BLANCHESTER — A two-minute stretch of the fourth quarter proved to be decisive Tuesday night at Blanchester High School.
With the game tied at 46 with 6:33 left, Blanchester went on a 14-0 run over 1:57 as the Wildcats defeated East Clinton 69-55.
The run was part of a larger 25-7 stretch for the Wildcats after East Clinton took its one and only lead of the game, 41-40, with 2:22 left in the third.
Blanchester head coach Adam Weber was thrilled with how well his team played as a cohesive unit.
“I think this was the first time since the beginning of the season that we were truly playing for the right reasons,” BHS head coach Adam Weber. “You could see the reactions. Hopefully, they can build off of that and feel the difference.”
The run started when Jordan Stroud returned to the floor with four fouls. In that 1:57, Stroud had eight points, Brayden Sipple had five, Eric Patton had a three and Lane Heeg had three points.
What was a tie game became a 60-46 Wildcat lead. East Clinton, which had rallied from a 16-4 deficit early, couldn’t find a second comeback.
“We fought back from the sloppy start we had,” EC head coach Tony Berlin said. “I thought the turning point for us was when Stroud got his fourth foul and we took the lead. It shows you how fast the momentum can swing.”
Stroud led Blanchester with 23, while Sipple had 22. Weber believed it was a big step forward for his offense.
“It was definitely an offensive rhythm that is a potent force,” Weber said. “This was the full package, or close to the full package.”
JT McCarren led East Clinton with 22 points. Wyatt Floyd added 18 points.
It was a strong comeback, but a tough finish for the Astros. EC made just 3 of 17 from the floor in the fourth, while Blanchester made 10 of 19.
The game itself was brought into perspective before the opening tip.
East Clinton assistant Roger Earley suffered the loss of both his mother and mother-in-law. Blanchester players and coaches offered their condolences prior to the tip-off.
It was a touching moment between two rivals closely connected on and off the court.
“My kids and coach Earley are all connected,” Weber said. “When word came about what was unfolding, it was my players that initiated wanting to show a symbol of compassion. As soon as I heard that, we got in contact. It was a beautiful moment.”
For Berlin and the Astro program, it has understandably been a difficult week.
“The whole team has been praying for him all week,” Berlin said. “Between going to calling hours, and finding out his mother-in-law died. We all have heavy hearts to know what he’s going through.
“That was a great thing that the Blanchester team and Adam (Weber) did. In fact, Jordan Stroud texted me last night to ask if that would be alright. That shows what kind of program, what kind of kids they have down there.”
Dec. 19, 2017
@ Blanchester High School
Blanchester 69, East Clinton 55
(55) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) JT McCarren 6-0-10-22, Alex Pence 1-0-0-2, Dylan Michael 3-1-2-9, Wyatt Floyd 6-1-5-18, Matt Mitchell 0-0-4-4. TOTALS 16-2-21-55.
(69) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Eric Patton 3-2-0-8, Nevan Coyle 1-0-1-3, Brant Bandow 2-0-0-4, Brayden Sipple 7-3-5-22, Wesley Mitchell 1-0-0-2, Lane Heeg 1-0-1-3, Jordan Stroud 9-1-4-23, Noah Armocida 1-0-0-2, Jacob Fischer 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 26-6-11-69.
FIELD GOALS: EC 16/51 (Floyd 6/18, McCarren 6/17); B 26/60 (Stroud 9/15, Sipple 7/13)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: EC 2/19; B 6/17 (Sipple 3/5, Patton 2/3)
FREE THROWS: EC 21/28 (McCarren 10/13, Floyd 5/6, Mitchell 4/4); B 11/19 (Sipple 5/5, Stroud 4/8)
TURNOVERS: EC 23; B 13
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton