PIQUA — The Russia Raiders slid by the Botkins Trojans for a 55-41 victory in a Division IV boys basketball sectional semifinal Tuesday night at Piqua High School, but not without a struggle.
Down six at the half, Russia went on a 15-0 run to start the third quarter and quickly stretched its lead to 39-32.
“Coming out of halftime, we managed to take care of the ball, rebound the basketball and keep Botkins to one point,” Russia coach Paul Bremigan said.
In an attempt to fight back, the Trojans sent Russia into the bonus late in the fourth quarter. From there on out, Botkins was unable to convert shots into points.
“Our shots were just not falling the second half,” Botkins coach Brett Meyer said. “Russia pulled away late making us play catch up, and we just couldn’t manage to redeem ourselves.”
Going into halftime, the Raiders were trailing the Trojans by six. Unable to keep the ball in their hands, the Raiders gave up 30 points to the Trojans between the first and second quarters.
Faulty ball control was exactly their problem, Bremigan said.
“We simply just turned the ball over too much,” he said. “We had 14 turnovers in the first half, which is normally how many we average per game. We were down by six points going into halftime and we deserved it for the way we were handling the ball.”
Compared to the Raiders, Botkins went into halftime with only seven turnovers and nine steals, but its aggressiveness was just not enough.
Bryce Rittenhouse, Trevor Sherman, Trey Francis, Brandon Wilson and Ethan Schafer led Russia with eight points apiece.
Ethan Zimpfer and Heath Geyer led the Trojans with nine points each.
Unfortunately for three Botkins seniors this was their last high school basketball game.
“We are definitely going to be losing leadership and the effort that each kid put forth, but we’re mainly just going to be losing good kids. I always hate watching good kids graduate,” Meyer said.
The Raiders will be back in action in the sectional title game against the Houston Wildcats at 7 p.m. Friday.
Botkins ends its season with a 10-12 record.