By Rob Kiser
A near perfect night by Russia senior guard Dylan Cordonnier offset a gutty effort by the Covington boys basketball team in the Green Bracket championship game in the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic Friday night at Garbry Gymnasium.
Cordonnier was 5-for-6 from the floor — all threes — made all four of his free throws, was the Russia senior scholarship winner and capped things with the MVP trophy in the Raiders 52-38 victory.
“The guys got me the ball and I was able to knock down the shots,” Dylan Cordonnier said afterwards. “Coach is always telling me to shoot. I guess I know why now.”
Russia was leading 25-24 midway through the third quarter when Cordonnier knocked down threes on two consecutive possessions to make it 31-24.
He would add two more in the fourth quarter and make four straight free throws down the stretch.
“Dylan making shots is not the issue — it is getting him to shoot,” Russia coach Spencer Cordonnier said with emphasis. “Our bigs did a good job of kicking it back out to him for open shots.”
Cordonnier also was a big part of Cole Tebbe’s 19 points — matching Cordonnier for game-high honors — the duo combined for 27 of Russia’s 29 points in the second half.
“We feel good whenever we can get the ball in Cole’s (Tebbe) hands,” Cordonnier said. “If you watch us at all, it is clear — for us to be successful, we need the ball in Dylan’s (Cordonnier) hands. We are not the same team when he is not in the game. Dylan is the guy that makes us go.”
Covington got as close as six in the fourth quarter, but Russia held them off to win its fourth straight B.I.G. Classic title.
“Too much standing around in the first half,” Cordonnier said. “We didn’t have any ball movement. I thought we did a better job in the second half.”
Still, Covington coach Matt Pond was pleased with the way his kids battled from start to finish.
“I am so happy to be coaching these kids,” Pond said. “They always give me a great effort. They battled the entire game. We just had a few things that didn’t go our way.”
And he knew it would be a tough game.
“Russia is a good team,” Pond said. “Spencer (Cordonnier) is a class act and so is his team. And that’s how I like to think of my team as well. It was six to eight points a lot of the game. I don’t think the final score is really indicative of the closeness of the game.”
Trevor Miller had 12 points and five rebounds for the Buccs, while Jett Murphy scored seven and Nathan Blei added six points and six rebounds.
Blei was Covington’s scholarship winner and Blei and Tebbe were both named to the all-tournament team.
Russia was 16 of 31 from the floor for 52 percent and 14 of 18 from the line for 78 percent.
Covington was 16 of 39 from the floor for 41 percent and four of eight from the line for 50 percent.
“We didn’t get to the line enough to win,” Pond said. “But, it is what it is. And we had a few stretches where we didn’t score. But, I am proud of these kids and the way they battled.”
Russia, 7-2, will host Fort Loramie Friday and Ansonia Saturday.
Covington, 5-3, will host Milton-Union Tuesday.
“We have some big games coming up,” Dylan Cordonnier said. “So, hopefully this can help us (for the second half of the season).”
After a nearly perfect night at the B.I.G. Classic.
Dylan Cordonnier 5-4-19, Drew Sherman 1-2-4, Cole Tebbe 8-3-19, Jack Dapore 1-0-3, Daniel Kearns 1-3-5, Ethan Monnier 0-0-0, Drew Poling 0-2-2, Hunter Cohee 0-0-0. Totals: 16-14-52.
Jett Murphy 3-1-7, Jayce Pond 2-0-4, Trevor Miller 4-2-12, Nathan Blei 3-0-6, Kenny Atkinson 1-0-2, Zach Parrett 2-0-4, Tristin Sowers 1-1-3, Adam Lefeld 0-0-0. Totals: 16-4-38.
3-point field goals — Russia: Cordonnier (5), Dapore. Covington: Miller (2).
Score By Quarters
Russia 12 23 33 52
Covington 11 15 26 38
Records: Russia 7-2, Covington 5-3.