NEW BREMEN — With a big regular-season finale looming and a tough tournament path to earn a district berth, Fort Loramie faced one last tough nonconference opponent on Tuesday in their final tune-up opportunity.
The Redskins showed they can handle adverse situations and make adjustments to earn a hard-fought victory.
Fort Loramie battled back from a 10-point deficit to beat New Bremen 67-59 in overtime and improve to 16-5 overall.
The Cardinals (13-7), which played without starter David Homan, controlled the first half and pushed their lead to 40-30 midway through the third quarter. But the Redskins scored the last 11 points of the quarter to take a 41-40 lead and pushed their lead to as many as five points before New Bremen battled back and forced overtime.
But strong defense in the final seconds of regulation by Fort Loramie prevented New Bremen from getting off a last-second shot, and more strong defense in overtime prevented New Bremen from making a field goal.
“That was a really, really great job by our kids,” Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton said. “We fought through a lot of different things. We had some starters in foul trouble. Weren’t making shots, weren’t making great decisions. We kept battling and playing.”
Ryan Hoelscher hit a 3 from the left corner with a few seconds left in the third to cap off the 11-0 run and give Fort Loramie a 41-40 lead.
Caleb Maurer made a layup with 3:35 left in the fourth to push the Redskins’ lead to 53-48. The teams traded points to a 56-51 score, but the Cardinals scored the last five points, with the tying shot coming from a 3 by Ben Sailer with 1:15 left.
Both squads had missed chances in the final minute, but Fort Loramie regrouped in overtime. Maurer scored a basket and Ethan Keiser made a 3 and 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Fort Loramie’s improved defense without fouling helped in its strong overtime performance.
“For us, it was just getting back to the basics,” Britton said. “We weren’t doing the little things early. We were hip hugging and not getting into gaps and not jumping to the basketball. In the second half, I thought we did much better getting back to our defensive principles. I thought that helped us immensely.”
Maurer, a senior guard, led the squad with 27 points. He scored 33 in a 75-53 win over Coldwater on the team’s senior night on Saturday.
“Everything starts with him,” Britton said. “He’s our leader. We need him to get things done on both ends of the floor, and right now, he’s doing a really nice job of defending. When he defends and plays really hard at that end, his shots seem to fall offensively.
“He’s pretty darn gifted when he wants to get downhill. Right now, he’s finding a good balance between his jump shot and getting downhill.”
Keiser finished with 16 points while Logan Eilerman scored 11.
Fort Loramie was voted the No. 3 seed in the Piqua Division IV sectional. To earn a district berth, the squad will likely have to beat top seed Jackson Center, which it lost to in Shelby County Athletic League play twice, both times by eight points.
Before postseason play, the Redskins will finish regular season by traveling to rival Russia on Friday. The Raiders beat Fort Loramie 47-30 on Jan. 3 and can clinch a share of the league title with a victory on Friday.
Britton said Tuesday was a good tune up for the tough games the squad expects to see in the next few weeks.
“To come over here on the road on a Tuesday and come away with a win like this, it’s huge for us,” Britton said. “… We’re going to have to get off to a better start on Friday (at Russia). We need to control the tempo and take care of the basketball. We didn’t do either of those things the first time. We need to contest things better.
“We’ve got to be ready to get going from the start, which is something we haven’t done in big games this year. Hopefully, we can come out with some energy and some intensity, and compete for the first eight minutes and stay with them from there.”
Tippecanoe 76, Sidney 50
The Yellow Jackets lost their ninth consecutive game on Tuesday in Tipp City.
The Red Devils built a 25-9 lead by the end of the first quarter and led 40-23 at halftime and 57-34 at the end of the third quarter.
Sidney dropped to 7-14 overall and 6-11 in MVL play. No statistics were reported.
Lehman Catholic 48, Tri-County North 31
The Cavaliers won a nonconference game on Tuesday in Lewisburg.
Lehman led 18-6 at the end of the first quarter, 29-6 at halftime and 38-22 at the end of the third quarter.
Donovan O’Leary led Lehman (14-7) with 18 points and six rebounds. Justin Chapman scored 15 points and had 11 rebounds.
Bradford 59, Houston 35
The Wildcats lost a nonconference game on Tuesday in Houston.
Bradford led 10-6 at the end of the first quarter, 35-17 at halftime and 49-25 at the end of the third quarter.
Rusty Vondenhuevel led Houston (3-17) with 17 points.
• Girls basketball
Fort Loramie 46, Marion Local 40
The Redskins, which were again ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press state Division IV poll, outscored the Flyers 10-4 in overtime to win their regular-season finale on Tuesday in Maria Stein.
The teams were tied 6-6 at the end of the first quarter and 10-10 at halftime. The Flyers, which were ranked No. 6 in this week’s D-IV poll, built a lead as high as seven points in the third quarter, but Victoria Mescher scored six points and Jaden Rose hit a 3 to help cut the gap to 23-21 by the end of the quarter.
Fort Loramie used a 15-13 scoring edge in the fourth, thanks in part to making 7-of-7 foul shots, to force overtime.
The Redskins took an early lead in overtime, then made 8-of-12 free throws in the final two minutes to pull away.
Mescher led Fort Loramie (20-2) with 13 points while Avery Brandewie scored 10. Carissa Meyer added eight points.
Fort Loramie made 21-of-26 foul shots.