SIDNEY – Russia knocked off Mechanicsburg Wednesday night in the Division IV girls basketball sectional, 54-40. But the game wasn’t nearly as one-sided as the final indicated.
In the first quarter, Russia got out to a 10-0 lead before the Indians were able to respond.
“I kept after us to set up the offense. They did a really good job swatting our shots in the beginning. We never really got in a flow and that hurt us,” MHS Coach Christie Dodane said.
Mechanicsburg committed far too many turnovers to be competitive early, and too many fouls as well. The Raiders took an 18-6 lead after the first frame.
But in the second quarter, M’burg was able to close the gap from long range.
A pair of three-pointers pulled the Indians to within six points, but Russia was able to extend again. But just before halftime, another pair of triples pulled M’burg to a 23-20 deficit at the intermission.
“I told them we had them right where we wanted them. Because we did,” Dodane said.
The Indians played inspired defense in the third quarter, forcing a tie at 25-25 and 27-27.
The second came on a jumper by Kasey Schipfer after Morgan Hamby had leveled her defender with a clean screen at midcourt. That play forced a timeout by the Russia coaching staff.
The Indians didn’t let up, pushing the lead to six points with less than a minute left in the quarter.
But a Russia player broke the full-court pressure M’burg had been applying and Mikayla Dodane compounded the mistake by scurrying to commit a bad foul. A play later, she forced a pass and turned the ball over with 11 seconds on the clock and a four-point advantage.
“We set up a play and Mikayla forced it instead of keeping it calm. I told her we had plenty of time, but she was …,” Coach Dodane trailed off with a sigh. “At the end of the third quarter, I know they made a little run, but we were still up by one. And I said ‘all we have to do is win this quarter.’”
The Indians didn’t win the final quarter, with a couple of close calls going the opponents’ way and a few mistakes thrown in. Mechanicsburg had to foul to have any chance down the stretch, but Russia made all the shots from the line – the Raiders were 26-of-34 for the game.
For Russia, Laurissa Poling had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the middle. For M’burg, Dodane had 19 points, Schipfer had 11 and Emma Jones hit a trio of three-pointers for 9.
“The first thing I said when I walked into the locker room was ‘I’m proud of you,’” Dodane said. “Lots of times tonight we had three freshmen on the floor. And we’re battling with a very good team. I think we have a bright future.”
WL-S wins big
PITTSBURG – Top-seeded WL-S routed 19th-seeded Brookville, 71-14, in the Division III girls basketball sectional on Wednesday.
The Tigers advance to play fifth-seeded Madison here on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.