By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
The Russia boys basketball team was impressive from the start Saturday night in 69-41 win over Mechanicsburg in Piqua D-IV sectional action.
The Raiders, 15-8, advance to play 12-11 Fairlawn, a 50-30 winner over Lehman Catholic Saturday, at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“We looked a lot at our last two games (losses to Marion Local and Anna) and we felt like we really didn’t do a good job of playing to our strengths,” Russia coach Dave Borchers said. “That is one of the things we really focused on coming in.”
Particularly, the size advantage of 6-foot-5 Daniel Kearns.
Kearns scored eight points in the early going and 15 in the first half as Russia used full-court pressure to create easy opportunities and when forced to run a half-court offense, found Kearns inside.
As a result, the Raiders jumped out to an 18-8 first quarter lead and stretched it to 36-19 at halftime.
“We felt like we had an advantage (with Kearns inside),” Borchers said. “It was great to see us come out from the ball and take advantage of that. The last couple games, it felt like we took some big punches before we responded. I felt like we came out with a lot more energy tonight.”
Mechanicsburg was never able to recover as Russia stretched the advantage to 54-30 after three quarters and cruised to the win.
Kearns finished with 19 points, while Jordan York added 15 points.
Carter Francis scored seven points, while Mason Dapore, Will Sherman and Adam Dapore all scored six as Borchers picked up his first postseason.
“That’s nice, but it is really not about me,” Borchers said. “It is about coming out, playing well and moving on in the tournament. I felt like we took advantage of our matchups and that is a big part of it in tournament basketball.”
Chris Taylor scored 17 points for Mechanicsburg and Joey Mascadri and Logan Hurst added seven points each.
Russia was 29 of 48 from the floor for 60 percent and nine of 16 from the line for 56 percent.
Mechanicsburg was 16 of 37 from the floor for 43 percent and six of nine from the line for 67 percent.
Russia dominated the boards 27-12 and had 11 turnovers to the Indians’ 19.
In the first game Saturday,the Fairlawn boys earned a second-round matchup with Russia with a 50-30 win over Lehman Catholic.
Fairlawn improved to 12-11 with the win, while Lehman finished 8-15.
And it was sophomore Ashton Piper that was the starter and finisher for the Jets.
He had 13 of the Jets 15 points in the opening quarter and added seven more in the fourth quarter as Fairlawn led 15-6, 23-9 and 31-20 at the quarter breaks.
“Ashton (Piper) is a great athlete who can score a lot of ways,” Fairlawn coach Justin Tidwell said. “We like to go to him to finish games a lot, he has a big body and can use it to his advantage.”
Tidwell wasn’t happy with an 18-7 lead and under three minutes to go in the half. Fairlawn outscored Lehman 5-2 the rest of the half.
“We played good defense througought tonight,” Tidwell said. “But, we were just so stagnant on offense (before the timeout). We told the kids, this was just about surviving and advancing and moving on to the second round.”
Lehman coach Pat Carlisle knew it would be a defensive battle.
“They played great defense and so did we,” Carlisle said. “Give him (Ashton Piper) credit. He is a great player.”
Carlisle was pleased with Cavaliers season.
“Our student athletes define what an academic institution are supposed to be,” Carlisle said. “They are all involved in other clubs and activities and still found a way to have our highest finish in four years in the NWCC. I think it is a great building stone for next year.”
Piper led Fairlawn with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Isaac Ambos scored 12 points and Skyler Piper added seven.
Elliott Gilardi led Lehman with nine points.
Luke Frantz scored seven and Bryce Kennedy added six.
Fairlawn was 20 of 44 from the floor for 45 percent and six of 10 from the line for 60 percent.
Lehman was 10 of 37 from the floor for 27 percent and eight of 15 from the line for 53 percent.
Fairlawn won the battle of the boards 26-21 and had nine turnovers to Lehman’s 12.
The Covington boys basketball team faced a stiff challenge Friday night, facing second-seed Fort Loramie in Piqua D-IV sectional action.
And while the Buccs stayed close early, the Redskins would end the Buccs season with a 73-47 victory.
Fort Loramie improves to 16-7 and plays 7-14 Riverside Tuesday.
Covington closes the season at 5-18.
The Buccaneers’ defensive pressure seemed to slow Fort Loramie in the first quarter, which allowed them to stay in the game. But after senior guard Chad Yohey hit a pair of free throws to pull Covington within 12-8 with 24 seconds left in the first, things got lopsided quickly.
Fort Loramie hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter to power a 24-7 scoring advantage and take a 36-15 halftime lead. Covington didn’t pull closer than 18 points in the second half.
“That was a big quarter,” Covington coach Matt Pond said. “It was a massive second quarter, and that’s kind of been our Achilles heel all year, having trouble at spots throughout the game, going through a drought against a good team. You’ve got to be able to match that.”
The Buccaneers will lose four seniors to graduation: Yohey, forward Jack Shell, forward Gray Harshbarger and guard Tyler Fraley. Yohey, Harshbarger and Fraley started on Friday.
“I can’t take away from any of my kids’ efforts,” Pond said. “My seniors have led us emotionally all year, and you can see that by the way our kids played. We scrapped, we fought against a good-shooting team.”
Andrew Cates led Covington with 13 while Yohey scored eight and Spencer Brumbaugh added seven.
“We knew they could shoot it, and that was a tough matchup athletically for us,” Pond said. “I liked our kids’ effort and I liked the way we took care of the ball against their pressure. …(Fort Loramie is) well-coached and they played hard and played together, and that takes nothing away from our kids.”
lose to Stivers
VANDALIA —- The Houston boys basketball team lost to Stivers 58-43 in Vandalia D-III sectional action.
Stivers improved to 21-2 with the win, while Houston finished at 7-16.