BLANCHESTER – As Blanchester head coach Adam Weber promised, Friday’s game between Blanchester and Bethel-Tate was a slugfest.
Bodies were on the floor and in the stands. Rebounds became scrums under the basket.
In the end, it was Weber’s Wildcats that stood tall, defeating the Tigers 58-48.
“This is three or four in a row where we’re doing some things really well,” Weber said. “I was just very pleased. That was the best box-out team we’ve faced. They can flat-out keep you off the boards.
“We found ways to do other things and get the job done.”
Alec Richardson concluded a stellar week with an outstanding performance. The Blanchester senior guard missed just four shots on the night. As the Tigers clawed back into the game in the fourth quarter, Richardson had an answer.
Blanchester led by 10, 41-31, late in the third. Bethel-Tate pulled within five, 45-40, with 4:48 left in the fourth.
Richardson stopped the run with a three. Dylan Miller followed with a steal and layup to put Blanchester up 10.
Back came the Tigers once again, as Evan Iding and Trenton Weeks hit shots to pull Bethel within 50-45 with 2:15 left.
With Bethel-Tate trapping every pass in the half court, Richardson appeared pinned against the sideline. He dribbled around and through defenders, then fed a no-look pass to Nick Grogg for a layup. Blan led 52-45.
Once again, Bethel was within five, 52-47, with 1:39 left. The Tigers had committed just two fouls in the half, so they had to foul to get the Wildcats to the bonus.
After four consecutive fouls, Richardson took the inbounds pass, drove straight to the basket and laid it in to give Blanchester a 54-47 lead. Richardson and JD Wiederhold closed the game with free throws in the final minute.
On the night, Richardson finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. This caps off a week when he hit the winning shot Saturday at Felicity, then scored 16, 18 and 21 points in wins Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
“His vision and his growth as an offensive player has really shown in the last couple games,” Weber said. “His hesitation, then attack move, then finding the gaps, finding shooters and finding post players has been very fun to watch.
“It really helps too when he hits some of those critical threes at the most pivotal moments.”
Wiederhold had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Weeks led the Tigers with 14 points while Iding finished with 10. Bethel shot just 34 percent (18/53) from the floor while Blanchester shot 48 percent (24/50).
On a night when the Blanchester girls basketball team was honored between the first and second quarters for its league championship season, Weber discussed how that has motivated his team.
“It really helps when your girls program pulls out gutsy win after gutsy win,” Weber said. “It gives you as a community and as a school and a body of students … it’s inspiring. That has helped trigger these guys these last couple of games.”
Blanchester (12-5, 6-3 in SBC) has two remaining regular season games, both at home. The Wildcats host Whiteoak Monday before one final league contest Friday with Georgetown.
Meanwhile, Blanchester is chasing Williamsburg (8-10, 6-2). They defeated Felicity Friday, then they come back with a huge league showdown against Clermont Northeastern Monday. The Rockets are tied with Blanchester for second.
Williamsburg closes its league season Friday against Bethel-Tate. Blanchester must beat Georgetown, and Williamsburg must lose at least one league game for Blan to earn at least a share of the title.
Feb. 5, 2016
@Blanchester High School
Blanchester 58, Bethel-Tate 48
(48) BETHEL-TATE (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Evan Iding 4-1-1-10, Noah Pickleheimer 1-0-3-5, Trenton Weeks 5-4-0-14, Griffin Reinert 2-1-2-7, Jacob Reinhart 1-0-0-2, Jake Stolz 3-0-0-6, Caleb Bastin 2-0-0-4. TOTALS 18-6-6-48.
(58) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Alec Richardson 8-3-2-21, Quenton Miller 2-1-0-5, Dylan Miller 3-0-0-6, Cam Carroll 2-0-0-4, Jordan Stroud 2-0-1-5, Nick Grogg 2-1-0-5, JD Wiederhold 5-0-2-12. TOTALS 24-5-5-58.
FIELD GOALS: BT 18/53 (Weeks 5/19, Iding 4/12, Stolz 3/5); BL 24/50 (Richardson 8/12, Wiederhold 5/8, D. Miller 3/7)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: BT 6/27 (Weeks 4/12); BL 5/15 (Richardson 3/4)
FREE THROWS: BT 6/8 (Pickleheimer 3/4); BL 5/8
REBOUNDS: BL 24 (Wiederhold 11, Richardson 5)
ASSISTS: BL 11 (Richardson 5, D. Miller 4)
STEALS: BL 8 (Richardson 3)
BLOCKED SHOTS: BL 4 (Wiederhold 3)
TURNOVERS: BT 14; BL 8
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @mattsports.