Girls basketball: Shappie’s buzzer-beater lifts Russia over Botkins in district final


TROY — Russia players give their coaches cards before each game with funny, non-serious “most likely to,” predictions.

Sophomore guard Faith York said its gets the team in a good mindset.

“It gets us in a funny mood and happy before the game,” York said.

No one predicted Saturday that Addison Shappie would make a short heaver as time expired to win it — and that Shappie wouldn’t even see the shot as it fell in.

But it happened, and it put the squad in an even better mood after a Division IV district final on Saturday.

The Raiders had given up 10 straight points and were tied late with Botkins, but Shappie made a near-miraculous shot as time expired to lift the squad to a 36-34 victory at Troy High School’s Trojan Activities Center.

“I didn’t really see it,” Shappie, a junior guard, said. “I was trying to get a foul. I guess it went in, and I’m lucky.”

Russia senior forward Roni Poling made a basket with 5:19 left in the fourth to push the squad’s lead to 34-24, but the Raiders didn’t score again until the final second.

Botkins slowly came back. Janel Platfoot and Camdyn Paul each made 3-pointers, DeeDee Pitts scored on a drive, and Platfoot made a put-back on a miss by Paul after a steal with 32 seconds left to tie it.

The Raiders had killed over a minute before Paul’s steal, and they killed the rest of the clock. After both squads took timeouts, Botkins fouled, which forced Russia to take it inbounds with under four seconds left.

Russia struggled to get it inbounds after some apparent confusion on the play, but Shappie ran around from the right to the left wing, caught the pass, drove inside and threw up the floater with pressure from two defenders.

“We drew that up right in the timeout, exactly what we wanted to do,” Russia first-year coach Mike Bashore joked.

“They improvised, and did a good job, and we won. The girls play so hard. I couldn’t be prouder of them. I love them to death.”

Bashore said he was proud of the squad staying together while Botkins made its 10-0 run to tie it.

“It speaks to their character as individuals,” Bashore said. “They just keep fighting. We had plenty of chances all season to give up, but we just kept fighting, and here we are, district champs. It just speaks to what they’ve done all year long.”

It’s the second consecutive district title for Russia, and not one many predicted heading into the season.

Russia (15-10) played five underclassmen on Saturday, including freshman guards Hazel Francis and Celeste Borchers, who started.

It’s been a youth movement for this year for the Raiders, which lost eight seniors to graduation from a 22-5 campaign a year ago. All of the team’s upperclassmen except Poling are in key roles for the first time, and many are in their first year as letterwinners.

Russia dropped to 4-7 with a loss to Fort Loramie on Jan. 4 but is 11-3 since.

“We’ve all grown closer together,” Shappie said. “That’s really helped our team chemistry. We’re playing better with each other.”

Paul opened the game with a 3, but Russia scored the next 17 points to take control. Sophomore guard Callie Goubeaux and York said the squad was moving it well during the run.

“We passed the ball a lot, and quickly, and had good ball movement,” Goubeaux said.

“Our defense was good, too. We sat down on defense, had high hands on those 3s, their outside shooters,” York said. “… Getting in there every time (going for loose balls), hustling every chance you get, is important.”

Botkins went over 10 minutes in the first half without scoring. But the Trojans scored 10 straight in the second quarter to pull within 17-13 after a basket by Pitts. They put together a similar run in the fourth quarter to tie it.

“That’s how we’ve been all year,” Botkins second-year coach Tyler Carson said. “A lot of games, we’ve come from behind. It just shows the toughness we have as a team. I was proud of us. We were down 17-3. A lot of teams don’t come back from that.

“We knew it was going to be a tough road. The girls battled. I couldn’t be more proud of them. That was a gritty performance.”

Carson credited Shappie for her game-winning shot.

“There’s nothing we could have done differently,” Carson said. “We defended it well. She just made a great shot.”

Poling led Russia with 15 points while Francis scored nine.

Russia advances to face Shelby County Athletic League rival Fort Loramie (24-2) a regional semifinal on Thursday at 8 p.m. at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activity Center. The Redskins beat Fayetteville-Perry 69-17 in Saturday’s second district final.

It’s the second consecutive year both teams will meet in a regional semi. Fort Loramie beat the Raiders 57-42 in the postseason a year ago and won both regular-season matchups this season, including a 60-37 win on Feb. 8 in Russia.

Shappie and sophomore forward Claudia Hoehne said the squad is excited to be in regionals and get a change for a better outing against the Redskins.

“Handling the pressure and making sure we get back on defense will be (important),” Shappie said.

“We have to be ready to play hard,” Hoehne said.

Pitts, a junior, led the Trojans with 15 points while Paul scored 12.

“DeeDee is a special player,” Carson said. “We were in her ear after she missed some shots early in the game. We didn’t want to effect how she was going to finish the game, and she came out and showed she was one of the best players on the court.”

Paul is one of four players the squad will lose to graduation. Carson praised her for her leadership this season.

“When you have an all-league player that plays as hard as she does in practice, it elevates our team to be better,” Carson said.

Botkins finishes 12-13 overall. The Trojans lost by double digits in both SCAL matchups with the Raiders in regular season, including a 45-33 loss on Feb. 3, which dropped the squad to 9-11 overall.

The squad put together a late-season run, including a 36-33 overtime win over Jackson Center on Wednesday in a district semifinal.

“As a program, we’ve grown a lot,” Carson said. “At one point this season, we were 3-7. I think a lot of people counted us out. I credit the girls coming to realization that we could do a lot better and be a lot more, and we pushed each other in practice all season. I think it really showed up. I’m extremely proud of our girls and our program.”

Aside from Paul, Botkins will lose Platfoot, Malanie Maurer and Reagan McPheron to graduation.

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

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