By Rob Kiser
There were no secrets Friday night in the Piqua Division IV upper bracket sectional between Shelby County Athletic League members Russia and Jackson Center.
So, Russia coach Spencer Corodnnier knew points weren’t going to come easy against the Tigers defense.
But, Russia was able to pull away in the fourth quarter for a 37-21 victory.
The Raiders, 15-8, will play Emmanuel Christian in a district final Friday at a time to be announced at U.D. Arena.
Jackson Center closes the season at 15-10.
“It was just a battle out there,” Cordonnier said. “It is just so hard to score points on Jackson Center.”
And Jackson Center appeared to have exactly what it wanted when Chistopher Elchert hit a three to put Jackson Center up 14-13 early in the second half.
“I was really pleased with the first half,” Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert said. “And I thought we were in great shape right there when we took the lead.”
But, after Jackson Center closed within 17-16, Russia would scored the next 12 points to take a 25-16 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“I thought that was the critical stretch right there,” Elchert said. “We had taken the lead and then they ran off a bunch of points.”
Jordan York had four of those points on a rebound and a steal as Russia would hit nine of 14 shots in the second half.
“We got the ball inside, we got some good looks and we got some easy baskets off steals,” Cordonnier said.
Then, Evan Monnier provided the backbreaker.
After hitting a buzzer-beater to end the first quarter, he started the fourth quarter scoring with a four-point play to make it 29-16 and the Raiders were in control from there.
“Evan (Monnier) can hit those shots,” Cordonnier said. “He has kind of been an unsung hero for us. He started the season as a starter and now he is coming off the bench.”
The game had started with Russia going scoreless for the first 7:15, but the Raiders defense held them in the game as the Tigers led just 4-0.
“I thought our last two practices had been our best (on defense),” Cordonnier said about his team holding Jackson Center to eight field goals for the game.
Jack Dapore got Russia on the board and Monnier’s buzzer beater after Russia rolled the ball all the way down floor to have time for the shot, made it 5-4 after one quarter.
“We had a little bit of a mental breakdown there,” Elchert said.
Then, Russia scored six points in the first minute of the second quarter to open an 11-4 lead. York had a 3-point play and Mason Dapore hit a three.
But, the Raiders would only score two points the rest of the half.
“That’s because we got out of rhythm,” Cordonnier said. “We came down and took five straight quick shots. I don’t care how quick we shoot but it needs to be in rhythm.”
Elchert was happy with the two-point deficit at halftime.
“I thought the game might get away from us there (in the second quarter),” Elchert said. “As it turned out, that stretch in the third quarter was the critical stretch.”
Daniel Kearns led Russia with 10 points and seven rebounds — including six points down the stretch as the Raiders sealed the game.
Jack Dapore grabbed seven rebounds and York pulled down five.
Tretn Platfoot and Bryce Sosby had five points each to lead the Tigers, while Calvin Winner grabbed nine rebounds.
Russia was 14 of 31 from the floor for 45 percent — including three of seven from 3-point range for 43 percent. The Raiders made six of nine free throws for 67 percent.
Jackson Center was eight of 35 from the floor for 23 percent — including two of 13 from behind the arc for 15 percent. The Tigers made three of six free throws for 50 percent.
Russia won the battle of the boards 28-20, but had 13 turnovers to Jackson Center’s 11.
“I am really proud of these kids, to get 15 wins with the pieces we had,” Elchert said. “That is seven straight sectional finals and we have only stubbed our toes twice. A lot of people don’t realize this, but Bryce Sosby was here as a freshman and started the last three years. He was 11-0 at Piqua coming into tonight. There are not many kids who can say they were 11-1 at Piqua.”
Russia moves on to play for a district title.
“It is just tough going against Jackson Center,” Cordonnier said. “I was really hoping to get to 50 (points), but we didn’t make it.”
As it turned out, 37 was more than enough in a game where every point counted — and there were no secrets.
Jackson Center (21)
Trent Platfoot 2-0-5, Christopher Elchert 1-0-3, Braden Heitkamp 0-0-0, Bruce Sosby 2-1-5, Calvin Winner 2-0-4, Adam Reichert 1-2-4, Jarron Reese 0-0-0, TJ Esser 0-0-0, Maissen Akers 0-0-0, Garrett Heitkamp 0-0-0, Mason Platfoot 0-0-0, Garrett Prenger 0-0-0, Clay Akers 0-0-0. Totals: 8-3-21.
Jordan York 3-1-7, Mason Dapore 2-0-5, Hunter Cohee 0-0-0, Jack Dapore 1-4-6, Daniel Kearns 5-0-10, Evan Monnier 2-1-7, Carter Francis 0-0-0, Dion Puthoff 1-0-2, Carter Stueve 0-0-0, Michael York 0-0-0, Adam Dapore 0-0-0, Dawson Luthman 0-0-0, Caleb Monnin 0-0-0. Totals: 14-6-37.
3-point field goals — Jackson Center: Platfoot, Elchert. Russia: M. Dapore, Monnier (2).
Score By Quarters
Jackson Center 4 11 16 21
Russia 5 13 25 37
Records: Jackson Center 15-10, Russia 15-8.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.