BLANCHESTER — Blanchester’s Brayden Sipple and Jordan Stroud combined for 49 points Tuesday as the Wildcats survived a barrage of threes to hold off Batavia 66-63.
Stroud broke a 61-all tie with 1:11 remaining with a pair of free throws. He hit another free throw with 44.9 left to give Blan a 64-61 lead.
Nate Watson pulled the Bulldogs (2-9) within one with a pair of free throws with 31.7 remaining.
Nevan Coyle restored Blanchester’s three-point lead with a basket with 15 seconds left. Batavia’s Ryan Storer had a chance to tie, but his three missed. Wesley Mitchell grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock.
While Sipple (27 points, 15 rebounds) and Stroud (22 points) led the Wildcats, it was the supporting cast that made huge plays in the fourth quarter.
BHS head coach Adam Weber knew Batavia was going to smother his leading scorers.
“We called a timeout and I looked at the three guys that weren’t (Sipple) and (Stroud) and said, ‘It’s your time,’” Weber said. “Those guys were really having a hard time getting the ball. I told them to be confident.”
With Stroud going to the bench with four fouls with 6:32 left, Brant Bandow hit two huge buckets. The last one, a three, gave Blan a 53-49 lead with 5:21 left.
Batavia surged, taking a 56-53 lead with 3:35 left thanks to threes by Braxton Burke and Corbin Richardson.
Wesley Mitchell was the next to hit a big shot, scoring while being fouled. He didn’t convert the three-point play, but it pulled Blan within a point.
The next trip down, Mitchell scored again to give Blan a 57-56 lead. Baskets by Sipple and Eric Patton increased Blanchester’s lead to 61-56 with 1:40 left.
Once again, the Bulldogs had an answer. Burke scored, followed by another three by Richardson, and the game was tied at 61 with 1:18 left.
Stroud’s free throws and Coyle’s basket would seal the victory for the Wildcats.
Sipple, who wore a Batavia defender for much of the second half, still was able to get big baskets on one end and big rebounds on the other.
“It will be scary when his body grows up to match his ability,” Weber said of his freshman guard. “He is able to make difficult things look easy. Even with the joy of seeing him every day, you see fascinating things every day. This was another perfect example.”
Richardson led Batavia with 19 points. Burke added 11. Batavia made 11 of its 21 field goals from three-point range. The Bulldogs had more threes made than twos (11-10).
Awaiting Blanchester (4-6) Friday is a showdown against Williamsburg. Both teams are battling for second place in the National Division, trying to stay in touch with first-place Georgetown.
“Our non-conference schedule has helped us for that game,” Weber said. “It’s at our place. Our people have made the place loud over the last couple home games. We’re looking forward to it.”
January 9, 2018
@Blanchester High School
Blanchester 66, Batavia 63
(63) BATAVIA (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Ryan Storer 2-2-2-8, Corbin Richardson 5-4-5-19, Dylan Ellington 2-0-0-4, Braxton Burke 4-3-0-11, Jason Griffin 4-0-1-9, Nate Watson 1-1-2-5, Jon Witt 1-1-0-3, Kaleb Moell 2-0-0-4. TOTALS 21-11-10-63.
(66) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Eric Patton 2-0-0-4, Nevan Coyle 1-0-0-2, Brant Bandow 2-1-0-5, Brayden Sipple 8-2-9-27, Wesley Mitchell 3-0-0-6, Jordan Stroud 5-1-11-22. TOTALS 21-4-20-66.
FIELD GOALS: BA 21/58 (Richardson 5/11, Burke 4/10, Griffin 4/6); B 21/46 (Sipple 8/18, Stroud 5/8)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: BA 11/30 (Richardson 4/7, Burke 3/6); B 4/15 (Sipple 2/8)
FREE THROWS: BA 10/13 (Richardson 5/8); B 20/30 (Stroud 11/16, Sipple 9/12)
TURNOVERS: BA 21; BL 23
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.