SIDNEY — After a slow start against Lehman Catholic on Wednesday, Fort Loramie put away Houston early in a Division IV sectional final on Saturday at Sidney.
The Redskins built a double-digit lead through the first four minutes of the game and cruised to a 68-34 win over the Wildcats to earn a sectional title. Fort Loramie will play in a district final next Saturday. The Redskins lost in a sectional final last year after making the districts each of the previous six seasons.
Fort Loramie led by three points late in the second quarter of a sectional semifinal against Lehman on Wednesday before pulling away to a 59-33 win.
Houston couldn’t keep up from the opening tip on Saturday. Kennedi Gephart hit a 3-pointer and Marissa Meiring made a basket in the first minute to put Fort Loramie up 5-0. Hayden Riesenbeck made two free throws for the Wildcats with 6:55 left, but the Redskins finished the first on a 16-0 run to take a 21-2 lead.
“I was upset with my first six players on Wednesday, but I felt like the first eight players were locked in today,” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “I thought our energy was great today. I can’t say enough about Abby Holthaus. She struggled on Wednesday but came back and had some great offensive rebounds for us and easy put-backs.”
Meiring, who scored 10 points and had a game-high seven steals, said the team was lackadaisical on defense on Wednesday.
“I think as a team we all knew that we needed to come in fired up if we wanted to get farther than last year,” Meiring said. “We just all used that as inspiration and motivation to win. …We really had to focus in (during practice) on Thursday and Friday to get it done here today. It was a team effort for sure.”
Fort Loramie’s lead grew to 35 points early in the third quarter, but Houston was able to cut down the final deficit and prevent the game from ending with a running clock.
Houston junior forward Jess Monnier scored two points and senior forward Sarah Monnier scored four. The sisters combined for 39 points in a win over Triad on Wednesday.
Siegel credited Holthaus for holding down Jess Monnier, who scored 26 on Wednesday.
“Jessica Monnier is a great player,” Siegel said. “… Abby did a great job on her, and Kenzie Hoelscher did as well. I just felt like our first eight today was getting up and down the floor in transition and got a lot of easy baskets. Defensively, we took them out of their game plan. They had a hard time even getting a shot off.”
Hoelscher came off the bench and led the Redskins with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Holthaus had 12 points and four rebounds. Kennedi Gephart also added 12 points. Eight other players scored for the Redskins and four others who didn’t score got playing time.
“It’s nice when you can get a lead and get some of the JV girls in,” Siegel said. “Even though you’re worried about this year only, you’re building for the future, and this a good way to get things going down the road, for them to get playing time at this stage.”
Fort Loramie will face either Cedarville or Southeastern in a district final game next Saturday at Troy. The two Ohio Heritage Conference schools will face off in a sectional final on Monday night at Monroe.
“Getting up and down the floor (like today) is absolutely something that can help us down the road,” Siegel said. “We have speed, and we have to use it. I don’t think we used it very effectively against Lehman in the first half. It felt like our girls were jogging. Today, they were more crisp.”
Fort Loramie shot 27 for 51 (52.9 percent) from the field, had 16 team steals and outrebounded Houston 29-24. The Wildcats shot 11 for 37 (29.7 percent) from the field.
Hollie Voisard and Rebekah New each scored eight points for Houston while Riesenbeck scored seven. The Wildcats finished with 29 turnovers, which led to 28 points by Fort Loramie.
Houston finishes 8-16 overall. They’ll lose four seniors to graduation: Sarah Monnier, Morgan Ely, Chare Jeffries and New.