KETTERING — Russia had the best of plans against Marion Local in a Division IV boys basketball regional semifinal Tuesday at Trent Arena in Kettering
And it worked to perfection in the early going. But the Flyers turned the tables with a 69-49 victory to end the Raiders season at 22-5.
With Gavin Hoying hitting two jumpers and Nolan Francis and Jacob Pleiman adding one basket each, the Raiders jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes.
“We needed to hit some shots,” Russia coach Paul Bremigan said. “And we did that early. But then they had a big run. With their size, we needed to hit shots. We really didn’t want to be pounding the ball inside.”
The Flyers answered with a 16-2 run and took an 18-13 lead into the second quarter and never trailed the rest of the way.
They will take on Tri-Village in the regional championship game at 7 p.m. Friday after Tri-Village beat Troy Christian 59-49 in Tuesday’s other semifinal game.
Guard Dustin Rethman had seven points in that run and would hit three three-point field goals on the night, while Cole Griesdorn and Adam Berkte would both hit shots from behind the arc.
Russia hung close for the first three quarters, trailing just 40-33 before Marion Local pulled away in the final eight minutes.
Late in the second quarter, Russia got within four twice — first on a Jordan Gariety three and then on a Pleiman basket.
But Rethman hit a three at the buzzer to make it 27-20 at the break.
Russia opened the second half with a free throw by Gavin Hoying and a putback on an offensive rebound by Pleiman to make it 27-23.
A three-point play by Francis had them within 33-31 with 3:15 to go in the quarter, but Marion Local finished the quarter on a 7-2 run and the Raiders could never cut into the deficit in the fourth quarter.
“We just weren’t able to make enough shots,” said Bremigan, whose team had closed the regular season with a two-point loss to the Flyers. “The big guy (6-10 junior Luke Knapke) didn’t play in that game. That’s a pretty big difference. He blocked a number of shots tonight.”
Francis had a big game for Russia with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Gavin Hoying added 10 points.
Ryan Bruns maded nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Rethman had 17 points, Bertke added 13 points and eight rebounds and Griesdorn finished with 12 points.
Russia was 15 of 54 from the floor for just 28 percent and 15 of 23 from the line for 65 percent. Marion Local was 20 of 35 from the floor for 57 percent and 24 of 33 from the line for 73 percent.
The Flyers won the battle of the boards 34-23, but had 13 turnovers to the Raiders’ eight.
“When we won the County title, I told the kids there probably weren’t 15 people that thought we were going to do that,” Bremigan said.
Then they beat what some considered a potential state champion in the district finals in Cincinnati Aiken.
“I thought the kids really stepped up against Aiken,” Bremigan said. “There is no question — this season has really been a lot of fun.”
And the Raiders return a talented group to go with unbeaten junior varsity and freshman teams.