By Matt Zircher
RUSSIA — The Russia Raiders responded to serious run by the Jackson Center Tigers and went on to post a key early-season victory, 41-31, in County boys basketball action Friday night at Russia.
The Raiders go to 2-0 in the league and 3-1 overall with Arcanum coming to town tonight.
The Tigers are 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the league and return to action on Tuesday at home against Anna.
The Raiders led 8-5 after a quarter and 16-12 after a low-scoring first half. The pace picked up in the third quarter, however, and it was the Raiders threatening to pull away.
After a layup by Jackson’s Brady Wildermuth made it 17-14 early in the quarter, the Raiders scored seven of the next 10 points to open up a 24-17 lead with 3:13 remaining on a three-pointer by Dylan Cordonnier.
But the Tigers would have none of it and reeled off seven straight points to pull even at 24-24 with 1:32 remaining in the quarter. It started with a Wildermuth free throw, followed by a three-pointer from Trent Platfoot to make it 24-21. After a Russia miss, Corbin Murphy drained a three-pointer and the score was tied.
But the Raiders scored the final four points of the quarter in response, on buckets by Hunter Cohee and Cole Tebbe for a 28-24 lead heading to the final period.
Neither team scored for the first two minutes of the quarter and when the ice was broken, it was Russia doing it on two free throws by Drew Sherman with 6:11 remaining.
No one scored until 4:28 left when Cordonnier hit a shot, and that made it a 32-24 bulge for the Raiders.
Wildermuth hit a jumper to pull the Tigers within 32-26 with 2:46 left, but that was as close as they could come.
Jack Dapore, Sherman and Cordonnier all hit one of two free throws to make it a 35-26 lead, and when Tebbe scored inside, the lead reached double figures at 37-26 with just 1:50 left to play.
“Brady Wildermuth is probably one of the best players we’re going to play against this season,” said Russia coach Spencer Cordonnier. “You’ve got to try to contain their best player offensively and I thought we did a really good job of that tonight. Jackson tied it with those two threes, but our guys didn’t get rattled. Our guys have played in a lot of big games and that experience showed tonight. Dylan Cordonnier did a good job of taking control of the game at that point.
“It was a tough game, tough to even take a shot,” he added. “When you do a good job on the boards and defend, though, you’re going to be in the game.”
Russia was led by Tebbe with 12 and Cordonnier with 10.
Wildermuth led the Tigers with 16 points.
“A tough night offensively is an understatement,” said Jackson coach Scott Elchert. “We did a good job with our defensive game plan in the first half and I felt good only being down four, but we didn’t come out very good in the second half and Russia seized the momentum after we tied it with the back-to-back threes.
“We’re a work in progress and this game will be a good learning experience for us,” he added. “We need to learn to respond to different things from different opponents each night out.”
Jackson Center (31) — Platfoot 8, Booser 7, Bunke 2, Wildermuth 16, Murphy 3.
Russia (41) — Cordonnier 10, Sherman 3, Tebbe 12, Dapore 5, Kearns 5, Cohee 6.
Score by quarters:
Three-pointers: JC 4 (Platfoot, Booser, Wildermuth, Murphy); Russia 1 (Cordonnier).
Records: Russia 3-1, JC 2-1.