PIQUA – Ansonia built up a 14-point lead against Botkins in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV Piqua boys basketball sectional tournament and then held off a furious rally by the Trojans for a 59-57 win.
Botkins scored more points in the fourth quarter (30) then the other three combined (27) and nearly shocked the Tigers with their late run.
Ansonia isn’t shy about shooting the 3-ball, and the Tigers used it to their advantage, canning seven of them in the first half.
Trevor Alexander and Hunter Buckingham each had two and Devyn Sink, Aydan Sanders and Hunter Muir all had one each.
Muir went down on a drive to the basket at the five-minute mark as he continues to try and deal with a nagging injury from earlier in the season; he was unable to continue.
Muir went out, in stepped Andrew Rowland, and the young man made his presence felt.
Not only did he have seven rebounds in the first half, six of them on were on the offensive glass. Some led to second chance scores, including his own last-second desperation toss. While falling to the floor he was able to get it to drop as the first half ended, giving the Tigers a 29-17 lead at the break.
“Rowland was great. We talked about it before we came out that in the tournament you need guys to step up and make plays for you. He’s not a guy who’s going to score 30 points, but he had 8 points and 10 rebounds tonight; that’s a great night, and his energy was infectious,” Ansonia boys basketball coach Chad Cramer said.
Alexander scored 7 of the 12 Ansonia points in the third quarter while holding Botkins to just 10 points to go up 41-27 heading into the final stanza.
If anyone thought it was over, they should have told Botkins because the Trojans weren’t ready to throw in the towel.
They put on a full court defensive clinic and were very aggressive with nothing to lose. They were either going to get a steal or foul Ansonia.
Normally a scenario like that leads to one team being able to seal the game at the free throw line … or, if they miss it leads to the other team stealing one away.
In other cases, if the team trailing gets hot then the team with the lead starts missing free throws and loses the lead.
In this rare instance Botkins not only created turnovers, the Trojans got hot and scored 30 points in the fourth quarter.
But to the credit of Ansonia the Tigers did what was needed as well. After not shooting any free throws in the first three quarters, they shot 17 in the fourth quarter. They missed the first one but from there ran off 16 straight, and they needed every one of them.
Botkins hit a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left to make the score 55-51 … but Sink sank the next four straight to go up 59-54. A last second triple by Botkins made the final score 59-57, and Ansonia finally broke the tournament curse of the decade.
“I know we didn’t finish the game the way we wanted to, but it’s our first tournament win in 10 years, and we played awful well for three quarters, I thought,” Cramer said.
“We just ran out of gas. Part of that was my fault. Muir went down in the first three minutes. (Brayden) Swabb and Rowland fouled out. We just couldn’t take them out of the game. We wore out, and they just kept coming and coming. I give them (Botkins) credit; they played their butts off,” Cramer added.
“We had guys step up and make free throws at the end. Without it we don’t win. We didn’t handle the ball well at the end … but it requires focus to step up to the line and knock down free throws and our guys made them. They deserve credit for that,” Cramer said.
Alexander led Ansonia with 19 points and six rebounds, Sink had 15 points and three steals, Sanders had 8 points and five assists, and Rowland 8 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers.
There was a time Ansonia made regular appearances in the sectional finals and district in tournament basketball. In fact, current coach Chad Cramer had taken the Tigers to five straight back in the mid-2000s with their last tournament win resulting in a sectional title back in 2007.
The boys playing today might recall some of those players: Brad McEldowney, Eric Beisner, Adam Kremer, Logan Beam and Niles Brown to name a few. Now it’s their turn to see if they can restore some of the prestige back into the Ansonia basketball lore.
Ansonia improved to 12-10 overall and will have that chance on Saturday when the Tigers face off at 7 p.m. with Fort Loramie for a sectional title at Piqua High School.
Score by quarters
BOTKINS .… 08 … 09 … 10 … 30 – 57
ANSONIA … 14 … 15 … 12 … 18 – 59
BOTKINS – Goubeax 3, Paul 9, Smock 6, Heuker 11, Free 11, Madden 8, Butcher 7; Totals 6-15-9/11 – 57
ANSONIA – Aydan Sanders 8, Devyn Sink 15, Hunter Buckingham 6, Hunter Muir 3, Trevor Alexander 19, Andrew Rowland 8; Totals 9-8-16/17 – 59