PIQUA – The Bradford boys basketball team a No.11 seed came to play in the opening round of the OHSAA DIV Piqua Sectional Tournament against No. 1 Botkins. The Railroaders jumped up early 17-9 and led 27-25 at the half but in the end the Trojans recovered to win the game 63-45.
On paper and in the minds of many this wasn’t supposed to be a game … but no one told Bradford.
They stormed out to a quick 8-2 lead by pushing the ball up the floor getting to the rim before Botkins could set-up on defense.
The Trojans closed the gap to 11-9 only to see the Roaders run off the next 6 points to take a 17-9 lead after one quarter of play.
Hudson Hill had 6 points, Parker Davidson 5, Connor Jones 4 and Gage Wills 2 in the quarter.
“We got off to a really good start,” 2nd year Bradford coach Jay Hall said. “We figured they (Botkins) doesn’t see a whole lot of zone in the Shelby County league and it was effective. They missed some shots and we were able to get the rebound and push it up the floor to get some easy lay-ups early on,” Hall added.
The Trojans would do a better job in the 2nd quarter of getting back and not giving up easy lay-ups but they couldn’t slow down Parker Davidson who connected on two threes and a fielder giving Bradford a 25-18 lead at the 2:10 mark.
Davidson would pick up his 3rd fouls seconds later and have to sit on the bench which would become a factor later in the game.
Senior Connor Jones, who was a spark plug all night made a great hustle play and scored on a lay-up to go up 27-18 with 1:35 left to go in the first half.
Botkins behind Jacob Pleiman 10 first half points closed the gap to 27-25 at the break.
Just a few second into the 3rd quarter Parker Davidson picked up his 4th foul and the Roaders would struggle to generate offense going nearly 8 minutes over the span of the 2nd quarter to the 3rd quarter.
That drought resulted in a 28-0 scoring run that was finally stopped by Tucker Miller with a deuce in the paint … but by then the Trojans had built a 46-29 advantage.
“That made it very difficult for us when Parker went to the bench because he’s our horse and the rest of us support him as far as the offense goes and it became difficult for us to get points,” coach Hall stated.
“I don’t think a lot of people know this but he’s playing basically on one leg right now. He sprained his ankle to the point where you can’t even see it. That has limited his quickness, speed and mobility and I think some of his foul’s tonight was a lack of ability to explode and finish off plays which caused him to reach on defense,” Hall added.
“I have to give him credit, his pain tolerance is unreal and I’m proud of him for gutting it out tonight,” Hall praised.
Parker returned in the final stanza adding 6 more points and led all scorers in the game with 19.
The hole was too big by then as the #9 AP DIV Team in the state rolled on to a 63-45 win to advance to the next round ending the Railroaders season.
“You have to give credit to Botkins, they’ve got a team, those boys can play. I was really impressed once they got it going how fast they could put points on the board, hitting those jumpers and getting to the rim,” Hall expressed. “When you have 3 players on the perimeter who can play fast and knock it down, you might get in a hole … but they also can get out of it quickly,” Hall added.
Botkins dropped 7 triples in the 3rd quarter and placed 4 players in double figures for the game, led by Jacob Pleiman with 15 points, Jameson Meyer 14, Jayden Priddy 12 and Zane Paul 10.
None of that diminished how Coach Hall felt about his team and how far they have come over the last two years since he took over the program.
“I’m very proud of the effort we put up out there tonight, we came out and executed the things we worked on all week. We had a few mistakes but we recovered with our effort, that’s something we’ve stressed all season, effort can overcome a lot of mistakes,’ Hall stated.
Seniors who led that effort were Connor Jones, Taven Leach, Austin Crickmore and Gage Wills.
“We had 2 wins last year and 5 this year, we are making an upswing and these guys are a big part of us moving in the right direction,” Hall said.
Connor Jones, man #24, he just plays, if you put his heart in some of these talented kids … Holy Cow! A lot of credit to him and his motor.
Taven Leach #21 can shoot the ball when he’s on, but when he misses a shot or two he got down on himself.
Gage Wills #23 battled in there tonight against Jacob Pleiman and Austin Crickmore #42 gave us a good rotationplaying hard to slow down a great ball-player, that was no easy task, he’s a talented, strong player,” Hall added.
While Hall isdisappointed his seniors will be gone he is optimistic about the future of Bradford … and with good reason.
“Hudson Hill is just a freshman and has been playing well all season, he handles the ball most of the time and doesn’t get too high or too low, he’s a good hardworking kid and I’m looking forward to having him here for 3 more years and of course Parker Davidson is back and the next two years with him should be a lot of fun,” Hall concluded.
Score by Quarters
Bradford 17 … 10 … 04 … 14 – 45
Botkins 09 … 16 … 23 … 15 – 63
Bradford –Hudson Hill 8, Parker Davidson 19, Taven Leach 2, Gage Wills 3, Connor Jones 4, Austin Crickmore 2, Tucker Miller 7; Totals 5-12-6/10 – 45
Botkins – Jameson Meyer 14, Zane Paul 10, Jayden Priddy 12, Carter Pleiman 8, Tyler Free 4, Jacob Pleiman 15; Totals 7-18-6/11 – 63