Boys basketball practices at London High School are more spirited, more intense, more meaningful and thus more rewarding these days, that’s because the Red Raiders are on a serious roll.
The team (7-4, 3-3) won its fourth straight game on Wednesday, Jan. 15, with a 79-72 overtime victory over visiting Fairbanks. The Red Raiders showed some grit and fire in pulling out the victory and coach Darren Long credits his team’s success to the work being put in when the bleachers in the gymnasium are empty.
“The most fun part of the season are the practices,” Long said. “Games are fun but they’re more stressful. Our practices are intense and our kids really compete with each other and we’re getting a lot out of them.
“We compete, we drill, we scrimmage and our guys are working hard. Right now we’re going an hour and a half (in practice) and in that time we’re getting a lot of things done.”
In the contest with Fairbanks (1-8) the Red Raiders were able to get good shots and make them, but the Panthers also found baskets easy to come by for most of the contest.
Only four London players scored in the game, but they were significant contributions. Senior Brok Bennett led the way with 28 points, Zac Carey added 22, Zach Anderson finished with 19 and Justin Long reached double digits with 10.
“We worked for that win,” the coach said. “We did some good things. We got a lead, lost it, and then fought back. We knew Fairbanks had three guys that could score, but I just think we wanted it more when it got to overtime.”
The biggest surprise wasn’t the fact that the Red Raiders put up 79 points in the win, but rather it had surrendered 72, the second-highest total of the season. Long isn’t too terribly concerned, especially since the Raiders played their best defense when it mattered the most — in overtime.
“We’re getting better in a lot of areas,” he said. “We still go through stretches where we look good and then have others where we struggle a bit. Defensively we’re hot and cold, Fairbanks was able to hurt us on the inside.
“In overtime though we really picked up the volume on defense.”
The Red Raiders are midway through the regular season and the fact the team still hasn’t played its best is encouraging to London fans.
“I’m sure we’re going to hit some rough spots, but we’ve got some momentum going right now. I think we’re playing well, we’re doing things the right way and finding ways to win.”
London will travel to Madison County foe West Jefferson (1-8, 0-4) on Friday, Jan. 17, for an intra-county Mid-State League Ohio Division tilt which is slated to begin around 7:30 p.m.
“In West Jeff I see a team with potential,” Long said. “Just like Madison-Plains you don’t worry about what the record is. You know it’s going to be a hard-fought game. They’ve got talented players, but we need to worry about London and nobody else.”
West Jefferson 52
The Roughriders (1-8, 0-4) were unable to come up with the first MSL Ohio victory of the season as they fell to the Warriors (6-6, 4-4) on the road on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
West Jefferson was done in by a slow start, which saw them trailing 19-8 after the first quarter.
Matt Jones led the Roughriders with 12 points, while Nick Mendenhall chipped in nine.
Jonathan Alder 53,
Hilliard Darby 38
The Pioneers (6-8) picked up a rewarding non-league win at Hilliard Darby on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
The squad got a total team effort in the win as 10 players scored points in the win, led by Melissa Noel’s 10. Lily Hess had eight, Alex Madry added seven, while Brooke Foster and Mia Zawodny each finished with six.