MASON — For the second-straight year, Bishop Fenwick bounced Blanchester from the Division II boys sectional basketball tournament. This year, the Wildcats fell 63-26 Saturday at Mason High School.
“We knew this was a tall task. I can’t be more proud of our fight,” Blan head coach Adam Weber said. “Down big with 20 seconds to go, we still have guys diving into the bleachers for rebounds.
“The message we left them with was ‘Sports are temporary, but character is forever.’ We talked at halftime about whatever the score becomes, what are people going to say about your character when it’s over? None of our players got technicals for taunting. We just kept playing hard.”
Fenwick (12-7) had a 13-2 start to the game, a 9-2 start to the second quarter and a 9-1 finish to the second quarter to lead 38-17 at the intermission. Blan, unofficially, had nine turnovers and Fenwick bottled up Wildcat standout Brayden Sipple, holding him to just four first-half points, all from the free-throw line.
The Wildcats (11-9) finished the game, unofficially, with 15 turnovers. Sipple finished with a team-high nine points on 9-of-13 shooting from the line.
Sipple now has 2,442 career points, good for 13th on the state’s career scoring list. He passed West Virginia head men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins Saturday and now sits 18 points behind Ohio State national champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball hall of famer Jerry Lucas.
“That’s the best on-ball defensive team with size that we’ve seen. It was difficult for us to move the ball with the dribble, because they could match you step-for-step and they had active hands. They’re a really, really good on-ball defensive team. So they were going to be a problem for us on offense, no matter what we were trying to do,” Weber said. “Some of the turnovers we had, that weren’t forced, we made note of, but overall, they were a bigger, better team.”
Fenwick’s Wright State commit, A.J. Braun, led all scorers with 17 points.
“Then on the defensive side of the ball, for having such small perimeter players that have to try to help in the post, which we aren’t big there, either, I was proud of at least our game plan trying to slow (Braun) down. I’m not disappointed in that part of our game at all.”
The game was played with a running clock from the 1:56 mark of the third quarter when Fenwick went up by 35 points, 56-21.
The game never fell below the 30-point margin necessary to halt the running clock.
Blanchester will return to action at a date and time to be determined against Bethel-Tate with an eye on back-to-back Southern Buckeye Conference National Division championships for the first time in school history.
Feb 20, 2021
Div 3 Sectional
@Mason High School
Fenwick 63 Blanchester 26
(63) FENWICK (fg-ft-tp) Evers-Smith 4-0-9, Richards 2-1-5, Ross 5-2-15, Braun 5-6-17, Earls 3-1-8, Mulligan 1-0-2, Bernath 1-0-3, Beatty 0-0-0, Thompson 0-0-0, Gavigan 0-0-0, English 1-2-4, Janeck 0-0-0, Hooks 0-0-0, Strunk 0-0-0. Total 22-12-63. 3-point goals: 7 (Ross 3, Bernath, Evers-Smith, Braun, Earls). FTM-FTA 12-18, 67 percent.
(26) BLANCHESTER (fg-ft-tp) Highlander 1-1-4, Hartman 1-0-2, Brayden Sipple 0-9-9, Wilson 0-0-0, Heitzman 1-0-2, Bryce Sipple 2-2-6, Lucas 0-1-1, Akers 0-0-0, Gray 0-0-0, West 0-0-0, McVey 1-0-2. Total 6-13-26. 3-point goals: 1 (Highlander). FTM-FTA 13-21, 62 percent.
Shawn Robinson covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @twinzdad01.