Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
GREENFIELD — With just two regular season games remaining, Piketon knows what it has to do in order to be successful.
It’s taken the Redstreaks some time to figure it out, but they’re finally sure.
Simply put, if the Redstreaks (10-10) stick to their given principles and manage to adjust on the fly, they’re going to be a tough out for whomever they match up with in the postseason.
On Tuesday night, in a contest at McClain, Piketon stuck to its principles but was also pushed to the brink by the Tigers (6-14) late in the game.
It was the best of both worlds … the program earned a 46-40 win and learned even more about itself in the process.
“I think that McClain did a good job of exposing our inability to adapt and overcome when the defense switches,” Miller said. “They made a great adjustment going to that zone in the second quarter and then pressuring us as well. But our principles are simple. Our kids do a great job of executing them. Very rarely do we get outside of ourselves or outside of our principles.”
Early in the game, Piketon used its defensive pressure to grab a 17-4 lead.
Levi Gullion and Tyree Harris produced the game’s first scores, making it 4-0, before Chris Chandler beat the first quarter buzzer and scored immediately in the second, pushing the lead to 13-3, before it eventually swelled to 13 points.
McClain’s only scores during the stretch came at the 5:08 mark in the first, via a triple from Bryson Badgley, and the front end of two free throws via Lyle White with 4:40 left in the second.
“[Using defense to create offense], that goes along with our principles and an important part of our defense is our length,” Miller said. “We’ve got multiple guys in that 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-4 range who are athletic.”
However, after that point, the Tigers flipped the script.
Behind Badgley, who decided to carry his teammates on his back for the better part of three and a half quarters, McClain trimmed the deficit to 22-12 at halftime and 29-22 heading to the fourth.
Badgley and White then paired up to cut the lead to just six points at 31-25 with 7:06 remaining. Then, after a bucket from Harris, Piketon’s Brody Fuller hit a 3 with 6:15 to go, making it 36-25.
However, the Tigers refused to go away.
Preston Saunders nailed a triple at the 1:50 mark to make it a 40-35 ballgame before repeating that process with just 26.1 seconds left, making it 44-40.
But down the stretch, the Redstreaks hit their free throws to seal the deal and even their record.
Fuller led Piketon with 12 points while Chandler added 10 of his own. Harris had eight points and six rebounds, Gullion finished with eight points, and Tra Swayne ended the night with five points, five rebounds and four assists.
Badgley led all scorers with 17 points alongside eight boards, White had eight points and five rebounds, and Saunders posted 13 points and five rebounds.
Piketon now looks towards Huntington, which they’ll host Friday, while the Tigers next match up with Western on Saturday.
“We want to continue to build on what we’ve created,” Miller said. “It’s year one for me in this system and, honestly, it’s year one for a lot of these guys as well. A lot of these guys are brand new. So growth is the biggest thing. We want to continue to grow the right way and continue to build on our foundation.”
Piketon: 11-11-7-17 — 46
McClain: 3-9-10-18 — 40
Piketon: 15-34 FG, 13-16 FT, 3-12 3 pt., 21 rebounds (Harris 6), 19 turnovers, 9 assists (Swayne 4). Scoring: Fuller 12, Chandler 10, Harris 8, Gullion 8, Swayne 5, Leedy 3.
McClain: 16-48 FG, 2-6 FT, 6-13 3 pt., 31 rebounds (Badgley 8), 21 turnovers, 4 assists (Clossen 2). Scoring: Badgley 17, Saunders 13, White 8, Bliss 2.