WILLIAMSBURG — Trailing by 11 with 4:13 left and by seven with 2:00 left, Blanchester saw its slim SBAAC National Division title chances slipping away.
Already trailing Georgetown in the standings by one game, the Wildcats could not afford another SBAAC National Division loss.
For the second time this season, Blanchester found the answer just in time to rally against a young and talented Williamsburg squad.
Blanchester outscored Williamsburg 14-2 over the final 3:52 to escape with a 58-57 victory over the hosts.
“I’m proud that we found the stops on the glass that we had to have any chance of coming back in the fourth,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said.
Brayden Sipple and Bryce Highlander combined to score all 14 of those points. Highlander’s three-pointer from the corner with nine seconds left proved to be the game-winner.
Sipple, who broke the Clinton County all-time scoring record earlier in the afternoon, started the rally with a personal 6-0 run.
Jace Canter scored the final two Williamsburg points to stop the run. With 2:00 left, Williamsburg led 57-50.
Highlander answered with a three to pull Blanchester within four. Sipple scored with 30.2 left to make it a two-point game. Williamsburg’s next possession never made it across half court, and Blanchester had a chance with 23.4 seconds left.
Blanchester inbounded the ball under their own basket with 13.5 left. With Sipple drawing the defense’s attention in the middle of the lane, Colton Wilson fired the ball to Highlander who buried the game-winning shot.
“We had a play drawn up,” Weber said. “It’s a reverse of what we normally run. We didn’t know how the movement was going to play out. It worked to perfection. Of course, you hope the guy hits the shot. That was total ice. He stepped into it.
“That was a big shot under pressure that can’t be replicated in practice.”
Williamsburg had one final chance, but a desperation half-court heave fell short.
Sipple finished with 28 points, which gives him 2,425 for his career. Sipple passed three players on the OHSAA all-time list, including locals Jarron Cumberland and former McClain star Dante Jackson. Next up is West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, who is 13th all-time with 2,438 points.
Highlander added 12 points, knocking down four threes. Blanchester made seven threes, three of which came in the final 14-2 run.
Collin Klopfstein led Williamsburg with 17 points. Dan Jones added 16 while Carter Sunderman had 13.
Blanchester has one league game remaining while Georgetown has two. Both teams have matchups with Bethel-Tate remaining, who have been frantically making up games since returning from quarantine. Georgetown also has a game against CNE.
Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021
At Williamsburg High School
Blanchester 58, Williamsburg 57
(58) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Bryce Sipple 0-0-2-2, Bryce Highlander 4-4-0-12, Hunter Hartmann 2-2-0-6, Gabe McVey 1-0-0-2, Brayden Sipple 9-1-9-28, Colton Wilson 1-0-0-2, Logan Heitzman 3-0-0-6. TOTALS 20-7-11-58.
(57) WILLIAMSBURG (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Dan Jones 5-2-4-16, Carter Sunderman 4-3-2-13, Zach Earley 1-0-0-2, Alex Ervin 2-2-0-6, Jace Canter 1-0-1-3, Collin Klopfstein 5-2-5-17. TOTALS 18-9-12-57
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.