Young Russia Lady Raiders play well under direction of Coach Michael Bashore

Our girls have come a long way since the beginning of November ... Coach Michael Bashore

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Roni Poling scores for Russia in Lady Raiders non-conference game with Liberty-Benton. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

VERSAILLES – The Russia Lady Raiders Raiders under the direction of first-year head coach, Michael Bashore dropped a close game to the Liberty-Benton Lady Eagles in the second game of the First Annual Prosperity Promotions Tiger Classic.

Addison Shappie scores for Lady Raiders in Monday game with Liberty-Benton. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Coach Bashore’s Lady Raiders started two freshmen, 5’9” Hazel Francis and 5’10” Celeste Borchers after graduating nine seniors from the 2022-2023 season with many expecting Russia to suffer a large loss to Liberty-Benton, a team highlighted by Bowling Green University signee, 6’1” senior Lauren Gerken.

Russia freshman, Celest Borchers hits a jumper for the Lady Raiders at Tiger Classic. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“We fought, but it just didn’t work our way in the end,” Bashore said. “That is an excellent basketball team – they’ve only lost twice and no one was giving us much of a shot but we knew we could play hard.   We’re playing so much better now so this is only going to make us stronger.”

“Our girls have come a long way since the beginning of November,” Bashore added. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing but to be able to stick with a team like that with the girls they have going to Bowling Green – we did a fantastic job of fighting the whole way. We weren’t doing those things at the beginning of the year. It was a battle but we stuck with it and kept fighting.”

Lady Raiders freshman, Hazel Francis scores for Russia in matchup with Liberty-Benton. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Gerken accounted for 23 of the Lady Eagles’ first 24 points in the first three quarters of play before settling for a game-high 27.

“We did a better job on her later in the game,” Bashore said of the Bowling Green signee. “We were able to rotate some different girls on her.”

Russia coach, Michael Bashore watches his Lady Raiders at the Versailles Tiger Classic. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“She’s a heck of a player, she’s strong, and their offense revolves mostly around her,” said Russia senior, Roni Poling. “The high low is what really killed us.”

Russia took the opening period 10-9 with Russia’s 6’1” senior Roni Poling putting four points on the first quarter board including 2-2 at the line.

A Poling layup at 7:49 in the second quarter gave the Lady Raiders a 12-9 advantage before the teams went to the break with Liberty-Benton holding a slim 18-16 lead. Gerken accounted for 17 of the Lady Eagles’ 18 first-half points.

The Lady Raiders knotted the score at 18-18 in the first 10 seconds of the third quarter only to have the Lady Eagles use a 19-9 run to close out third-quarter play leading 37-27 with three periods in the book.

Russia battled back to trail 40-34 at 3:11 in the fourth and got it to a four-point game with 0:47 on the fourth quarter clock before being forced to foul in losing a five-point game.

Russia’s Roni Poling battles Bowling Green signee, Lauren Gerken for position at Tiger Classic. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“We had some trouble executing down the stretch we had a chance to cut it to four a couple times,” Bashore said. “Our girls fight hard, I’m proud of them, I wouldn’t trade them for anybody in the world.”

“We fought, but it just didn’t work our way in the end,” Bashore added. “That is an excellent basketball team – they’ve only lost twice and no one was giving us much of a shot but we knew we could play hard.   “We’re playing so much better now so this is only going to make us stronger.”

Roni Poling led Russia with 14 points in the Monday non-conference game.

“We have some great seniors who battle for us every day,” Coach Bashore stated. “Roni Poling is one of the greatest girls I’ve ever coached.”

“He’s great, and he makes everyday fun,” Poling said of Coach Bashore. “Coming into the season we knew it was going to be a lot different than last season. We lost nine seniors and he is doing the best with the girls we have.”

“We’re getting better every single day,” Poling concluded. “Since November it’s crazy, night and day difference with how much better we’re getting.”

BOXSCORE:

LIBERTY-BENTON – L. Gerken 27, A. Crow 15, E. Hooper 3, L. May 1 – TOTALS 8 9-14 7 46

RUSSIA – R. Poling 14, H. Francis 10, A. Shappie 8, C. Borchers 6, C. Hoehne 3 – TOTALS 13 9-10 2 41

3-POINTERS

Liberty-Benton 7 (L. Gerken, A. Crow 3, E. Hooper 1)

Russia 2 (A. Shappie 2)

SCORE by QUARTERS

09-09-19-09 46 Liberty-Benton

10-06-11-14 41 Russia