By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
KETTERING — Russia had the best of plans against Marion Local in a D-IV boys basketball regional semifinal Tuesday at Trent Arena.
And it worked to perfection in the early going, before the Flyers turned the tables with a 69-49 victory to end the Raiders season at 22-5.
With Gavin Hoying hitting two jumpers and Nolan Francis and Jacob Pleiman adding one basket each, the Raiders jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes.
“We needed to hit some shots,” Russia coach Paul Bremigan said. “And we did that early. But, then they did (have a big run). With their size, we needed to hit shots. We really didn’t want to be pounding the ball inside.”
The Flyers answered with a 16-2 run and took an 18-13 lead into the second quarter.
Guard Dustin Rethman had seven points in that run and would hit three 3-point field goals on the night, while Cole Griesdorn and Adam Bertke one would both hit shots from behind the arc.
“They beat us in transition and they hit some shots,” Bremigan said. “Some of those shots were the shots we wanted them to shoot. You want a team with that size shooting threes and pull-up jumpers in transition. You don’t want them getting it inside to the big guys.”
Russia hung close for the first three quarters, trailing just 40-33 before Marion Local pulled away in the final eight minutes.
Late in the second quarter, Russia got within four twice — first on a Jordan Gariety three and then on a Pleiman basket.
But, Rethman hit a three at the buzzer to make it 27-20 at the break.
Russia opened the second half with a free throw by Gavin Hoying and a putback on an offensive rebound by Pleiman to make it 27-23.
A 3-point play by Francis had them within 33-31 with 3:15 to go in the quarter, but Marion Local finished the quarter on a 7-2 run and the Raiders could never cut into the deficit in the fourth quarter.
“We just weren’t able to make enough shots,” Bremigan, whose team had closed the regular season with a two-point loss to the Flyers. “The big guy (6-10 junior Luke Knapke) didn’t play in that game. That is a pretty big difference. He blocked a number of shots tonight. We had a number of shots blocked.”
Francis had a big game for Russia with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Gavin Hoying added 10 points.
Ryan Bruns made nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Rethman had 17 points, Bertke added 13 points and eight rebounds and Griesdorn finished with 12 points.
Russia was 15 of 54 from the floor for 28 percent and 15 of 23 from the line for65 percent.
Marion Local was 20 of 35 from the floor for 57 percent and 24 of 33 from the line for 73 percent.
The Flyers won the battle of the boards 34-23, but had 13 turnovers to the Raiders’ eight.
It was the final game for Russia seniors Chase Hammonds, Isaiah Counts, Austin Tebbe and Kyle Poling.
“That was the toughest thing I had to do tonight,” Bremigan said. “To say goodbye to those seniors. It is not fun.”
He can’t say the same about the season — which turned around after a 2-3 start.
“When we won the County (Shelby County League) title, I told the kids there probably weren’t 15 people that thought we were going to do that,” Bremigan said.
Then they beat what some considered a potential state champion in the district finals in Aiken.
“I thought the kids really stepped up against Aiken,” Bremigan said. “There is no question — this season has really been a lot of fun.”
And the Raiders return a talented group — to go with unbeaten JV and freshman teams.
“Seven of our top were eight juniors — that’s good thing,” Bremigan said. “But, they can’t rest on their laurels. I told them, there are guarantees.”
Just like with the perfect game plan.
Jordan Gariety 2-0-5, Nolan Francis 6-11-24, Gaving Hoying 3-3-10, Bryce Cordonnier 0-0-0, Jacob Pleiman 3-0-6, Adam Hoying 0-0-0, Ryan Magoto 1-0-3, Isaiah Counts 0-0-0, Chase Hammonds 0-0-0, Austin Tebbe 0-0-0, Kyle Poling 0-0-0, Justin Gariety 0-1-1. Totals: 15-15-49.
Marion Local (69)
Dustin Rethman 5-4-17, Cole Griesdorn 5-1-12, Ryan Bruns 4-11-19, Luke Knapke 2-0-4, Adam Bertke 3-6-13, Troy Homan 0-0-0, Nate Nagel 0-0-0, Dustin Seitz 1-0-2, Derek Albers 0-2-2, Colin Mescher 0-0-0, Jason Brunswick 0-0-0, John Schwieterman 0-0-0, Kyle Homan 0-0-0, Duane Leugers 0-0-0, Cole Unrast 0-0-0. Totals: 20-24-69.
3-point field goals — Russia: Jordan Gariety, Francis, Gavin Hoying, Magoto. Marion Local: Rethman (3), Griesdorn, Bertke.
Score by Quarters
Russia 13 20 33 49
Marion Local 18 27 40 69
Records: Russia 22-5, Marion Local 23-3.