VANDALIA — Minster dominated the second half of a Division IV regional final on Saturday and ran away to a big win.
The Wildcats scored the first 13 points of the second half to pull away from Fort Loramie in a 38-23 win at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activities Center. It’s the program’s first regional championship and state semifinal berth since 2010 and comes after the team had lost in regional games the last two years.
Minster lost in a regional semifinal to Fort Loramie two years ago and to Jackson Center in a regional final last year.
“Get past this gym, it’s what we were looking forward to,” Minster senior Taylor Kogge said.
The Wildcats advance to face Waterford in a state semifinal next Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Waterford beat Fairfield Christian 47-42 in a regional final on Saturday.
Kogge has been dealing with a nagging tailbone injury all season, which was reaggravated in a district final against Fort Recovery. She didn’t play in a regional semifinal win over Tri-Village on Thursday but helped give Minster an edge in the paint. Kogge and Courtney Prenger, both 6-foot post players, scored six points and 12 points, respectively, in the game.
Minster (24-3) led by two points at halftime but quickly extended its lead in the third quarter. Kogge hit a basket with 7:27 left, then Demaris Wolf followed about 45 seconds later with a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the Wildcats up 23-16.
Wolf made a free throw and a basket, Prenger added two baskets and Alli Fischer made a free throw to cap off a 13-0 run. Marissa Meiring broke Fort Loramie’s scoreless streak with a long jumper with 2:45 left, but the Redskins’ scored only four baskets the rest of the game.
“We couldn’t let them think that they could get back in the game,” Prenger said. “Our inside game was really important, what we’ve preached that all year long. We got into the flow of how Minster offense is supposed to be in that third quarter, and it was really fun.”
Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said the team committed too many turnovers during Minster’s big run.
“We didn’t play really good in the first half, but we were only two points behind, and I thought it was a typical Minster-Loramie game,” Siegel said. “The start of the third quarter, Minster didn’t change anything, we just changed. Too many turnovers, not sticking to the game plan, maybe trying to hard to do too much.”
Wolf added 12 points for the Wildcats, with seven coming in the second half. Meiring, a sophomore, led Fort Loramie with 10 points.
Wolf hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:58 left in the first to give Minster an 8-2 lead. Kennedi Gephart and Taylor Ratermann each scored baskets over the next minute and a half to cut the lead to 8-6 to bring Fort Loramie close.
The Redskins stayed close throughout the rest of the first half. Minster led 12-8 at the end of the first, and neither team scored a basket through the first 4:30 of the second quarter.
Wolf hit a free throw to give Minster a 16-13 lead with 1:51 left in the second, but Taylor Ratermann hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 36 seconds left to tie the score. Ivy Wolf added two free throws with 24 seconds left to give the Wildcats an 18-16 halftime lead.
Fort Loramie finishes 22-6 overall. The Redskins have advanced to regionals eight out of the last nine years and has won regional titles five times.
The Redskins, which were 5-4 in late December, will lose four seniors to graduation: Heather Eilerman, Grace Ruhenkamp, Hattie Meyer and Abby Holthaus.
“I just gave them all a big hug and wished them well,” Siegel said. “They’re four phenomenal people, and I know in their future careers, they’re going to be successful. They’re hard-working, great teammates. They’re going to be successful in their life, and that’s more important than a basketball game, to me.”
Fort Loramie will return the bulk of its team, including Meiring. Siegel said she hopes the returnees can use a loss on the regional stage like Minster did after losing the last two seasons.
“I hope they bottle up the pain that they’re feeling right now and keep that with them for a while, so in the future, on this stage, they don’t want to feel that again,” Siegel said.