By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
BRANDT —- Both the Piqua and Bethel girls basketball teams were looking for a milestone win Monday night in the regular season finale for both teams.
And after Bethel dominated much of the first half and Piqua answered with a big third quarter, it came down to the final two minutes.
After Izzy Kidwell hit a career high seven 3-pointers in the first three quarters for the Indians, Tylah Yeomans scored eight points in the final 1:18 to rally the Indians to a 58-51 victory.
Piqua is now 14-8, the Indians first 14 win season since 1986-87. The Indians will open Troy D-I sectional tournament play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Springfield.
“We wanted this game tonight,” Piqua coach Jon Dolph said. “Not just winning 14 games, but we avoid double digit losses by winning tonight.”
Bethel closes the regular season at 11-11 and will open Covington D-III sectional tournament play against the Greeneview-Arcanum winner at 6 p.m. next Tuesday.
“A win would have clincher our first winning season in five our six years,” Bethel coach Corey Steinke said. “And really, we were a stop or two away. We are still so young. We are starting five sophomores.”
With 2:22 to go, birthday girl Olivia Reittinger made two free throws to give Bethel a 51-50 lead.
After a defensive stop, Bethel had a chance to widen the lead at the 1:47 mark, but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
“We had a chance to go up three there,” Steinke said.
With 1:18 to go, Yeomans —- who scored 12 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter — was fouled as she scored and converted the free throw to put Piqua up 53-51.
Then, Bethel had a turnover with 57 seconds to go.
“We never should have driven the baseline,” Steinke said. “They collapsed on us and we threw the ball away. But, one play doesn’t lose you the game.”
Piqua ran the clock down under 15 seconds, before Yeomans added a second 3-point play with 12.9 seconds to go.
“I wanted her to take the shot,” Dolph said. “I wanted one more basket at that point. We were trying to iso her, but things just got too scrambled. For her to score 12 points in the fourth quarter with four fouls says a lot.”
Then after a defensive stop, Yeomans was fouled and hit two free throws for the final margin. That made Piqua 19 of 22 from the line for the game for a torrid for 86 percent.
Which is why Steinke was reluctant to foul at the end.
“The way they were shooting from the line, you take your chances on getting a defensive stop (or turnover),” he said. “One team shot close to 90 percent from the line and the other team shot 50 percent. You are not going to beat a team that shoots 19 of 22 from the line. It is not going to happen.”
After Kidwell hit a couple threes early to put Piqua in front 6-2, Bethel turned the game around going on an 18-2 run to go in front 20-8.
While Piqua’s free throws shooting and Kidwell’s bombs from outside kept the Indians in the game, Bethel still led 29-25 at the break. The Bees were paced by Makenna Gray hitting three shots from long range and scoring 14 first-half points.
“We had her (Tylah Yeomans) boxed in,” Steinke said. “We had scouted them. We knew (Izzy) Kidwell was a good shooter. But, she hit more tonight than she usually does.”
Piqua double Bethel 20-10 in the third quarter to take a 45-39 lead as Kidwell hit three more 3-pointers and Kelsey Bachman and Reagan Toopes added one each.
“That’s the great thing about Izzy (Kidwell),” Dolph said. “She always has the other team’s best player and does a great job on defense —- then when she is hitting like tonight, that’s amazing. For awhile there, it seemed like everything we put up was going in.”
And Bethel lost Klaudia Lowery to injury early in the third quarter.
“That was a big loss, she was really playing well,” Steinke said. “We are hoping to get her back for the tournament game, but it doesn’t look good.”
After two free throws by Yeomans gave Piqua a 47-39 lead to start the fourth quarter, Bethel rallied.
When Gray and Reittinger scored on back-to-back layups, Bethel took a 49-48 lead, before Piqua’s big finish.
Kidwell made seven of 14 three-point attempts in scoring 21, while Yeomans was nine of 10 from the line in finishing with 15 points and five rebounds.
Kenzi Anderson grabbed eight rebounds, Karley Johns had five boards, Bachman had seven points and five rebounds and Hailey McPherson gave Piqua some big minutes with six points.
Gray led Bethel with 19 points and six rebounds, while Reittinger had 10 points and six rebounds.
Lydia Lowery added eight points and eight rebounds.
To go with its free throw shooting, Piqua was 15 of 49 from the floor for 31 percent.
Bethel was 19 of 56 from the floor for 34 percent and eight of 15 from the line for 53 percent.
Bethel won the battle of the boards 32-29 and both teams had 12 turnovers.
Now, both teams will look for some tournament magic after a game that went down to the final two minutes.
Contact Sports Editor Rob Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org