There will only be two area girls basketball games played this Saturday, but they’re among the biggest nonconference matchups of the season.
Minster plays at Russia and Fort Loramie plays at Versailles in a pair of nonconference games that pit the two best Shelby County Athletic League teams against the two best Midwest Athletic Conference teams.
Russia and Fort Loramie are tied for first place in the SCAL with 4-0 league records. The Raiders are 8-0 overall, while Fort Loramie is 5-3.
Versailles is in first place in the MAC with a 3-0 conference record, while Minster is close behind at 2-0. The Tigers are 8-1 overall, while Minster is 7-0.
Every team but Loramie won a district title last season, and Versailles finished as Div. III state runner-up.
Minster has steamrolled over most its opponents. The closest game the Wildcats have had so far was a nine-point win over Fort Loramie on Dec. 5. They have most of their players back from a regional runner-up team last year, including junior forward Courtney Pregner, who is verbally committed to Xavier.
Minster is far from a one-woman show, though. Two other starters are back off last year’s team, and the Wildcats’ rotation can do as deep as 10 players.
Russia has won all but two of its games by double digits, but the wins haven’t come without making Raiders fans a bit nervous at times. The team has gotten out to some slow starts, including in its last two games against Anna and Botkins.
The Raiders trailed Botkins by six points at halftime of a Shelby County Athletic League game on Saturday but used a 20-4 run to take control of the game in the second half.
A slow start against Minster could spell trouble according to Russia coach Andy Timmerman.
“We can’t do that against them,” Timmerman said. “No matter who you play, it’s not good to start slow. Hopefully we do a little bit better of a job. We did a better job earlier in the year about playing well early, but the last couple of games it’s taken us a little bit to get going.”
Junior forward Laurissa Poling leads Russia with an average of 13 points per game, while junior guard Jenna Cordonnier averages 11.1.
Minster beat Russia 41-24 in a Div. IV regional semifinal last season and won a regular season game by six points.
Fort Loramie started the season 3-0, but the Redskins have picked up three losses in the last three weeks against tough nonconference competition. Aside from the loss to Minster, Loramie lost by 18 points to Tippecanoe on Dec. 11 and to New Bremen by eight points last Tuesday. Minster, Tippecanoe and New Bremen have a combined record of 24-1.
The Redskins have relied on balanced scoring this year. That was on display in a 60-34 SCAL win over Houston on Thursday, when Kenzie Hoelscher and Taylor Raterman each scored 10 points and Kennedi Gephart, Abby Holthaus and Marissa Meiring each scored nine.
Versailles appears ready for another long tournament run. All the Tigers’ wins have come by margins of 17 or more points, with their lone loss being a one-post defeat at Lima Bath last Saturday.
A pair of returning starters lead the Tigers in scoring. Senior guard Kami McEldowney averages 14.2 points per game, while senior forward Danielle Winner averages 12 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Versailles is averaging 65 points per game and is shooting 48.6 percent from the field.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.