CENTERVILLE — With leading scorer Jacob Pleiman being held in check, his teammates came alive in the second half to lift Botkins to a 61-57 win over Springfield Shawnee on Sunday at the Centerville Showcase.
Pleiman scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the first half before being double- and triple-teamed by the Braves during the final 16 minutes.
The Trojans trailed 54-50 with 5½ minutes left until Jaydon Wendel buried the last of his four 3-pointers and a layup from Dylan Topp gave Botkins a one-point lead. A backdoor layup from Carter Pleiman with 2:01 remaining capped a 7-0 Trojans' run and handed BHS a 57-54 advantage.
Shawnee shot itself out of the game, going 1 of 5 from the 3-point line during the final 3:12. R.J. Griffith's 3-pointer with 1:24 to play tied the game at 57, but were the final points the Braves scored.
A layup from Topp (six points) and two free throws from Jameson Meyer (14 points) in the final 71 seconds sealed Botkins' four-point win.
“We just wanted to keep sharing the basketball,” BHS coach Phil Groves said. “One of the great things about our team is that we don't have one person who always leads us. Jacob did a great job in the first half and in the second, but we have five guys on the floor that can step and knock down open shots, defend and get key rebounds when we need them.”
The defending OHSAA Division IV state champion Trojans (7-0 overall) defeated the Braves (6-1), who reached an OHSAA Division III regional final last season, where they fell 63-39 to Cincinnati Taft in the Region 12 championship.
“Games like this really prepare you for the tournament,” Groves said. “I like today — even on a Sunday afternoon — that I felt like a tournament-type atmosphere. And let's be realistic, Shawnee is a really good team. To play a quality opponent in your non-league schedule makes us better in the log run.”
Jacob Pleiman said Sunday's win was a big one.
“It means a lot because we have been thinking about this game for a while,” Pleiman said. “We knew this was going to be a big game. It's a great opportunity Centerville gave us to play against a great team. They played well. They played hard and made some shots. It was a great game until the end.”
Botkins led 21-14 after one quarter and 36-28 at halftime as Jacob Pleiman led the way. After a 3-pointer and layup by Patrick Fultz trimmed Shawnee's deficit to two points (21-19) in the second quarter, Jacob Pleiman carried the Trojans with seven consecutive points and Carter Pleiman's layup in transition put Botkins ahead 30-22 with 3:55 left in the first half.
Carter Pleiman finished with seven points.
Zion Crowe, who had 20 points for Shawnee, hit two free throws to make it a 34-28 BHS advantage with 1:25 left before halftime. But Jacob Pleiman hit two free throws to give the Trojans an eight-point lead at the break.
The Braves used a 12-3 run to begin the third quarter — capped by a 3-pointer from Crowe — to take a 40-39 lead at the 4:16 mark. But Botkins answered with a layup from Elijah Stewart, two free throws from Jacob Pleiman and a 3-pointer from Wendel (12 points) to go in front 46-40 with 2:09 left in the third.
Shawnee roared back behind Patrick Fultz (21 points) and Crowe. Fultz scored in transition and made a 3-pointer before Crowe's layup handed the Braves a 47-46 lead. But Carter Pleiman made 1 of 2 free throws with 31 seconds left in the third quarter, lifting Botkins into a 47-all tie after 24 minutes.
“We knew — a team as talented as Shawnee is — that they have some shooters who can put the ball in the basket,” Groves said. “We knew they would make their runs and we would make our runs. When they hit us in the mouth and made a big run in the fourth quarter, we weathered the storm because our kids handled the adversity well. I can't be more proud of our kids today because they really came out and performed.”