Russia Lady Raiders weather storm to win District Championship

We had plenty of chances all season to give up but we kept fighting and here we are district champs ... Coach Michael Bashore

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Roni Poling scores two of her Russia game high 15 points to lead the Lady Raiders to a District Championship win over Botkins. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

TROY – The Russia Lady Raiders under the direction of head coach Michael Bashore defeated the Botkins Lady Trojans 36-34 to earn an OHSAA DIV District Championship.

“I am blessed to coach the best group of girls in the entire world, every one of them, one through 15,” said Bashore. “I love them to death and I am so happy for them because they worked their tails off, they could have packed it in when we were 4-7 and here we are.”

Hazel Francis drives to the Russia basket for a Lady Raiders score in District Championship win over Botkins Lady Trojans. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Botkins took an early 3-0 lead with a 3-pointer followed by 17 unanswered Lady Raiders points to lead 17-3 at 6:29 in the second quarter.

“We were getting it inside penetration, getting it inside to Roni (Poling),” Bashore said. “She was cleaning up some messes. Hazel (Shappie) did a nice job at the beginning getting to the basket. Things were going well and we weathered the storm the rest of the way.”

The Lady Raiders took the opening quarter 13-3 with Roni Poling hitting for six points including 2-2 at the free throw line and Hazel Francis adding five points for Russia.

Celeste Borchers scores for Russia in the Lady Raiders District Championship win over Botkins. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Period No. 2 went to Botkins 10-8 sending the game to the halftime break with the Lady Raiders holding a 21-13 advantage.

Russia added a single point to its lead after three-quarters of play with an 8-7 period to lead 29-20 with the teams going to the final quarter.

Down nine points, the Lady Trojans were not ready to throw in the towel and used a 14-5 scoring run including a 10-0 run to knot the score at 34-34 with 36 seconds remaining in the game.

Neither team could get a score over the next 33 seconds with overtime looking certain and Russia getting the ball at its end of the court with 2.8 seconds remaining bringing a timeout from the Russia bench.

Coach Bashore calls a final timeout to set up Russia District Championship winning basket. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Russia struggled to get the ball in play before Addison Shappie received the inbound pass and put up a baseline jumper good for the game-winning basket giving the Lady Raiders a District Championship and Coach Bashore’s first district title as a head varsity coach.

“We drew that up in the timeout – that’s exactly what we wanted to do,” Coach Bashore said with a chuckle. “No, they improvised and did a good job and we won.”

Addison Shappie drives to the Russia basket in team’s District Championship win over Botkins. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“It speaks to their character as individuals,” Coach Bashore said of the win. “They’re great kids, they just keep fighting. We had plenty of chances all season to give up but we kept fighting and here we are district champs – speaks to what they’ve done all year.”

Coach Bashore took a moment to reflect on winning his first District Championship.

Russia Lady Raiders coach, Michael Bashore cuts down the net following District Championship win over Botkins Lady Trojans. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“It means a lot because these girls work so hard,” Bashore said. “We were 4-7 at the halfway point and we are 15-10 now so 11-3 since and that goes for what they do. I am so proud of them. It is a great community. The hard work they put in and listening to the coaches paid off for them. I am just so proud of them.”

Poling led Russia with a game-high 15 points.

BOXSCORE:

RUSSIA – R. Poling 15, H. Francis 9, A. Shappie 4, C. Borchers 4, F. York 2, J. Shappie 2 – TOTALS 13 10-12 0 36

BOTKINS – D. Pitts 15, C. Paul 12, J. Platfoot 5, J. Metz 2 – TOTALS 9 1-1 5 34

3-POINTERS

Russia 0

Botkins 5 (C. Paul 4, J. Platfoot 1)

SCORE by QUARTERS

13-08-08-07 36 Russia

03-10-07-14 34 Botkins