BASKETBALL: Trojans win thriller

BOTKINS — Back-and-forth the pendulum swung.

And when the horn sounded, it was on Botkins’ side.

In a game of momentum swings, the Trojans ultimately came out on top, defeating the Russia Raiders 52-45 in overtime in a Shelby County League varsity girls basketball game Thursday at Botkins High School.

The Trojans scored all nine of the points in the overtime from the free throw line. They connected on 9 of 12 attempts in the period.

Russia managed just one field goal in the overtime — a Shana Meyer layup with 19 seconds left. By then it was too late.

“We lost a really tough one to Houston on Saturday by one,” Botkins varsity coach Don Mack said. “We missed a couple free throws down the stretch. I think the girls are really starting to learn how to finish.”

With Botkins leading 48-43 with 30 seconds left in the overtime, Hannah Koch jumped in front of a Russia pass for a steal. She was fouled and made both free throws at the other end to make it a seven-point game with 26 seconds remaining.

“It was funny because from where I was standing, I could see her seeing that girl,” Mack said. “We talked so much coming into this, Russia is so good at making a two-handed cross-court strong pass. A lot of times girls can’t make that pass. ...

“I’ve been talking about reading the eyes and the hands when they get the ball above their head. And she did a great job anticipating and made a huge steal and hit the two free throws. That was a four-point swing right there.”

Botkins jumped out to a 16-9 first-quarter lead behind nine points from Christine Johnson.

But the Raiders responded, going on a 12-0 run and holding the Trojans scoreless for the final 7:35 of the half to take a 23-18 lead.

“I really can’t wait to watch the tape and see what happened in the second quarter,” Mack said. “To score 16 and then come back and only score two, I don’t know if we just got complacent, if we got happy with where we were at, I’m not sure. But right now I’m just happy we were able to finish it down the stretch.”

The lead changed hands three times in the third quarter before the Raiders scored the final five points of the period to take a 33-28 lead.

With 2:56 left in the quarter, Botkins’ Logan Pitts was called for a foul, her third of the game, in a scramble for the ball under the Botkins basket. Pitts was then hit with a technical foul, giving her four fouls.

With Pitts on the bench, Russia began its run.

But Botkins didn’t roll over. Cassie Bergman knocked down a 3-pointer and Johnson hit back-to-back buckets in the post to tie it at 35-all.

Johnson added a pair of free throws and, less than 10 seconds after returning to the court, Pitts added a basket to give the Trojans a 39-35 lead with 3:50 to play.

“She felt horrible when she got her technical,” Mack said. “I told her she needed to stay focused because she was going to come back in and make a difference.”

Russia battled back, retook the lead, then watched it vanish again in the closing seconds as Johnson converted both ends of a one-and-one with 12.4 seconds left to force the overtime.

The Raiders had a chance to win the game in the final seconds of regulation. But with Bergman applying defensive pressure, Kylie Wilson missed a layup just before the buzzer.

“The ball not falling, that’s a shot Kylie Wilson makes a lot,” Russia coach Allan King Jr. said. “Unlucky. [Botkins] played hard. They definitely had something to do with that. You’ve got to give Botkins credit for it.”

Johnson led all scorers with 22 points. Pitts added 13 for Botkins. Koch contributed 10. And Bergman chipped in with seven.

Meyer led Russia with 11. Wilson scored nine.

Russia won the junior varsity game, also in overtime, 35-31.