By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
PIQUA — The schedule maker never does the Piqua boys basketball team any favors to start the season.
And this year was no exception.
The Indians faced a strong Vandalia-Butler team in the season opener Tuesday at Garbry Gymnasium and dropped a 71-43 decision.
“You know, we opened with Vandalia and Wapakoneta two years ago, and they both won 20 games,” Piqua coach Steve Grasso said. “Last year, we opened with Vandalia and they won 20 games and shared the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North title. They have some different players this year, but they are still a very good team.”
Grasso wanted to make sure his team was aware of that.
“I just spent some time in there (the locker room) just making sure the kids understood that,” Grasso said. “Our season is not going to be defined by this game.”
Not that there weren’t some positive moments for the Indians.
With Tyler Montague, Matthew Beverly and Quinton Hall combined for 12 first quarter points, Butler opened a 15-2 lead late in the quarter.
But after a free throw by Kameron Darner, two baskets by Riley Hill and a 3-pointer by Devon Sever in the closing seconds of the quarter, Piqua was back within 17-11.
Hunt had seven of Piqua’s 11 points in the opening quarter.
“It is the first time we have really had Riley (Hill) healthy,” Grasso said. “He has always been bothered by injuries. So it was great to see him get the season off to a good start.”
But Piqua could never sustain that momentum.
Vandalia opened the lead to 35-15 at halftime and despite two 3-pointers by Garrett Schrubb in the third quarter and one each from Keagan Patton, Butler still led 51-31 at the end of three quarters.
“Two of the things we talked about that were going to be important were limiting turnovers and not giving up points in transition,” Grasso said. “We definitely lost those battles tonight. They were able to get some easy baskets off turnovers and hurt us in the transition game.”
Hill would lead Piqua with 11 points and Schrubb added eight.
Montague led Butler with 22 points.
Cooper Justice scored 11, Nick Smith had nine and Hall and Beverly both scored eight.
Now, Piqua prepares to play the other co-GWOC North champion from a year ago. Sidney will visit in a boys/girls doubleheader Friday night.
“Again, we now face the other co-champion from last year,” Grasso said. “We look forward to getting in the gym, working hard to make inprovements the next two days. Friday game is a rivalry and it should be played with a lot of intensity.”
The freshman boys game will be at 4:30 p.m. Friday, followed by the girls varsity and boys varsity games. The JV games will be played on Saturday.
And just like Tuesday, it will be another early-season challenge for the Piqua boys.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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