Two of the hottest boys basketball teams in the region engage in an early season Shelby County Athletic League showdown on Tuesday night.
ScoresBroadcast.com and WMVR, 105.5 TAM FM, provide the play-by-play of Botkins (4-0) versus Fort Loramie (5-1) from the Trojans gym. Air time is set for 7 p.m.
The sample size is small. But both squads are limiting their opponents to scoring well below 40 points per game. Botkins is allowing 33 per contest; Fort Loramie, 36. The Trojans are averaging 47 per outing; the Redskins, 48. So, Tuesday is a toss-up!
The defending state champion Botkins Trojans made a name for themselves defensively last season. They finished up a great 26-3 year by choking off the offensive output of Richmond Heights and Columbus Grove in the state semifinal and state championship games in March. Heights scored only 40, more than 30 points below its per-game average. Grove tallied 44, close to 20 points under its per-game mark.
In only two of 16 quarters of play in this new season has the opposition hit double-digits in points against Botkins. Jackson Center produced only 24 points total in the season opener at Botkins.
Offensively, the Trojans are shooting nearly 60 percent on their two-point tries. Jacob and Carter Pleiman have combined for about 30 points per game. Guard Jameson Meyer drained 15 last Friday versus Parkway.
Fort Loramie struggled shooting in its opener against Russia in November and dropped a 36-22 tilt. But the Redskins have poured in points at a clip of 57 per contest over the last four. A quartet of players — Caleb Maurer, Ryan Hoelscher, Logan Eilerman, and Ty Ruhenkamp — buried 3-pointers in one game over the weekend. Maurer exploded for 24 points on Saturday.
On that night, the Redskins restricted New Bremen to a total of 41, blanked the Cardinals during the last three minutes of the game, and gave up only 31 points to the visitors over the final 30 minutes.
On Friday, Fort Loramie stymied Anna’s McKane Finkenbine, who was under 40 percent from the floor, and held his teammates to a grand total of only 13 points for the evening.
Unbeaten Russia, 4-0 overall and 3-0 in league play, is also off to a hot start and hosts Jackson Center on Friday. The Raiders do not meet Botkins for the first time until Jan. 18 and will have played Fort Loramie both home and away before this initial clash with the Trojans.
It’s very early. And time will tell, for sure. But, at this point, the front-runners for the SCAL crown appear to be the Trojans, Raiders and Redskins.