BASKETBALL: Russia streaks past Trojans

RUSSIA — The Botkins Trojans came out with a vengeance.

The Russia Raiders finished with one.

Ultimately, it was the Raider streak that endured as they took home a 68-50 win over Botkins.

The Trojans opened up at an 8-4 deficit, but then hit their stride, it seemed they scored every trip down the floor as they built up a 23-17 lead in the first quarter.

“They were simply beating us on the dribble,” said Russia varsity coach Paul Bremigan. “Botkins has a very athletic team this year. We knew what they were going to do coming in and we still couldn’t stop it.

Heath Geyer scored off of back-to-back steals and took them in for the score to tie the game at 17-17.

Adam Bornhorst hit a long jumper that gave the Trojans a lead at 19-17That lead reached as many as 11 early in the second quarter at 30-19 and they managed to hold into the fourth quarter.

And then the wheels fell off.

Bryce Rittenhouse kicked off the fourth-quarter scoring with three-pointers on back to back trips down the floor. The two buckets got the Raider offense going. Both coaches agreed it was a turning point of the game.

“The game was played at break-neck speed,” Bremigan said. “Both teams were exhausted out there. There was times were we wanted to sub but we couldn’t because it was just up and down the court. We got those two threes and were able to get a little bit of a lead. Whoever got that jump was going to have an advantage. We feel very fortunate that we got that lead.”

“We can’t let guys shoot open threes,” Botkins varsity coach Brett Meyer said. “We let them get a few and it got us into a lot of trouble. We then quit attacking the basket as well as we did in the first half and it made the difference. We just kind of settled for shots instead of continuing to drive to the basket.”

The Raider defense cracked down in the final period, allowing just one field goal in the final stanza. That one basket came with only 1:49 left in the game with it pretty much out of reach. Brenigan said they didn’t change much, that the just played better defense.

“We made some minor adjustments to our defense but nothing huge,” Brenigan said. “We just simply played harder.”

The Trojans did not help themselves out on the foul line either. They finished eight-of-21 from the stripe, with many of those coming when they had a chance to extend a lead.

The Trojans suffered their first loss of the year as they came into the game undefeated. They are now 3-1 while Russia is 4-0.

The Trojans play Jackson Center next Friday.