Russia played at Trent Arena twice this season. A rare opportunity
that came about because of exceptional talent and hard work
It was most of these same classmates that carried Russia to the regional tournament last year. Before 2014 it had been eight years since the Raiders last played in the regionals. That was back in 2006 when the venue was at Miami University and the Russia program was still riding the wave of annual success from the 2002 state runner-up team. What seems like yesterday for many faithful Raider fans was too long ago for most of the current seniors to remember.
Starting in junior high this special group of boys began to establish a reputation for winning. Capturing league titles in 7th and 8th-grade only fueled expectations for what was to come. As they entered high school the classmates that played together so well were split between the freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams. Then, as juniors, most of them reunited. It only took a short while to find that same chemistry they once enjoyed and the boys put together a 22-5 season, including a tournament run that brought home a district title over talented Cincinnati Aiken. The 2014 season eventually ended against Marion Local in the regional semifinals, but the taste of success only increased their appetite for their final year together.
Nolan Francis was a floor leader for the Raiders in junior high.
In high school he led Russia in scoring with over 1000 points
To say this last season of basketball for ten friends has been enjoyable would be a huge understatement. Another 22-5 season, titles in the SCAL, sectional tournament and one more district championship over Cincinnati Aiken this year was just part of the fun. Winning the Piqua holiday tournament and playing at Flyin' To The Hoop were moments that Raider fans may never experience again. Those ten seniors and Russia followers got to enjoy the fruit of six years in the making. Most of all though, this group did everything the right way. Great sportsmanship, hard work and starting the next wave of success for Raider basketball will be what they are remembered for. The boys may not have achieved everything they hoped for, but they were a class with class. And that's something to be proud of.
The 2015 seniors joined the class of 1995 as the only two teams
in school history to win district titles in both boys and girls
basketball in the same season. Quite an accomplishment