Call Sports Editor
It was a fitting way for Russia coach Paul Bremigan to get his 400th win.
The Raiders ralled from four down in the final two minutes, showing the scrappiness and grittiness Bremigan’s teams have always displayed, to defeat Piqua 53-49 in the B.I.G. Insurance Classic Holiday Tournament opening round.
Russia will play Lehman for the championship game at 8:30 p.m. tonight, while Piqua will play Covington at 5:30 p.m. in the consolation game.
“I don’t think it feels that much different from 399 wins,” Bremigan, who was honored after the game, said with a smile. “Hey, we knew how difficult Piqua was going to be to beat. That was why we scheduled Lima Perry and LCC. To get ready for an athletic, quick team like Russia all the credit.
“They were able to get a couple turnovers and tie the ball up,” Butler said. “You have to give Russia a lot of credit. They kind of imposed their will on the boards and made some big plays down the stretch.”
With Piqua leading 48-44 with 3:00 remaining, the Indians elected to pull the ball out and run the clock. At the time, Russia had just one team foul.
“I told the guys we have a chance to get aggressive here and maybe create some turnovers,” Bremigan said.
Nolan Francis hit two free throws at the 2:00 mark to get the Raiders within 48-46.
After Storm Cook hit one of two free throws with 1:06 remaining to make it 49-46, Francis scored again to to get Russia within 49-48 with :46 remaining.
Following a Piqua timeout, the Raiders tied the ball up and the possession arrow was in their favor with 35.3 seconds
Gavin Hoying was able to tip the ball in to give the Raiders the lead and Piqua came down and missed, giving Russia the ball with 8.2 seconds left.
Francis hit the first free throw with 7.5 seconds left, but missed the second.
But, Hoying grabbed the rebound again and Jordan Gariety hit two free throws with 3.4 seconds left to seal the win.
“I didn’t think we did a very good job on the boards against Houston even though we won,” Bremigan said. “I let the kids know about that and I don’t think they liked it to much. Gavin Hoying had a lot of huge rebounds tonight.”
It was a frustrating way for the game to end for Butler.
“You talk about xs and os,” Butler said. “But, it was a simple box out and we couldn’t get it done.”
Russia had led 13-10 after one quarter, but Piqua led 28-27 at halftime and it was tied at 40 after three quarters.
“We got down in the first half and battled back to within one at halftime,” Bremigan said. “Then we battled back at the end. Nolan Francis made some big baskets for us tonight.”
Francis scored 26 points for the Raiders and Hoying added 13.
Bachman had 16 points for Piqua.
Tate Honeycutt scored 12 and Cook added 11.
Jordan Gariety 1-2-4, Chase Hammonds 0-0-0, Isaiah Counts 0-0-0, Nolan Francis 10-6-26, Gavin Hoying 5-3-13, Adam Hoying 1-0-2, Bryce Cordonnier 0-0-0, Jacob Pleiman 4-0-8. Totals: 21-11-53.
Tate Honeycutt 5-1-12, Xavier Harrison 2-0-5, Colton Bachman 6-0-16, Erik Vondenhuevel 0-0-0, Dan Monnin 2-1-5, Storm Cook 4-1-11, Ryan Neal 0-0-0, Conner Forror 0-0-0, Derrick Gullett 0-0-0. Totals: 19-3-49.
3-point field goals — Piqua: Honeycutt, Harrison, Bachman (4), Cook (2).
Score By Quarters
Russia 13 27 40 53
Piqua 10 28 40 49
Records: Russia 7-3, Piqua 4-2.
Reserve score: Russia 49, Piqua 36.