Would you like an appetizer before Turkey Day? Tuesday night girls hoops promises to serve up a real treat to an enormous crowd at the Fort Loramie gymnasium as the defending Div. IV state champion Redskins (1-0) play host to the tall and talented Russia Raiders (2-0) in a basketball headliner.
These co-favorites for the Shelby County Athletic League title go head-to-head in the first of a pair of battles this season, which tips off at approximately 7:30 p.m. Tuesday’s winner gets a jump start on the other serious league contender before the calendar reaches December. Russia and Fort Loramie open the second round of league play at Russia on Jan. 6.
ScoresBroadcast.com is on the air with the pre-game at 7 p.m. WMVR, 105.5 TAM FM, simulcasts. Interviews in the first segment of the broadcast feature Carla Siegel, 23-year head coach at Fort Loramie, and Paul Bremigan, who coached boys basketball at Russia for 31 years and boys hoops at Troy for five more. This is Bremigan’s first season guiding the Raiders girls program.
At first look, the “numbers” may be in Russia’s favor. Three girls attired in the blue and gold tonight will measure at least six feet tall. Two more stand 5-11. Ella Hoehne, an even six footer, poured in 25 and 13 points, respectively, in Russia’s first two contests.
Last Friday the Raiders pulled away in the second half at Sidney to win 66-56. On Saturday, the Raiders handled Minster, 57-30, at Russia. Russia filled the nets with 72 total points in the second halves of the triumphs. The Raiders return numerous girls who logged significant varsity playing time one year ago.
Meanwhile the Redskins, who last spring graduated more than 50 points of their per-game average of 62 in the 2020-21 season, raced to a 50-24 opening night victory over Miami East on Friday. Ava Turner, a junior, tallied 14 to pace Fort Loramie. Four freshmen and sophomores recorded 40 percent of the team’s points.
At the same time, the Redskins’ roster, one of the shortest Fort Loramie has ever assembled, includes only one player exceeding 5-10.
However, the “numbers,” reflecting wins and losses by the two teams in their long series of hoops contests, are in Fort Loramie’s favor. The Redskins have won six straight over Russia by an average spread of more than 30 points, and have taken 16 of the last 20 dating back to the 2012-13 campaign.
Late in the 2017-18 season, Russia thumped Fort Loramie, 47-35, after Fort Loramie won the first meeting by six. In 2016-17, the Redskins were swept by the Raiders in a three-game series.
So, except for those two back-to-back years, the recent rivalry’s upper hand has been held by Fort Loramie. The Redskins, thus, ride the wave of history heading into Tuesday’s tilt, the first of two between the schools.
“Is Tuesday’s clash a league championship game in the very first league encounter for both clubs?” Chuck McBee was asked by Jack Kramer at the close of Friday’s Fort Loramie-Miami East broadcast.
“Perhaps it’s the first of ‘two’ league championship contests,” McBee replied.
Although, the rest of the SCAL, including Anna, a regional finalist a year ago, and Botkins, which knocked off Div. III Coldwater last weekend, will have a lot to say about this year’s league race.
It should be interesting, competitive and fun to watch.