There was joy and frustration at Piqua’s Garbry Gym Saturday night. Joy for Fort Loramie as the Redskins avenged two regular season losses with another tournament win, and frustration for Russia, as the Shelby County League champions faltered in the sectional finals for the second year in a row.
Piqua – The Fort Loramie Redskins have the Russia Raiders number—at least in the post season.
The Redskins, losers of eight straight regular season decisions to the four-time league champion Raiders, are unbeaten in the last two sectional finals after a 59-50 win before a sold out crowd Saturday night.
“We had to execute, and we did that,” said Redskins third year coach Corey Britton. “We played really well. It was everyone, one through nine. Everyone stepped up, we shared the basketball, and played with a lot of confidence. That’s what it takes to beat a great program like Russia.”
“Hats off to Fort Loramie,” said Russia head coach Spencer Cordonnier. “Tonight, they were just better. We came in with a game plan, but game plans don’t always work. We knew what we wanted to do, but it didn’t work.”
Last year’s final was a nail-biting 52-51 decision that saw the Raiders with have the ball under their basket in the final 5 seconds. There was no such drama this time.
After two ties and four lead changes in the first four minutes, the Redskins took control with an 8-0 run. Dillon Braun, Austin Siegel and Tyler Siegel all contributed hoops during the run, which gave Loramie an 18-10 lead.
The second quarter was a fatal one for the Raiders. After a Jack Dapore basket narrowed the lead to three, Russia did not make a shot from the floor for the final 7 and a half minutes of the quarter. They also went three of six at the free throw line, as Loramie built a 31-18 halftime advantage.
“I thought our spurts were really good,” Britton said. “We played extremely hard, we defended extremely hard. We spread the points around, we passed the basketball, and when we do that we are really hard to beat.”
The Redskins scored the first two baskets of the second half to swell the lead to 17, and the Raiders never got closer than 6 the rest of the way. That was in the final minute, but the Redskins made enough free throws to secure their 20th win of the season, much to Britton’s relief.
“We knew they would make a run, because that is what good teams do. They never got closer than 6 though it seemed like it was a lot closer than that. Spencer does such a great job with that group, we knew they weren’t going to go away. We had to be ready to play 32 minutes, if we played just thirty, that wasn’t going to be good enough.”
Statistically, Loramie dominated much more than the final score indicated. The Redskins shot 61% in the first half and settled for 48% on the night, while the Raiders managed just 36% from the floor. The Redskins dominated the glass 34-18, outscored Russia 32-10 in the paint, and 21-6 off turnovers, though Loramie actually had one more turnover 12-11.
The foul line has not been kind to the Raiders at times this season, and that was the case again in the sectional final. The Raiders made just 15 of 28 opportunities for 54%, and every miss seemed to halt a comeback chance.
“We needed to control the boards, and we didn’t,” Cordonnier said with a grimace. “There were loose balls that we didn’t get, some calls didn’t go our way, we left points at the foul line and it snowballed on us in the first half. We dug a hole and couldn’t get out, and again, that’s credit to Fort Loramie.
Tyler Siegel was a tower of strength inside for the Redskins. The 6-7 junior was 5 of 6 from the floor and 7 of 9 from the line for 17 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots. Dillon Braun finished with 13 points and 7 boards, Austin Siegel had 9 and Evan Berning and Nick Brandewie both finished with 7.
Cody Gasson, one of just two seniors on the Loramie roster, was ecstatic about the win.
“This is a great team win. We knew coming in that we were going to have to fight every minute. We knew that we had to play hard. We had them the last game but made too many turnovers down the stretch. This time we took care of it and things went our way.”
Dylan Cordonnier closed out his career with a team-high 12 for the Raiders, while Jack Dapore and Ethan Monnier both had 9.
“We really didn’t prepare for this game any differently,” explained Britton. “When we played them last time, we were up five with a buck thirty left, then had back to back turnovers. That game gave us some confidence coming in. We had to clean some things up and we did that tonight.”
“I feel bad for the kids,” Cordonnier lamented. “They work so hard for what, four or five months, then one night, it can end. Unfortunately, the last two years, it’s ended here. So I’m sad for the kids, but I’m not disappointed in them. They played their hearts out and never quit.”
The Raiders lose six seniors who had a hand in four consecutive Shelby County League titles.
“A great group of kids,” praised their coach after the Raiders finished 18-6. “They won a ton of games, and they should be very proud of what they have accomplished. I know they are disappointed tonight, but they are going to do a lot of great things in life. When it is all said and done, they will look back at what they have done with a lot of pride.”
The Redskins, now 20-5 on the season, have a week to get ready for Cincinnati College Prep, which crushed Lockland 93-62 on Saturday. That game will be Friday at UD Arena at a time to be announced.
“It’s really exciting to get to go back to UD,” Gasson said with a grin. “It’s always great to beat Russia, and we want a better outcome down there this time.”
“We felt like we let that game at UD last year get away from us (Southeastern prevailed 79-71 in overtime),” Britton concluded. “We just didn’t finish. Hopefully we are a year older and more mature. We talked about that in the locker room briefly—I didn’t want to bring them down off of this high. But last year, I think we were satisfied after we beat Russia. That was the game for us, and we still played really well down there. Hopefully, we will have a little itch in our stomachs and be ready to roll because we are going to see a really good College Prep team.”