Tuesday night featured a Shelby County Athletic League showdown between 2 undefeated programs in Russia and Botkins. As all SCAL games are, Botkins was packed with both teams bringing loud and energetic crowds.
Out of the gate, Russia came out and utilized their length and size to disrupt the Trojans on defense. An 8-0 run in the middle of the quarter extended the lead to as much as 10 points before Botkins could respond. The Trojans offense struggled to get anything going inside the arc and even found themselves rushed and having turnovers against the stout Russia defense. Even with the struggles, they were still within striking distance as Russia led 17-11 after a quarter of play.
The 2nd quarter starting out rough as Botkins’ Jordan Herzog (Sr) picked up his 2nd foul early in the quarter and spent some time on the sideline. But suddenly, the script was flipped for the Trojans. Rylyn Paul (Sr), J.J. Meyer (Sr), and Noah Topp (Jr) started to connect and the Trojans suddenly got hot from behind the arc. As the quarter wore on, fatigue settled in for the Raiders as they began to turn the ball over more than normal and they saw Hayden Quinter (Sr) pick up his 2nd foul late. The sharp shooting got Botkins back in the game as they went into the locker room tied 31-31.
Knowing what we’ve seen from Russia in the past, it was safe to assume a run was coming to start the half. Instead, Botkins grabbed the momentum as they continued to make perimeter shots and especially saw Topp continue his barrage of 3’s. Russia changed their game plan and began to really attack the glass offensively and utilize their length. This allowed Braylon Cordonnier (Jr) and Felix Francis (Sr) to get some 2nd chance opportunities. It looked like the Raiders were going to find some momentum as Hayden Quinter scored his 1,000th point in the quarter, but Botkins’ shooting stole the show and gave the Trojans a 48-45 lead going into the final quarter.
Finally, the run everyone was waiting for started for Russia. The Raiders jumped out on a 13-1 run and got the lead back near double digits before Botkins responded. The Trojans offense cooled off and wasn’t getting the same looks they had all game, but late in the quarter started to catch fire again. The Trojans didn’t go away but Russia was able to finish the game out and win the battle of unbeatens with a 62-57 road win. Dylan Topp led the Trojans in scoring with 17 points. Braylon Cordonnier lead Russia with 16 points.
Botkins will rebound with a SCAL road game against Anna and then face Fort Recovery on the road. Russia hosts Fort Loramie on Friday night and then brings in New Bremen Saturday.