Boys basketball: Russia dominates Newton, advances to second straight district final

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TROY — Russia completed its tournament run through Troy High School with another running-clock win on Friday. The victory earned the Raiders a spot in a district final for the second straight year.

Russia pushed its lead to 37 points by halftime, played with a running clock the entire second half and beat Newton 63-16 in a Division IV district semifinal at Troy’s Trojan Activities Center.

Russia (24-1), which is the Dayton D-IV sectional’s No. 4 seed, started postseason play with a 65-30 win over Yellow Springs last Friday and beat Tri-County North 82-15 in a sectional final on Tuesday.

“The kids were phenomenal,” Russia coach Spencer Cordonnier said. “They were locked in, starting on Wednesday when we went over the scouting report. They came out, and I would say the executed just fine tonight.”

The Indians scored the first basket but didn’t score again until midway through the second quarter. The Raiders scored 29 straight points and pushed the margin to 46-9 at halftime, which ensured the second half would start with a running clock.

“We’ve picked up our intensity on defense,” Russia senior guard Brayden Monnin said. “We were pressuring them and getting a lot of turnovers. We go as our defense goes. Our defense is our best offense, and we were getting a lot of points off that at the beginning.”

Russia’s full-court press flustered the Indians throughout the first half. Newton finished with over 20 turnovers, and Russia, which has five players between 6-foot-4 and 6-6, blocked more than five shots.

“I thought if we could be there on the catch, our length would pose an issue, and it did,” Cordonnier said.

The Raiders played all 15 players they dressed, eight of which played three or more quarters. Monnin said the depth the team has helps it keep up the pressure.

“The first quarter, they were keeping me in, and I was like, ‘I need a sub,’” Monnin said. “We have three, four guys who come off the bench, and that helps us a lot.”

Cordonnier said the lopsided sectional results at Troy allowed the squad to play its bench players more.

“We’re tying to get our eight and nine guys more acclimated and on the floor more,” Cordonnier said. “We’re getting them on the floor the first half and getting them some meaningful minutes. The more bodies we have that we can put out there, the better.

“These guys, they’re all very, very close, and they want everyone on the team to succeed, just like they want themselves to.”

Monnin said it was fun to get to see junior varsity players score the last three games, including sophomore guard Cooper Unverferth, who is playing varsity for the first time.

“He came in and hit a shot (in the fourth quarter), and he got us all excited,” Monnin said.

Hayden Quinter led the Raiders with 14 points. Monnin scored 12, Benjamin York and Braylon Cordonnier each scored seven and Jaxon Grogean scored six.

“Our kids are very good at locking into what we want to do and being disciplined defensively, and offensively, just share the basketball,” Spencer Cordonnier said. “They just share it so well.”

Russia, which was ranked No. 2 in the final state Associated Press D-IV poll of the year, will face an opponent to be determined in a district final on Saturday, March 9, at University of Dayton Arena. The contest is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m., but the starting time may change.

Newton, which was the sectional’s No. 11 seed, finishes 15-10 overall. The Indians, which finished seventh in the Western Ohio Athletic Conference, will lose five seniors to graduation, including guard Quinn Peters, who averaged 18.4 points per game. He scored four on Friday.

“I told their head coach after the game they aren’t any slouch,” Cordonnier said. “They had a nice season and some big wins here late.

“As Peters go, they go. That was our number one priority tonight.”

Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

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Bryant Billing has worked as the sports editor of the Sidney Daily News since 2017. He worked as a reporter and later as an editor for a weekly newspaper in Springfield from 2007 to 2012, managed a Springfield-based website called TopBillingSports.com from 2012 to 2016 and then worked as a freelancer for Cox Media Group Ohio newspapers (including the Dayton Daily News) from 2016 to 2017 before joining the SDN.

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