Hillsboro's Caleb Crawford and Brad Miller battle for possession with Blanchester in their game Wednesday at Hillsboro. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Hillsboro's Caleb Crawford and Brad Miller battle for possession with Blanchester in their game Wednesday at Hillsboro. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
The Blanchester Wildcats came into their game against the Hillsboro Indians with just one loss on the season, and though that remained the same after they defeated the host Indians, 65-62, the Indians didn’t let the Wildcats have anything in the non-conference game.

Hillsboro (9-13) battled tough against the rising 20-1 Wildcats in front of a standing-room-only gym at Hillsboro High School, as the largest crowd of the season was given an excellent display of basketball by both neighboring county foes.

“Our guys fought hard, but it just wasn’t our night,” HHS head coach Miles Burton said. “We needed one possession, and unfortunately that has been our story this season. (Blanchester) is a good team, a 20-win regular-season team, and we were right there. It is encouraging that we were right there, but it is also frustrating because you want to turn the corner and want this to be a W.

“It wasn’t for our effort, but it was executing on one more possession, one more stop, one more shot and we are walking out here on the different side. We kept fighting and kept fighting, but again, it was one possession. By the way, the crowd was awesome tonight. Thank you to all the students and fans for coming out tonight.”

Blanchester’s Braden Roy was first to score with a jumper, and Brayden Sipple was next in the scoring column for the Wildcats with a full-court drive to the hoop with 5:49 on the first-quarter clock and a 4-0 lead.

Entering the non-conference game, the highly scouted Sipple was averaging 34.3 points per game, but the Indians defense held him to a season-low 13 points, as this was the first time all season any team held the junior standout to under 26 points in a game. Sipple has scored over 1,800 points in his first three varsity seasons.

In more first-quarter game action, the Indians scored their first points of the game with a basket from Caleb Crawford with two points in the paint, but the Wildcats built an 8-2 lead as the Indians called a timeout with 3:45 on the clock. Crawford led HHS with 18 points.

After the timeout, the Indians began to have smoother plays with a 3-pointer by Hunter Price, and after BHS took a five-point lead, Quintin Captain sank a 3-pointer of his own for the Tribe. Next, the Indians tied the score at 10-10 with another two points by Price with 2:01 on the clock.

Blanchester grabbed the lead back with two made free throws by Sipple, only to see Crawford equal the feat with 17.3 left in the first for a 12-12 tied score when the scoreboard clock read all zeros.

Just like in the opening frame, the second quarter for the Wildcats began with four straight points as they extended their lead to 17-12 with 6:35 left before halftime. The Indians repeated their early first-quarter answer with two points by Crawford, only to see the Wildcats score two more points in the paint.

Crawford hit a jumper to bring the Indians back to within three points of tying the score, but BHS answered with five straight points, including a 3-pointer from Jackson Waialae (who totaled 14 points), putting the Indians behind by eight points.

Price battled back with two points for the host Hillsboro squad, but two points by Jay Ashcraft added to the lead of Blanchester. The Indians responded with two straight baskets by Captain, making it a four-point deficit, but the Wildcats ended the second frame with two points by Ashcraft and a 28-22 lead.

Though BHS opened the third frame with a put-back bucket by Ashcraft, the Indians came back with a counter punch of a 3-pointer from Ryan Scott, later followed by two points from the free-throw line by Brad Miller.

Scott helped HHS with 17 points (all in the second half) and was followed in the scoring column by Price with 12 points.

The Wildcats eventually built a 10-0 point lead with seven points in a two-minute span, but that was halted with three made free throws during a trip to the line by Scott with 3:18 remaining in the third frame for a 37-30 deficit for the home team.

Eventually the quarter neared a close with a 3-pointer from Scott, bringing the Indians back to within six points of tying Blanchester’s score at 43-37.

The Indians trailed by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter with 6:48 left in regulation, and later around the 5:00 mark. The Indians continued to fight back with four straight points by Miller and a layup from Scott for a 53-46 score. Tanner Creager of Blanchester came back with a vengeance as he scored five straight points for the away team, and in doing so made it an 11-point lead for the nearly undefeated Wildcats.

Creager led the Wildcats with 21 points.

HHS scored the next five points with a basket by Crawford and a 3-pointer from Scott, and later with 59 seconds left in the game Price sank a big 3-pointer for HHS with the assist off a pass by Captain. Blanchester was then called for an offensive foul, and though as the quarter continued they added two points from the free-throw line, HHS had points in the paint by Crawford, and two final points at the buzzer by Lawton Parry proved to be just not enough for the Indians.