RUSSIA — Fort Loramie had already secured its seventh consecutive Shelby County Athletic League title entering a matchup on Thursday. After losing a regular-season finale at Russia a year ago, the Redskins wanted to avoid a similar result.
The Raiders made it close in the first half on senior night at Clair C. Naveau Gymnasium, but Fort Loramie quickly ran away in the third quarter to earn a 60-37 win.
The Redskins (19-2) finish SCAL play with a 12-0 record, the fifth time in seven years they’ve done so. Their other two finishes in the seven-year stretch have been 11-1, both as a result of late-season losses at Russia.
“We missed a lot of bunny shots early on,” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “… I think some of our players maybe had some ghosts on their shoulders (from last year’s late-season loss at Russia). Hopefully we got rid of that.”
Russia scored the last seven points of the second quarter to pull within 32-26 at halftime. But Fort Loramie shut the Raiders down in the second half. The squad outscored Russia 14-5 in the third and 14-6 in the fourth.
Fort Loramie had 20 steals and forced Russia into 28 turnovers.
“We pressure the ball so much full court that I think we can get caught up in that type of pace on offense, and we don’t need to,” Siegel said. “What we talked about at halftime was, ‘Pressure, pressure, pressure, get steals. But when we get to our offense, if we don’t get the transition basket, take a deep breath, collect ourselves and run our full-court offense.’
“I do believe our half-court offense is pretty good, when we run it. Tonight showed me we need to work on being aggressive yet patient at the same time.”
Fort Loramie junior forward Avery Brandewie led the Redskins with a career-high 24 points and had six rebounds and five assists. She scored 12 points in each half.
“She’s coming around and looking good,” Siegel said of Brandewie, who suffered an ankle injury in a scrimmage. “This is by far her best offensive output in her three years of playing varsity. I can’t say enough about her, because she was going against (Russia senior forward Roni) Poling, who is a phenomenal player.”
Summer Hoying scored 10 points and had five rebounds and four steals. Victoria Mescher added nine points and had seven deflections.
The Redskins, which were again ranked No. 1 in this week’s state Associated Press Division IV poll, have earned a top seed for a sectional tournament for the seventh straight year. This time, though, it was in the new Dayton D-IV super sectional, which includes teams previously assigned to specific sectionals at either Sidney or Versailles High Schools.
The Redskins could choose either location this season and opted to return to Sidney, where they have historically played.
“Sidney’s been good to us, and with this probably being the last year this will happen with the changes coming down the road, let’s go (to Sidney) and finish strong,” Siegel said.
Fort Loramie will wrap up regular-season play by hosting Marion Local on Tuesday.
Russia aiming for long postseason run after strong finish
Russia is hoping Thursday’s matchup with the Redskins won’t be its last this year.
The Raiders are hoping to make a long postseason run after a strong finish to regular season. The squad dropped to 4-7 after a 69-31 loss to Fort Loramie on Jan. 4 but went 8-3 over the last half of the season to enter tournament play 12-10.
Russia has many underclassmen on its roster, and coach Michael Bashore credited the team’s seniors for leading the improvement: Roni Poling, Carley Scott, Laci Phlipot and Jaela Shappie.
“We’ve improved since the last time we played (Fort Loramie),” Bashore, who is in his first year, said. “This was about these four girls. I couldn’t be more proud of them. …They all work really hard. I wouldn’t have been able to have this job and be successful if these four girls hadn’t allowed me to coach them. I’m forever grateful.
“… I love all four of them. They’re four of the best young women I’ve been around. I’m proud to be their coach.”
Poling, a senior forward, is the team’s lone returnee on the court. Scott is a returning letterwiner but has been unable to play due to injury.
The teams arranged for her to take the court on Thursday; she scored a basket in the fourth quarter.
“I talked to my (physical therapist), and he was like, ‘Go for it. You only have one senior night,’” Scott said. “It was a fun experience.”
Phlipot and Shappie, both guards, started on Thursday and said they’ve been proud of the team’s progress.
“It’s awesome to see how the underclassmen have grown,” Shappie said. “They are amazing players. I’m so excited to come back and watch them the next few years.”
Phlipot said players felt they were underdogs this year after the squad lost eight players to graduation from last year’s 22-5 campaign.
“I think we’ve played really well and finished strong,” Phlipot said. “We’re proud.”
Freshman guard Celeste Borchers led the squad with 12 points on Thursday. Poling finished with eight.
Poling said she thinks the squad can make a long postseason run.
“We’ve seen how much we can get better in a short time,” Poling said. “We have a whole week of practice until tournament, and we’re looking to improve ourselves before then.
“I think we can make a great run and meet these girls (Fort Loramie) back at regionals.”
Russia won a district title and advanced to face the Redskins in a regional semifinal last year. The teams could face off in the same round again this year if both advance.
Russia is the No. 7 seed in the Dayton D-IV sectional and will have to beat a few strong opponents to advance.
The Raiders are scheduled to open postseason play by facing the winner of Bellefontaine Calvary Christian and Newton on Feb. 20 at Sidney High School. If victorious in that sectional final matchup, they will likely face No. 3 Covington in a district semifinal on Feb. 26 in Sidney. The Buccaneers beat Russia 44-37 on Dec. 11.
Power outage stops Anna at Botkins in 3rd quarter
Botkins led Anna 23-16 in the third quarter of an SCAL game on Thursday when a power outage at Botkins Athletic Complex forced the game to be postponed.
The contest will be finished at a date to be determined.