RUSSIA — Russia and Sidney are without their top scorers from last year. If Friday’s season opener was any indication, Russia has absorbed the loss better.
The Raiders pulled out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 47-29 victory over Sidney in a nonconference game.
Russia finished 21-6 and won a district title last season but are without leading scorer Maria Herron, who graduated. Herron was the Shelby County Athletic League player of the year and averaged of 12.6 points per game.
Russia’s returning players ran the offense with relative ease against Sidney. After building an 11-point lead by halftime, the Raiders started the third quarter on a 14-4 run and led 41-22 at the end of the third quarter.
“We had a lot of girls step up and hit shots,” Russia coach Andy Timmerman said. “We were facing the zone, which is not what we face in practice, and being the first game of year there’s not much film on them or anything to scout. I thought our girls did a good job getting good ball movement, cutting to the open spots and reading the defense.”
Two of the Raiders’ returning starters led the team in scoring. Junior forward Laurissa Poling and senior guard Whitney Pleiman each scored 10 points, Jenna Cordonnier added eight and Ashley Scott scored seven. Four other Russia players scored in the game.
“That’s always awesome to have a bunch of different scorers,” Timmerman said. “If one person’s having an off night, the next person can just step up.”
Timmerman was especially pleased with the performance since Russia had been dealing with injuries. Cameo Wilson, a senior forward who is also a returning starter, suffered an injury in Russia’s last volleyball game. She played on Friday, and Timmerman said she’s still working to fully recover.
Timmerman also said Poling and Cordonnier were also recovering from ankle injuries.
Sidney, which lost all-time leading scorer Celena Taborn to graduation, struggled both in shooting and in rebounding. Alina Kindle led the Yellow Jackets with 11 points, while Maddie White had eight.
Russia scored the first four points of the game, then White made a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one.
Pleiman made a pair of free throws and a long jumper to give Russia an 8-3 lead. Scott scored on a put-back, then Cordonnier added back-to-back baskets to extend the lead to 14-3.
Sidney went on a run early in the second quarter to cut the deficit. After Skyana Johnson added a basket for Sidney in the last 30 seconds of the first quarter to pull within 14-5, the Yellow Jackets scored two of the first three baskets in the second to pull within 16-10.
Russia went on a 9-4 run over the last four minutes of the second to take a 25-14 lead, which was the score at halftime.
Sidney returns to action on Saturday night at Lehman Catholic. Russia plays next on Tuesday at home against Houston.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.