FORT LORAMIE — Fort Loramie has enjoyed tournament success against Russia the last two years but has been frustrated in regular season play.
The regular season frustration ended on Friday. The Redskins amassed a 10-point halftime lead against the Raiders and continued a solid defensive effort in the second half to secure a 47-32 win in front of a near-capacity gym.
Russia has won the SCAL the last four seasons. In both of the last two seasons, the Raiders beat Fort Loramie twice in regular season play but lost to the Redskins in sectional finals.
Before Friday, Fort Loramie hadn’t beat Russia in regular season since Jan. 25, 2013.
“They’ve been the kings of it,” Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton said of Russia. “That was eight in a row (in regular season) we lost. I think outside of one game, though, it’s not been outside of five points. We’ve had our chances and just haven’t been able to capitalize. Tonight, we were able to capitalize on them.”
Loramie’s defensive pressure was a big reason why the team was able to capitalize on Friday’s chance. Though Russia found a few open 3’s in the game, Loramie’s players were practically glued to Russia throughout the game on defense.
The output was the smallest of the year for Russia, which averaged 51.2 points through its first 10 games. The Raiders scored 16 points in each half Friday.
“I thought our kids did a great job of communicating on some things tonight,” Britton said. “… I thought in the second half, we did a much better job communicating. We talked on our screens, had active hands and got some deflections. The biggest difference I thought in the second half is that we rebounded the ball better than we did in the first half and limited them to one-shot possessions.”
Rebounding well has been a hit-or-miss area for Loramie this year, but Britton said he was pleased how the team was able to play in the post.
Though Fort Loramie had the tallest player on the court in 6-foot-7 senior center Tyler Siegel, the team doesn’t have another player over 6-2. Russia has four players between 6-3 and 6-5.
“We knew that was going to be a battle for us,” Britton said. “Take Tyler out of the game, they’ve got the size matchup on their side. They’re huge, they’re long, and they’re really athletic and well-coached. We knew we had take care of the basketball, make ball-fakes and take what our advantages give us.”
The Redskins put the game away by starting the third quarter on a 9-2 run. Nick Brandewie hit a basket with 6:07 left, then Austin Siegel followed about 30 seconds later with a shot off the glass that extended the lead to 35-18.
Russia didn’t cut Loramie’s lead any smaller than 12 points in the final 12 minutes.
“Defensively, we did what we needed to do,” Russia coach Spencer Cordonnier said. “Our trouble was just scoring points. They (Fort Loramie) guard very, very well …We knew it was going to be difficult, but I think we made it difficult on ourselves. We had some timely turnovers and just didn’t execute on offense like we needed to.”
Fort Loramie is in first place in the Shelby County Athletic League with the win. Loramie (10-0) has a 5-0 league record while Russia (7-4) is 5-1 after Friday’s game. Anna, which beat Fairlawn 73-59 Friday, is close behind with a 4-1 league record. Jackson Center, Botkins, Fairlawn and Houston all have three or more league losses.
Tyler Siegel led the Redskins with 11 points while Evan Berning added 10. Daniel Kearns led Russia with 10 while Jack Dapore added nine.
Tyler Siegel and Austin Siegel opened the game with baskets in the first three minutes to give Fort Loramie a 4-0 lead, but the Raiders responded with a 6-1 run over the next 2:30 to take a one-point lead.
The Redskins finished with a flurry of baskets in the last 100 seconds of the quarter. Evan Berning hit a shot with 1:38 left, then Eli Rosengarten hit a 3-pointer from the left corner and followed with a free throw after the foul to put Fort Loramie up 11-6. Berning added an inside basket with 43 seconds left to boost the lead to seven points.
Jack Dapore hit two open 3-pointers over a 30-second span in the middle of the second to cut Fort Loramie’s lead to 18-14, but Dillon Braun hit a 3-pointer after a free throw from Tyler Siegel to boost the advantage to eight points.
Tyler Siegel hit a shot off the glass with 16 seconds left and followed with a free throw to give the Redskins a 26-16 halftime lead.
“We were actually really disappointed at halftime,” Britton said. “They had 16 points, but we gave them six points with two 3-pointers from the Dapore kid after defensive breakdowns. He’s one of the best shooters in the league, and we can’t have breakdowns like that.”
Leaving shooters open wouldn’t be a wise strategy for Loramie against its next two opponents. The Redskins travel to Versailles (9-0) for a nonconference game on Tuesday and then host Anna (8-2) on Friday in an SCAL game. Anna averages 71.5 points per game, while Versailles averages 64.6.
Though Britton said the win would be celebrated on Friday night, he said it’s just one step toward the team’s quest for an SCAL title. Fort Loramie wasn’t won the league since 2004.
“It’s no bigger win then our next game,” Britton said. “We’ve got to go back to work Monday morning and get ready for the next one.
“It’s a process. We don’t even talk about it. We just want to go one practice at a time, one game at a time. If we progress and get better day in and day out, we think we have a chance to be pretty good and competitive. That’s all we ask for. We just want compete and be there in the last four minutes.”
Cordonnier hopes the loss will be an offensive lesson for Russia’s players.
“We don’t light the scoreboard up by any means,” Cordonnier said. “If we don’t execute and get (our shooters) in a position to score, it’s going to be a long night. …Jack (Dapore) knocked some down but had four or five other looks in the first half that didn’t go down. Jordan York had a couple looks that didn’t go down.
“You don’t make shots, you look bad. Offensively, we didn’t look very good, partly because we didn’t execute very well and knock down shots. And it’s tough to score on them inside with Siegel down there, but we knew that. That doesn’t mean you don’t throw the ball in there. We’ve got to get better ball movement when we play these better defensive teams.”
Russia travels to Houston next Friday for an SCAL game.
“We’ve got a lot of really good teams left on our schedule, and we’ve got to execute better,” Cordonnier said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Fort Loramie will travel to Russia for an SCAL game on Feb. 16.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.