ScoresBroadcast: Jackson Center, Loramie boys and D-IV girls districts to be broadcast Saturday


The phrase “Get out of Dodge” comes from the old time Western movies in which Dodge City, Kansas, was a place from where the sheriff exhorted bad guys to leave.

In other words, the message to the so-called criminals was, more or less, “Scram. Count your blessings and cut your losses.”

In the world of boys Division IV high school basketball, there’s probably no town tougher to leave in Ohio without a loss than Piqua.

It’s like Dodge City where the good guys try their best to knock you off and usually make the ambush a success.

Over the last dozen years or so, no one has been more successful than Fort Loramie and Jackson Center in “getting out of Dodge,” maybe wounded, but still holding at least slight winning margins, shoot-out after shoot-out.

The two clubs collide on Saturday night in a sectional title, now today referred to by the OHSAA as a district semifinal, even though the “district” is played at the UD Arena next Wednesday and Friday.’s air time Saturday evening from Piqua is at 5:30. Tipoff is at 6.

Online coverage of high school tournament basketball begins on Saturday at 12:30 with the Fort Loramie girls meeting Covington and the Russia girls meeting Xenia Legacy Christian for district championships. The winners lock horns next Thursday in a regional semifinal.

Boys coaches Corey Britton of Fort Loramie, 18-6, and Scott Elchert of Jackson Center, 23-1, have earned many thrilling and rewarding sectional titles in the past. Under Britton, the Redskins won five straight from 2016 through 2020, nipping Russia twice. Fort Loramie also edged the Raiders in a region semifinal along the way. Two other sectional final triumphs came at the expense of Ansonia.

In fact, over an eight-year span dating back to 2013, Fort Loramie rolled to victories in seven of eight sectional title tilts.

The state champion Botkins Trojans bumped out Fort Loramie in 2021 and Jackson Center topped the Redskins on a Camdyn Reese buzzer-beater last February.

By the way, that triumph by Jackson Center in the 2022 sectional championship was the Tigers’ ninth in eleven years, over which they posted a 93 percent winning mark at Piqua. The only two sectional final contests the Tigers dropped were in 2014 and 2018 to Russia. The Tigers were 6-6 in the Shelby County Athletic League both seasons.

The Tigers defeated Fort Loramie, 61-48, for the 2015 sectional crown. They got past very good Fairlawn teams in 2016 and 2017. They downed Russia in 2019 and 2021.

That 27-1 Tigers squad in 2012 also ousted Fairlawn in the third game at Piqua and then streaked to the state final four in Columbus before losing to Berlin Hiland in the title match.

In 2021 and 2022, the Tigers dropped very close, hard-fought district tussles to Cedarville and Springfield Catholic Central.

As you might expect, the majority of the Fort Loramie and Jackson Center sectional victories were by two possessions or less, making sure the teams licked some wounds each year before getting out of Piqua.

This sectional’s competition is always fierce, especially on the second weekend. Shots, passes, and even dribbles are tightly contested. Defense can dominate. Often, SCAL teams must tangle for a third scrap in a few months.

Numerous times, the Piqua tournament field has included two, three, and even four programs ranked in the top 20 in the state. This year, two SCAL schools finished in Ohio’s D-IV top ten. Jackson Center was third and Russia was sixth in the final AP poll. Fort Loramie was in and out of the top ten as the season progressed.

Expect tonight’s clash, a rematch of last year’s sectional final, to end with drama, too.

Caleb Maurer nailed a floater in the lane to lift Fort Loramie to a one-point lead with just over ten seconds to go in the game. Reese retaliated for the Tigers, who eked it out, 42-41.

Fort Loramie trailed by double digits entering the fourth quarter of that contest. But the Tigers buckled under the Redskins pressure and suffered numerous empty possessions while committing several turnovers.

Fortunately for Jackson Center, Coach Elchert’s crew had built a seven-point lead at halftime and an 11-point cushion after three.

In the end, free throws decided the verdict. The Piqua tourney atmosphere was extremely tense all night. Piqua’s gymnasium was packed to the top rows. The Tigers cashed in on 15-of-19 at the stripe; the Redskins were shaky, only 6-of-13.

Thus, Jackson Center avenged two regular season losses to Fort Loramie by winning the 2022 Battle of Piqua.

Returning to the scene of that tenacious Garbry Gym struggle this evening are Reese and Maurer, along with sharpshooters Jace Mullenhour and Ethan Keiser — plus a host of others who can drain shots from nearly anywhere on the floor.

Jackson Center handled a monstrous Marion Local squad during the season. With 6-4 Logan Eilerman and the emergence of 6-5.5 Austin Pleiman, Fort Loramie represents the second biggest club the Tigers will confront all year. JC can counter with fast-improving Reed Platfoot, a 6-5 sophomore. The burly Reese is 6-3.

The Tigers’ 6-2 Nolan Fark and the Redskins’ 6-3 Ryan Hoelscher are important playmakers to watch as well.

You know that someone, as the war on the hardwood winds down, will step up and fire the jump shot to take down the opponent in one of the loudest and very best sectional tourney settings in the state.

Who will be ready for Prime Time in Piqua? Who will get out of Dodge still standing?

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