By Rob Kiser
DAYTON — For Russia senior boys basketball players Hunter Cohee, Carter Stueve, Jack Dapore and Dion Puthoff, it was worth the wait.
After two years of losing to Fort Loramie in the sectional finals, they got the opportunity to cut down the nets in a Dayton Division IV district final after a 64-33 win over Emmanuel Christian at U.D. Arena Friday night.
“It felt great,” Jack Dapore said. “After not getting down here the last two years, to be able to cut down the nets as seniors.”
And it brought a smile to coach Spencer Cordonnier’s face as well.
“I am not always the most pleasant guy,” Cordonnier said with a laugh. “Coaches are not always happy. Practices are not always pleasant. They (the seniors) have listened to a lot (over the last three years). And they have stuck with it. So, it means a lot for them to have this moment.”
And the Raiders are not done with their rivals yet
Russia, 16-8, will play 24-2 Fort Loramie in a D-IV regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Trent Arena.
And when Russia got in foul trouble early, Friday night — nobody could have predicted the result would spell doom for Emmanuel Christian.
“We came out in our usual man,” Cordonnier said. “But, then we got in foul trouble. I never anticipated going to the 1-3-1 that early — but, I had to to protect our two guys (Jordan York and Daniel Kearns). We didn’t have anybody else who could guard (Fred) Shropsire, (Adonis) Davis and (Nick) Kittles.”
At the time, the Lions were leading 18-16 and Davis had nine points.
Little did anyone know it would spark a 32-4 run to give Russia a 48-22 lead after three quarters as the Raiders scored the next 22 points.
“We just took away their passing lanes and they couldn’t get the ball inside,” Jack Dapore said.
And Russia’s 1-3-1 is an interesting one — with guard Mason Dapore the last line of defense under the basket.
“We put our tall guys up top,” Cordonnier said. “We are pretty long. It has worked well for us. It was a gamble, but we have won on our gambles more times than not this year.”
The run started with a three by Jack Dapore and baskets by Kearns and Mason Dapore.
And it was followed by a basket by Hunter Cohee and two more by Mason Dapore to make it 29-18 at halftime.
The Raiders added the first nine points of the second half, capped by another three by Jack Dapore and Russia was on its way to the district title.
Jack Dapore finished five of 10 from 3-point range to score 21 points, while dishing out five assists and finishing with three steals..
“The shooting background is a little different down here,” Dapore said. “It took a little while to adjust to it.”
Cohee added 10 points, while Mason Dapore had nine points and four assists and Kearns added eight points and five rebounds. Puthoff scored eight points off the bench and Evan Monnier added seven points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Davis led Emmanuel Christian with 13 points and four steals, while Kittles had nine points and Shropshire had six rebounds.
“I know Kittles hit a couple threes,” Cordonnier said. “But, one was early and one was late after we had the big lead.”
Russia was 25 of 44 from the floor for 57 percent, including six of 15 from behind the arc for 40 percent. Russia made eight of 11 free throws for 73 percent.
Emmanuel Christian was 12 of 35 from the floor for 34 percent, including four of 13 from 3-point range for 31 percent. The Lions made five of seven free throws for 72 percent.
Russia nearly doubled Emmanuel Christian on the boards 30-16 and 10 turnovers to the Lions 15.
And got to take home a district championship trophy — which was definitely worth the wait.
Emmanuel Christian (33)
Thomas Mullins 1-0-2, Fred Shropshire 1-0-2, Nick Kittles 3-0-9, Adonis Davis 5-3-13, Caleb Wellman 1-0-2, Noah Willis 0-0-0, Jason Channels 0-2-2, Brian Jordan 0-0-0, Will Pearose 0-0-0, Drew Ballinger 1-0-3, Jaden Nourse 0-0-0, Kyle Miller 0-0-0, Seth Potts 0-0-0. Totals: 12-5-33.
Jordan York 0-1-1, Mason Dapore 4-0-9, Hunter Cohee 5-0-10, Jack Dapore 7-2-21, Daniel Kearns 4-0-8, Evan Monnier 3-1-7, Dion Puthoff 2-4-8, Carter Francis 0-0-0, Carter Stueve 0-0-0, Adam Dapore 0-0-0, Will Sherman 0-0-0, Michael York 0-0-0, Caleb Monnin 0-0-0. Totals: 25-8-64.
3-point field goals — Emmanuel Christian: Kittles (3), Ballinger. Russia: M. Dapore, J. Dapore (5).
Score By Quarters
Emmanuel Christian 13 18 22 33
Russia 12 29 48 64
Records: Russia 16-8, Emmanuel Christian 10-15.