Sports Scene: Regional finals didn’t lack drama, but lacked scoring


If you told me Jackson Center and Russia’s boys Division IV regional final would be lower scoring than Fort Loramie and Tri-Village’s girls regional final the week before, I would have probably asked if you had seen either the Tigers or Raiders play this year.

Russia and Jackson Center are not like their lower-scoring, more methodical 2019-20 squads, which played to a 24-12 result in a stall-ball sectional final that drew attention from across the nation on social media.

Russia had reached at least the 60’s in over half its games this season, and Jackson Center had reached at least the 50’s in about two thirds of its games.

The teams scored their lowest amounts of the season by a good margin in the regional final, though, and scored much less than either of the two Shelby County Athletic League regular-season matchups they had. Russia held on to win 27-25 and earn its first state berth in 20 years.

The squads’ tough defenses had something to do with the low score. But both the Raiders and Tigers missed a boatload of shots they normally make.

I filled in for play-by-play duties on for the contest, and color commentator Chuck McBee was about at a loss for words as the teams struggled to score in the fourth quarter. “I can’t tell you what they’re doing differently,” he said at one point when it came to the shooting struggles.

The Raiders shot 10 for 32 (31 percent) from the floor, including 2 for 15 (13 percent) in the second half. Jackson Center shot 8 for 37 (21 percent), including 4 for 21 (19 percent) in the first half.

Russia could have secured the game late, but it shot 1 for 7 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

Whatever the reason the bunnies and other easier shots didn’t fall, the game didn’t lack for drama, as Jackson Center mounted a comeback attempt in the fourth quarter.

It ended up coming down to a last-second shot, which, like most of the shots on the night, hit off the rim.

Tri-Village and Fort Loramie’s regional final the week before also ended with a shot off the rim, an appropriate end after a game full of shots rimming out. They each shot less than 30 percent from the floor, and they were a combined 6-of-17 from the free-throw line in the Patriots’ 32-30 win.

The offensive struggles weren’t limited to Southwest Ohio.

Crestview beat Marion Local 41-40 in a boys regional final last weekend in Bowling Green. While the score is more in line with what’d you expect, given the way those squads play, neither shot well.

The Flyers built a 13-0 lead through the first four and a half minutes but managed to score just seven points the rest of the first half. They led 17-3 but were outscored 38-23 the rest of the way, with the Knights hitting a late free throw to break a tie and win.

After that hot start, the Flyers’ shooing was poor the rest of the night. They finished 13 for 37 (35 percent) from the floor, while Crestview finished 13 for 31 (41 percent).

Marion Local shot 5-of-14 from the free-throw line on the night. The Knights made 5-of-11… in the fourth quarter.

While the shooting may not have been the best, all three of the games came down to the final seconds. What more can you want from tournament basketball?

Billing has been the sports editor of the Sidney Daily News since 2017. He can be reached at [email protected].

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