BY ZACK KLEMME
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RACELAND Bobby Hale with a charley horse was the best version of the Russell senior point guard on Friday night.
With the Red Devils trying to put away a victory over Raceland in overtime, Hale took a hard spill and caught a knee to his leg when a Ram tried to take a charge in transition.
Slow to get up, Hale nonetheless sank both free throws.
Those were two of Hale’s string of 12of-13 converted charity tosses over the final 29.9 seconds of regulation and
overtime of Russell’s 7863 win at Raceland.
“I just had to suck it up, man up, think the ball was going in,” Hale said.
Hale finished with 22 points — all of them in the second half and extra session. He’d made only three of seven foul shots before his finishing kick.
With Hale scoreless at intermission and Russell trailing 25-20, Red Devils coach Bryan Groves led a spirited locker room session.
“I chewed on him at halftime. I’m gonna be honest with you, I tore into him,” Groves said.
“I said, ‘Here we are again. You scored zero points in the first half; it’s hard for Russell to win when you score zero in the first half.’ And then he comes out again and has 22 in the second half.”
Russell needed just about every one of them. The Red Devils had the ball and a five-point lead with less than two minutes to go in regulation, but the Rams’ Kirk Pence and Greg Mershon came up with steals that led to points.
Raceland’s Rylie Potter was fouled shooting as time expired with Russell up 59-58. With the clock on all zeroes, he missed the first charity toss before Russell took a timeout to make him think about it. Potter drained the second one to force overtime.
But Raceland missed two free throws on its first trip of the extra four minutes, Hale scored seven straight points for Russell, and the Red Devils pulled away with a 19-4 overtime margin.
“They had a lot of grit,” Groves said of Russell. “We knew we made mistakes there late in the game to finish it out, but that’s what a veteran club does — they come back, get gritty.
“Granted, shots fell there late. Not necessarily the best shots, but all shots are good when they go in.”
Potter posted a doubledouble with 28 points and 10 rebounds — game highs in each category.
He was 11-for-13 from the field, using strong post moves for most of them.
Raceland coach Bob Trimble felt the Rams didn’t go to Potter often enough in overtime.
“We get it to Rylie first trip (of overtime) ... then the next four trips, we shoot quick jump shots and two 3s,” Trimble said. “We just gotta keep throwing it in there and playing through them.
“Our kids battled. We fought. We had a chance. We should’ve won the ball game. It’s one we let slip away, but I’m proud of my kids.”
Kirk Pence scored 17 points for the Rams (3-3, 0-1 63rd District seeding). He canned 3-pointers on each of Raceland’s first two possessions of the night and the Red Devils missed their first five field goals as the Rams built a quick 11-3 lead on Octvaious Hall’s trey three and a half minutes in.
But Russell (2-4, 1-1 seeding) reeled off eight straight points — six of them on a pair of Austin Clark 3s — and neither team got up more than six through the remainder of regulation.
“We did some good things, but we didn’t sustain anything,” Trimble said. “We’d go on a run, then we’d give up some wide-open looks or foul or make a bad pass and turn the ball over. We just have to learn to continue to apply pressure offensively and defensively, and right now we’re not putting games together.”
Brandon Rose scored 16 points for Russell, including three secondhalf treys. Clark, a former Ram, dropped in 13.
Freshman Charlie Jachimczuk made a series of nice plays to pitch in nine points.
“He’s a freshman, and he’s growing,” Groves said of the younger brother of 2017 Russell graduate Maggie Jachimczuk. “When he steps up and the lights get bright, he doesn’t shy away. He’s a tough kid.”
The series between the next-door-neighbors continues to be neck-andneck — Russell and Raceland had split their previous 16 meetings dating to 2011 coming into the game. They meet again Jan. 11 at Russell.
That’s part of what has proven a taut 63rd District thus far. Russell dropped a competitive contest to Greenup County on Dec. 1. The Musketeers topped Lewis County by six points seven days later.
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