NEW RICHMOND, Ohio — Entering Tuesday, the Southern Buckeye Conference featured just two programs that have yet to see defeat inside of the conference. But that all changed when those same two programs met toe-to-toe on the hardwood last night.
The Lions were off and running out of the gate thanks to the widespread contributions from a few of their starters. New Richmond got six points a piece from three different guys — sophomore Justin Ackerman, junior Will Hess, and freshman Evan Ipsaro. Production from the three helped combat an eight point frame from Clermont Northeastern junior Skyler Schmidt, the second highest scorer in the conference, and the Lions led 22-11 after one.
It was more of the same in the second quarter for both teams. Schmidt pushed his total out to 15 points with the second half still to go. However, for New Richmond, Ackerman relived his performance from the initial period as he dropped in another six points to push his total up to 12 at the break. The Lions also got a boost from junior forward John Ipsaro with 7 points in the quarter and he helped extend their led on the Rockets by a count of 41-24.
With a 17 point deficit staring them in the face, Clermont Northeastern got a massive lift from their two top scorers on the year. Sophomore guard Bryce Reece, who was held to just three points in the first half, got going with 6 points in the third. Schmidt continued to give the Lions fits, especially on the glass, and his 11 point period helped cut the New Richmond lead to just 7 with 8 minutes remaining.
With their backs against the wall now, Schmidt aimed to put the Rockets on his back and he nearly pulled it off. The junior standout filled it up again in the fourth with a 12 point frame. He had 23 points in the second half alone. However, thanks to some clutch free throws down the stretch from the young Evan Ipsaro, New Richmond withstood the Clermont Northeastern rally and was able to walk away victorious in this one, 66-61.
The win for the Lions moves them to 9-3 overall on the season and 5-0 in the conference. New Richmond will be back in action on Friday against Western Brown on the road.
The Rockets, despite the loss, have little reason to hang their heads. It was just the second loss of the season for them and they still stand a top the national division. However, the battle between them and Blanchester is shaping up to be a good one as we head down the stretch. Next up for Clermont Northeastern is a home game against Georgetown.
For the Lions, sophomore forward Justin Ackerman led the way with an impressive 18 point, 13 rebound night. Freshman Evan Ipsaro also eclipsed double figures with 14 points in the contest.
For the Rockets, Skyler Schmidt was nothing other than sensational. He finished with 38 points and 23 rebounds. It was the single most impressive performance that I’ve seen in person so far this year. Sophomore Bryce Reece also pitched in for Clermont Northeastern with 11 points.