By Josh Brown
CLAYTON — When it came to their second-round game against No. 9 Stivers, the fifth-seeded Bethel Bees had heard the talk.
They just didn’t listen.
Bethel (16-7) took care of business against a better-than-its-record Stivers team Tuesday night, taking control and then shooting better than 80 percent from the free throw line to maintain it in a 61-56 victory in the Division III sectional semifinals Tuesday at Northmont High School.
“My kids played their tails off tonight,” Bethel boys basketball coach Brett Kopp said. “They’d heard the rumblings throughout the area, people saying that they should probably lose to Stivers. And they just weren’t having it. There were a lot of ties in the game, but for the most part we kept control of the lead. The guys just battled.
“We lost to them by 18 a week and a half ago. But we came back and won by five tonight. It’s a testament to the week of practice we had, how hard the kids worked.”
Caleb South led the Bees with a game-high 30 points, adding five rebounds and four assists. He was also 10 for 10 from the free throw line as Bethel went 22 for 27 (81.4 percent) as a team. Stivers (13-11), on the other hand, was 8 for 19.
“That was the difference in the game,” Kopp said. “After the Newton game, even during it, we struggled to shoot well from the line. We made that a point of emphasis, and tonight the kids were focused and won the game. And it was every single person on the floor, too. It was a total team effort across the board.”
Tyler Terry added 15 points and five rebounds, Ian Anderson and Evan Hawthorn both had five points and six rebounds and Jacob Evans and Nate Rimkus each added three points.
Cody Boddie led Stivers with 21 points, Andre Hawes had 18 and Isaiah Williams scored 15.
Bethel faces fourth-seeded West-Liberty Salem at 8 p.m. Saturday at Northmont in the sectional championship game.
Piqua 56, Greenville 53
CENTERVILLE — The Piqua Indians reached their first sectional final since the 2006-07 season, rallying to defeat division rival Greenville 56-53 in the Division I sectional semifinal Tuesday night at Centerville.
Colton Bachman led No. 11 Piqua (14-10) with 22 points, Bradley Hohlbein added 19 and Nate Monnin had eight points and eight rebounds.
Clay Guillozet scored a game-high 25 points for 10th-seeded Greenville, which finished the season 13-11.
Piqua advances to play No. 1 Wayne Friday night for the sectional championship.
Russia 70, Lehman 33
PIQUA — The second-seeded Russia Raiders had little trouble in the Division IV sectional semifinal round Tuesday night, defeating No. 12 Lehman 70-33 to advance.
Jack Dapore scored 16 points and Jack Gariety added 14 for the Raiders (21-3), who move on the face Fort Loramie in Friday night’s sectional title game.
Michael Bunker had 14 points to lead the Cavaliers, whose season ended at 4-19.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.