BLANCHESTER — It was fitting that Blanchester’s senior night game Saturday night with Goshen came down to one final three-point shot.
The two teams combined to take 45 three-point attempts. It was Jacksson Waialae’s final attempt which just missed as the buzzer sounded that gave Goshen a 59-56 victory over the Wildcats.
Knowing the Warriors (13-9) would be smothering Brayden Sipple on the last shot attempt, the final inbounds play went to Waialae instead with 5.8 seconds left. He had a good look at the tying three, but it just missed.
Once the adrenaline wore off from the senior night festivities, the reality of playing a fifth game in eight days – including three in the last four – proved to be too much to overcome.
“We had a long week, not to make excuses,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said. “When you look at what it does affect … it does affect your mechanics, a little bit of the bounce in your step. It definitely affected our ability to close out on defense.”
Blanchester (10-12) trailed through most of the middle of the game. Sipple hit two free throws with 3:24 left to give the Wildcats their first lead since the first minute of the second quarter.
Goshen answered immediately. Christian Kollmorgen hit a three, followed by a Dylan Ashcraft basket, and the Warriors led 54-50 with 2:50 left.
Hunter Slusher pushed the Goshen lead to five, 59-54, with 23.7 left. Waialae drove to the basket and scored a quick layup to pull Blanchester within three with 18.3 left.
After an empty possession by Goshen, Blanchester got one final look for the tie but just missed as the buzzer sounded.
Sipple led Blanchester with 19 points and five rebounds. Waialae added 15 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. Tanner Creager had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Hunter Bare also had 10 points.
Josh Hice led a balanced Goshen attack with 14 points. Kollmorgen and Victor Hill each had 13 points. Goshen knocked down 11 of 26 three-point shots compared to just 5 of 19 for Blanchester.
Despite the tough loss, Weber encouraged his team not to be discouraged with the result.
“I told our kids not to leave the gym with their heads down,” Weber said. “A loss is never something you’re looking for, but improvement at this point of the season is what we’re striving for. We are still improving.”
Blanchester honored seniors Ian Heeg, Brent Hopkins and Matthew Grogg before their final career home game Saturday night.
“With a year like this and this group of kids, those three come in every day with the same mentality, same spirit, same willingness to be coached,” Weber said. “They seem to just enjoy playing basketball. They don’t seem like they’re ready for the ride to end and that makes it enjoyable for us as coaches.”
Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019
@ Blanchester High School
Goshen 59, Blanchester 56
(59) GOSHEN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Dylan Ashcraft 1-0-0-2, Hunter Slusher 2-0-2-6, Christian Kollmorgen 4-4-1-13, Bradley Moore 1-1-1-4, Josh Hice 5-4-0-14, Jack Webster 2-1-0-5, Victor Hill 4-1-4-13, Ashton Harris 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 20-11-8-59.
(56) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Ian Heeg 1-0-0-2, Tanner Creager 3-2-2-10, Brayden Sipple 5-0-9-19, Jacksson Waialae 6-3-0-15, Hunter Bare 5-0-0-10. TOTALS 20-5-11-56.
FIELD GOALS: G 20/53; B 20/48 (Waialae 6/18; Sipple 5/9, Bare 5/6)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: G 11/26; B 5/19 (Waialae 3/13)
FREE THROWS: G 8/15; B 11/13 (Sipple 9/10)
REBOUNDS: G 27; B 30 (Waialae 11, Creager 8, Sipple 5)
ASSISTS: G 13; B 11 (Creager 5)
STEALS: G 12; B 6 (Waialae 3)
BLOCKED SHOTS: G 2; B 1
TURNOVERS: G 10; B 17
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.