The top spot in the Shelby County Athletic League is on the line Friday night as the Jackson Center boys aim to upend Russia, a one-point winner over the Tigers back on Nov. 25 at the Raiders’ gym.
Jackson Center is currently 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the SCAL. Russia is 10-0 and 5-0, after a 47-30 pasting of Fort Loramie on Tuesday. The Tigers own a 50-42 victory over the Redskins on December 13.
Expect both Russia and Jackson Center to secure lofty rankings in the first statewide Division IV basketball poll next week. Each club is deep, talented and very well-coached. Both squads exhibit tenacious defense which makes the opposition earn every single point at the offensive end.
A sell-out crowd may witness this evening’s 7:30 p.m. tipoff at the lair of the Tigers. Arrive early to get a seat, school officials have announced.
ScoresBroadcast.com will carry the contest with the pregame starting at 6:55. Jack Kramer and Chuck McBee are on the call.
Raiders and Tigers sharpshooters hoisted home plenty of three-point jumpers in that first meeting. Russia buried three triples in the fourth quarter on consecutive possessions to help wipe out an eleven point deficit in route to the thrilling 42-41 triumph. Xavier Phlipot, Brayden Monnin and Ross Fiessinger fired in bombs for the Raiders.
Jackson Center had opened up a big cushion in the third period after a Bryson Roberts long ball and two more by Jace Mullenhour. The Tigers streaked to a 34-23 advantage after 24 minutes before the furious Russia rally.
Phlipot and Hayden Quinter paced Russia with 11. Mullenhour tallied 19 and Nolan Fark added nine more to lead Jackson Center.
Both teams played excellent defense in that Thanksgiving weekend duel. The Tigers totaled only 20 points over three periods of the game. Russia mustered only one field goal in the third quarter.
The game ended, with the crowd roaring, as the Tigers’ hasty three-point shot skidded off the rim. Expect similar fireworks tonight to kick off 2023 and the second part of the SCAL campaign.
ScoresBroadcast.com anticipates an enormous listening audience this evening. The free-online service has been present for numerous Tigers-Raiders battles over the years. In fact, the first hoops contest ever covered by SCORES, the Shelby County Online Radio Entertainment System, was a Russia-Jackson Center match-up in December 2006, won by the Raiders.
Russia was a terrific 21-2 that year and earned the SCAL title with an 11-1 mark, losing for the first time late in the regular season to Botkins in overtime. In the D-IV sectional final at Piqua, the Raiders were upset by Houston, which fell in the regional to eventual state champ Georgetown.
Jackson Center had reeled off nine straight over Russia until the Raiders sneaked past the Tigers in this year’s opener. The Tigers took a tight 48-47 tilt over Russia last year.
Russia is averaging a 27-point winning margin so far during the 2022-2023 campaign.