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It shocked, it amazed, it thrilled but the playoff run is over

Sophomore John McCarty drives to the basket as head coachTom Risi, right, watches, but McCarty could not penetrate the Líanse Creuse North defense. Photo by G. O (click for larger version)
March 28, 2012 - Unexpected, unlikely, unheard of and now it's over as of a 46-40 loss on March 20.

The Dragons Boy Basketball Playoff run was the farthest an Orion basketball team has ever gotten and they did it with a first year coach and a young team consisting of just two starting seniors. This season followed a 2011 season of dismal losses and a losing record and somehow in one short year the Dragons have turned around to make school history.

It seems as if they're set to do it again next year.

"This season has been well above expectations," said Head Coach Tom Risi. "We won three games the year before. I thought it would take a couple years to get this program where we wanted it and we came so much further than I thought.

"On top of it, we're returning a lot of starters to our bench and next year is looking like it's going to be great. We even have some great kids coming off JV so we should have a strong team."

The game against the L'Anse Creuse North Crusaders was anything but a defeat. The Dragons start the game with a lead which they didn't let up more than twice the first three quarters.

Yet in the fourth quarter things took a turn and the Dragons suddenly found great difficulty on offense. Meanwhile, the Crusaders drove to the basket and thanks to seemingly superior agility were able to outmaneuver the Dragons.

Despite the loss, Risi said some of the players put forth some of their best effort at the game, which took place at University of Detroit Mercy's Callahan Hall.

"They were much more physical than we were and we just didn't respond the way I hoped we would," said Risi. "It was hotter than heck too, but the team was just a little stronger and in the fourth they wanted it more. We dried up in the fourth quarter, we had issues shooting and we just couldn't match them toe to toe."

Sophomore John McCarty and junior Chaz Miller led the scoring while Miller managed to put forth his best defensive effort of the year. Risi added junior Damonte Kruse "played his heart out."

Still, as a first year coach, Risi called his integration into Orion a great experience.

"I met a lot of great people and we have an athletic director who is committed and supportive," he said. "I enjoyed the people, the kids and I have no complaints. I'm just looking forward to next year.

"I hope we can keep this going."

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