RUSSIA — Russia struggled at times in a game against Jackson Center on Tuesday but dominated defensively in the final 10 minutes to continue a hot start to the season.
The Raiders improved to 2-0 with a 39-24 win over Jackson Center in a Shelby County Athletic League game at Clair C. Naveau Gymnasium. It was the season opener for the Tigers, while Russia beat Sidney 43-28 last Friday.
Jackson Center pulled to within 30-24 late in the third quarter, but the Raiders finished the game on a 9-0 run to pull away.
“I think we’ve definitely been getting better every single day, and that’s what we try to do,” Russia coach Andy Timmerman said. “I would say it was another night of that tonight, especially in the fourth quarter. Not giving up a point in the fourth quarter, I think that shows progress, and I hope that continues in practice going into Saturday.”
Russia, which finished in second place in the Shelby County Athletic League last year, will travel to defending champion Fort Loramie on Saturday afternoon. The Redskins improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in SCAL play on Tuesday with a 69-29 win over Fairlawn.
Timmerman is hopeful Russia will have a big weapon back in Saturday’s game. Senior 6-foot-0 forward Laurissa Poling hasn’t played in the team’s first two games due to a sprained ankle. She was a first team all-SCAL selection last year.
“We’ll see,” Timmerman said. “It’s kind of day-to-day, so hopefully she’ll be back here as soon as possible.”
Russia led 23-16 at halftime and quickly extended its lead in the second half. Jessica York hit the opening basket of the second half, then Ashley Scott made 1-of-2 free throws to push the lead to 10 points.
Jackson Center pulled within six points after a basket by Katie Sosby with 1:54 left in the third, but Katie Heuing scored 10 seconds later to push Russia’s lead back to eight. Cordonnier then hit a 3-pointer in the first minute of the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 35-24. Russia led by double digits for the rest of the game.
“We had good ball pressure,” Timmerman said. “Katelyn Monnin played a heck of a game tonight on the ball. She did a good job of pressuring their point guard. We really kind of took them out of their offense. They couldn’t get started (in the second half) as well as they were previously. Other girls did a good job of getting up in their gaps like we wanted them to.
“We did a better job in the fourth quarter. I think we were also kind of running at a higher tempo, and Jackson Center was getting a little tired. I think that helped us out as well.”
Cordonnier led the Raiders with 14 points while York, Katie Hueing and Monnin each scored eight.
Timmerman said he’s happy with how the team has adjusted in the last two games without a true post player.
“Everybody is stepping up,” Timmerman said. “I think we did a good job of taking on a little bit different role than we possibly might need to when she’s back. We did a good job of rotating on defense and moving the ball on the offensive end so we can get some easier looks than just settling for jump shots.”
Sosby led the Tigers with 11 points while Caroline Frieders scored six.
Jackson Center pulled within 5-4 early but the Raiders went on an 8-4 run over a four-minute period to take a 13-8 lead. Russia led 15-9 at the end of the first quarter, and Cordonnier made two free throws with 6:55 left in the second to push the lead to 17-10.
Frieders and Kylie Hartle made baskets over the next two minutes to pull Jackson Center within 17-14. The Raiders increased their lead by halftime, though. York and Heuing made consecutive baskets to push the lead to seven.
After Raquel Kessler hit a basket to cut the lead to five points with 1:48 left, Cordonnier made a layup after a steal with 16 seconds left to increase the lead to 23-16 at halftime.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.