VANDALIA — Hamilton New Miami led the 12-team Miami Valley Conference this season with an average of 69.2 points per game. The Vikings had success scoring in tournament games — until they ran into one of the Shelby County Athletic League’s best defensive teams.
Fort Loramie’s man-to-man defense kept New Miami away from the basket for much of a Division IV district final on Friday at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activity Center and didn’t allow for many offensive rebounds.
The Redskins’ offense had no problems against whatever defense New Miami tried. Fort Loramie scored the game’s first seven points and ran away in the second half to a 59-37 victory.
It’s the fourth consecutive district title for Fort Loramie (18-7), which has advanced to district finals the last five seasons.
“I can’t speak enough about our kids,” Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton. “They’d run through a brick wall for each other. I love them to death, and I don’t know if I express that enough to them. Our kids are awesome. They listen and do anything you ask them to do. When you’ve got kids like that, anything is possible.”
The Redskins had their third-best scoring night of the season. That’s largely due to scoring 25 points in the last 11 minutes after New Miami tried a full-court press.
Fort Loramie had built a 13-point lead before New Miami made the switch. The Redskins consistently passed over defenders for easy and quick baskets and pushed their lead to as many as 25 points in the fourth.
“We wanted to be aggressive against pressure,” Britton said. “We wanted to pass the ball ahead. We knew if we dribbled the ball a lot we could get in trouble with their speedy athletes. I was really proud of the way our guys executed.”
The execution occurred on defense as well. New Miami managed four field goals in the first half and got most of its points thanks to 9-of-12 shooting at the free-throw line.
The Vikings hit one 3-pointer on the night and couldn’t find many shots in the post. They weren’t helped on offense by the fact that Fort Loramie largely dominated rebounding.
“They’re known to jerk a lot so we wanted to just get back, get a hand up and use our length to our advantage,” Fort Loramie junior guard Caeleb Meyer said. “If they hit a couple in front of us, just live with it. …We worked a lot on box-out drills this week. We worked a lot on defense and box-out drills against our scout team, and they pushed us hard.”
Meyer led the Redskins with 17 points while Nate Meyer scored 14 and Damon Mescher scored nine. Five other players scored.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Britton said. “When we’re consistent, we’re tough to beat.”
Fort Loramie advances to face Columbus Wellington School in a regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday at University of Dayton Arena. Wellington beat Sugar Grove Berne Union 69-45 in a district final on Thursday at Ohio Dominican.
“They’re really good,” Britton, who has scouted Wellington, said. “We’ll have our hands full.”
Caeleb Meyer said the squad is hoping to keep the tournament run going on Tuesday but added it has already accomplished a lot after a 5-3 start.
“This feels amazing,” Meyer said. “People doubted us this year and didn’t think we’d make it this far, but we proved them wrong.”
Fort Loramie led 25-17 at halftime. Deanza Duncan made a 3-pointer with 6:36 in the third quarter to pull the Vikings within 25-20, but the Redskins pulled away by scoring nine points in a minute.
Caeleb Meyer started the run with a 3 with 4:45 left, then Nate Mayer made a basket and free throw with 4:21 left. Mescher capped off the run with a basket with 3:43 left to give Fort Loramie a 33-20 lead.
“We talk every night that the first few minutes of the third quarter is huge,” Britton said. “We’ve got to be able to throw the first punch, and our kids just made plays again.”
New Miami started to press late in the first half, and Fort Loramie quickly ran away. The Redskins scored the last seven points of the third quarter to take a 45-28 lead into the fourth and further extended its lead in the final minutes.
Fort Loramie started the first quarter with a 7-0 run, which Grant Albers capped off with a short jumper with 5:40 left. The Vikings hit five free throws the rest of the way, though, to power a 7-3 run to end the quarter and pull within 10-7.
Nate Meyer made a layup and 20 seconds later Caeleb Meyer hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Fort Loramie a 17-9 lead with 4:39 left. Nate Meyer and Mescher made consecutive baskets to boost the squad’s lead to 23-14 with 1:37 left.
New Miami finishes 20-6 overall. Jordan Robinette led the squad with 13 points while Duncan scored 12.