By Rob Kiser
Russia boys basketball team started out on fire.
And while the Raiders never trailed in a first round Green bracket game in the Buckeye Insurance Group Holiday Classic, Covington made its presence felt to the very end.
Russia came away with a 71-64 victory to advance to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. championship game with Lehman.
Covington will play Troy Christian in the consolation game at 4 p.m.
“I thought we came out with the intensity we wanted,” Russia coach Spencer Cordonnier said. “Then, we relaxed. That really hasn’t been a problem for us all year. Now, we move on to the championship game.”
Covington coach Matt Pond liked the heart his team showed.
“You are never happy with a loss,” Pond said. “But, there were some things you can build on.”
Russia scored the game’s first 13 points. Four different players scored in the run, including six points by Josh York.
“I thought we had what we wanted,” Cordonnier said. “We had good movement on offense. On defense, we were in the passing lanes, tipping the ball away.”
Covington would then answer with the next eight points and stayed close the rest of the half, trailing 16-10 after one quarter and 31-23 at the break.
“We sent Jordan (Maschino) to the line seven times and he made all seven,” Cordonnier said. “That is definitely not what we wanted to do.”
Pond like what he saw from his team for most of the first half.
“We had ourselves back in the game,” he said. “But, Russia had a big third quarter.”
The Raiders had a 21-12 advantage in the quarter to go up 52-31 after three quarters.
“We came out with the same intensity we had at the start of the game,” Cordonnier said. “Then, we relaxed again.”
Covington would explode for 29 points in the final eight minutes.
Jayce Pond’s fifth three of the game had Covington within seven in the final minute and Covington knocked the ball loose, but Russia was able to come up with it and finish off the win.
“The kids never quit,” Pond said.
Cole Tebbe led Russia with 18 points, while York had 12 points and eight rebounds and Jonah Counts scored 11 points.
Pond had 21 points to pace Covington, including 15 in the second half.
Maschino added 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Trevor Miller scored 11.
Russia was 26 of 40 from the floor and 14 of 22 from the line, while Covington was 19 of 47 from the floor and 17 of 23 from the line.
Both teams had 21 rebounds and Russia had 13 turnovers to Covington’s 16.
Jayce Pond 6-4-21, Jordan Maschino 5-9-19, Trevor Miller 3-3-11, Nathan Blei 1-0-3, Tristin Sowers 2-0-4, Kenny Atkinson 1-1-4, Jett Murphy 1-0-2, Adam Lefeld 0-0-0. Totals: 19-17-64.
Trevor Monnin 1-0-2, Dylan Cordonnier 1-4-7, Jake Gariety 2-2-7, Cole Tebbe 8-2-18, Josh York 5-2-12, Jack Dapore 2-0-5, Jonah Counts 3-4-11, Clay Borchers 3-0-6, Connor Monnin 1-0-3, Caleb Ball 0-0-0, Lukas Busse 0-0-0. Totals: 26-14-71.
3-point field goals — Covington: Pond (5), Miller (2), Blei, Atkinson. Russia: Corodnnier, Gariety, Dapore, Counts, Monnin.
Score By Quarters
Covington 10 23 35 64
Russia 16 31 52 71
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.