 38-32, with 2:05 left in the third quarter. Williamsburg went on a 15-2 run over the next 4:04 to take a 47-40 lead with 6:01 remaining.
The rest of the game belonged to Blanchester. The defense forced seven Williamsburg turnovers in the period and held them to just 2 of 12 from the floor in the fourth.
Logan Heitzman and Gabe McVey scored to pull Blanchester within three. After Alex Ervin answered with a bucket for WHS, free throws by Bryce Sipple and Brison Lucas – who led the Wildcats with 17 points – pulled Blan back to within three with 2:46 left.
Hunter Hartmann, who also exited the game for more than half a quarter with a wrist injury, scored to get Blan within a point. A Heitzman free throw tied the game with 1:18 remaining.
After Jace Canter’s free throw put WHS back in front again, 50-49, with 50.4 left, Bryce Sipple pulled up from the right elbow and scored with 22 seconds left to give Blan the lead.
Sipple and Heitzman hit free throws to make it a 53-50 game with 7.2 left. Williamsburg set up a final play out of a timeout but then turned the ball over at midcourt to end it.
Hartmann finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Heitzman had eight points and five rebounds. Bryce Sipple finished with seven points.
The go-ahead shot was his second of the day, as he also hit the game-winning three at the buzzer of the reserve game earlier in the afternoon. This was just four days after being injured in the reserve game Tuesday night.
“First off, our trainer Carrie (Ottopal) is awesome,” Weber said. “She has managed these guys all week long with the objective of getting them out here Saturday night. Bryce came out to shootaround this morning and looked good.
“He’s always been a determined kid. I think he was determined to come through for his big brother. He had a big clutch night for us.”
It wasn’t just the players mentioned above who made big plays for the Wildcats. They got key minutes out of Colton Wilson, Nolan Gray, Justin Hogsett and Seth Akers.
“That is a lot harder to do than people think,” Weber said. “They have leaned on (Sipple) creating their opportunities. This was a challenge for me as a coach and them as players, when you take out a 40-point per game scorer, to find ways to attack their defense. I’m really proud of them. I’m proud they didn’t quit.”
Collin Klopfstein had a strong game in defeat for Williamsburg. He led WHS with 18 points and eight rebounds. Canter added 10 points. Williamsburg outrebounded Blanchester 45-35, including 22-11 on the offensive glass.
However, in addition to the poor fourth-quarter shooting and turnovers, Williamsburg also made just 7 of 18 from the free-throw line. Blanchester made 16 of 29.
As for Brayden Sipple, he said following the game that he thought his ankle was sprained. Weber believed he would have his senior sharpshooter back for Wednesday’s trip to Batavia.
It’s the first of two tough non-league games this week. After playing at Batavia Wednesday, the Wildcats return home to face Hillsboro on Friday.
“This is going to be a tough week,” Weber said. “(Sipple) will be back, but we’ve got to prepare as if he’s not. They’re going to have to put their hardhats on. These are going to be games won in the trenches.”
With his three points, Sipple is now 47 points behind Jarron Cumberland for first all-time in Clinton County history.
Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021
At Blanchester High School
Blanchester 53, Williamsburg 50
(50) WILLIAMSBURG (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Dan Jones 4-1-0-9, Carter Sunderman 1-0-0-2, Zach Earley 0-0-1-1, Alex Ervin 3-0-1-7, Jace Canter 4-2-2-12, Chris Selm 0-0-1-1, Collin Klopfstein 7-2-2-18. TOTALS 19-5-7-50.
(53) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Bryce Sipple 2-0-3-7, Brison Lucas 3-2-9-17, Hunter Hartmann 4-1-1-10, Gabe McVey 2-1-0-5, Brayden Sipple 1-1-0-3, Colton Wilson 1-0-1-3, Logan Heitzman 3-0-2-8.
FIELD GOALS: W 19/56 (Klopfstein 7/14); B 16/41 (Hartmann 4/9, Lucas 3/6, Heitzman 3/7)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: W 5/21 (Canter 2/5); B 5/15 (Lucas 2/4)
FREE THROWS: W 7/18; B 16/29 (Lucas 9/11)
REBOUNDS: W 45 (Ervin 9, Canter 9, Klopfstein 8, Sunderman 6); B 35 (Hartmann 6, Bry. Sipple 5, Heitzman 5)
ASSISTS: W 6; B 10
STEALS: W 6; B 6
BLOCKED SHOTS: W 0; B 2 (Hartmann 2)
TURNOVERS: W 14; B 11