VANDALIA — Fort Loramie had one of its worst offensive games in the season in a 14-point win over Franklin-Monroe on Saturday. That was partly due to junior forward Kenzie Hoelscher, who was scoreless after missing five close-range shots she usually makes.
Hoelscher said the Redskins — which were the No. 1 ranked team in Division IV in the final Ohio Associated Press poll — wanted to show in a regional semifinal on Thursday they weren’t suffering from any late-season fatigue.
Fort Loramie not only showed it still has plenty of energy but also came up with one of its biggest wins of the season.
The Redskins’ full-court pressure forced Danville into an unofficial 48 turnovers and powered a transition offense that nearly constantly produced baskets in an 84-24 victory at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activity Center.
It’s the team’s 15th win of the season by 50 or more points and its third tournament victory in four games by 60 or more points.
“We talked for three days this week about how we presented ourselves (against Franklin-Monroe) versus how we should be presenting ourselves,” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “I thought the girls did a much better job tonight.
“They were aggressive on offense and defense. I thought on Saturday defensively we were aggressive, but offensively we were on our heels. I thought the girls today were attacking and were aggressive.”
Hoelscher led that aggressiveness. She had several steals and deflected several passes in the first quarter, during which she scored 14 of her game-high 23 points. She finished with five steals and eight rebounds.
“If we would have lost that game (Saturday), I wouldn’t have been satisfied,” Hoelscher said. “I knew after that I need to play for my teammates and I need to play for the seniors. …I have to play every game like it’s my last.
“… We really prepared in practice this week. We were challenging ourselves. Our practice team is just as good as us and that really helps us prepare and come out and play really competitive.”
No matter who in Fort Loramie’s usual 11-man rotation was on the floor, Danville struggled to get the ball up the court. The Blue Devils had nearly 30 turnovers in the first half and trailed 58-15 by halftime.
“I think our defense is where it all starts,” Hoelscher said. “Getting those deflections and steals lead to layups, which really help. We thrive off that energy that we get off our defense.”
Thirteen players scored for Fort Loramie (25-0), which will play in its third consecutive regional final on Saturday.
“Coach always says to give 110 percent when you go on the floor, because someone can always come in for you,” Hoelscher said. “You don’t have to save anything for yourself. You can leave it all on the floor, go rest on the bench, and then you can come back in.”
Danville broke Fort Loramie’s press twice early and scored two baskets to pull within 6-4. The Blue Devils didn’t score for over five minutes after, though, and Fort Loramie rattled off the next 20 points to pull away.
Hoelscher fueled the run and scored eight consecutive points, including a pair of free throws with 2:30 left to boost the lead to 23-4.
“When Kenzie sprints the floor hard, we are an unstoppable team,” Siegel said. “That’s what you saw there in the first quarter.”
Caitlyn Gasson hit a 3 from the left wing with 2:10 left to cap off the 20-0 run and increase the advantage to 26-4.
The Redskins led 31-10 at the end of the first quarter and pushed the lead to 43 points by halftime. The entire second half was played with a running clock, and the Redskins finished with a 16-5 scoring edge in the third quarter and 10-4 advantage in the fourth.
“They were on it today,” Siegel said. “They were feeding off of each other. When one person got a steal, that jacked everybody up and they all wanted to get the next steal, deflection and stuff like that. I cannot say enough about the girls and how hard they played today.
“I’ve said it once this year, but it’s like the girls have a sixth sense with each other. We were trapping when I wasn’t even calling traps in half court at one point. We were doing full-court traps but when it got to half court we were supposed to do a half-court five (defense). But they were feeling it and trapping it, so that’s on them.”
Siegel said she anticipated a better performance on Saturday — but not necessarily a 60-point win.
“We ‘only’ won by 14 (on Saturday), that’s what I hear from everybody,” Siegel said. “I told the girls … I would take (a 14-point district final win) any day of the week. I told them Monday that the games of the 20- or 30-point blowouts are over because you’re in regionals.
“I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I just have to go back to their intensity. Their focus was so good.”
The Redskins (25-0) advance to face Cincinnati Country Day in a Div. IV regional final on Saturday in Vandalia. The Indians beat Tri-Village 64-55 in Thursday’s second semifinal.
Fort Loramie lost to Minster in regional finals the last two years.
“I think (we can win the regional) this year,” Hoelscher said. “We’ll have to work hard in practice tomorrow and focus on the things we need to focus on, but I think we have what it takes if we play our game.”
Marissa Meiring added 14 points for Fort Loramie and had four rebounds and three assists. Ava Sholtis scored 10 points, had five rebounds and five assists. Colleen Brandewie added eight points, all of which came in the second quarter. Senior guard Taylor Ratermann had five assists and four steals in addition to scoring four points.
Danville — which is in eastern Ohio and had about a 230-mile drive to get to Vandalia — finishes 17-8 overall.