Girls basketball: Despite gritty effort, Fort Loramie falls 32-30 to Tri-Village in regional final


VANDALIA — Fort Loramie and Tri-Village each had opportunities to pull away. Instead, a defensive fight — with lots of missed shots — came down to the final seconds.

A regional final between the state’s top two ranked Division IV teams was decided in the Patriots’ favor when a heave at the buzzer by Fort Loramie junior guard Carissa Meyer rimmed out.

Though the Redskins lost 32-30 to Tri-Village, any disappointment was limited.

Few predicted Fort Loramie, which lost six players to graduation off last year’s 25-win team and returned one starter, would come so close to earning a state berth.

And the Redskins came so close on Saturday without Avery Brandewie, who averaged about 12 points and eight rebounds per game. Brandewie suffered a knee injury with about three minutes left in the first quarter and didn’t return.

“Our girls worked really hard to (improve and become this good),” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “… The grit and determination of this group, they showed it again. To lose Avery for three quarters, and for us to lose by 2, that’s an amazing stat right there. She means so much to our team. I was proud of the effort our girls gave while she was missing.”

Fort Loramie had built a 7-2 lead, but Tri-Village was already in the midst of a run when Brandewie left the game and continued it to take a 14-9 lead by the end of the quarter.

But the Redskins kept fighting without Brandewie. They scored five straight to pull within 16-13 midway through the second and led twice in the second half.

“So many times this year, we would get down in the second or the third quarter, and this team, it just doesn’t faze them,” Siegel said. “They just keep plugging and keep working. They’re just determined. They work so hard.

“We came back in most of those games and won, so when we got down by six or seven or whatever, their was no panic button for anybody.

“… This team, if I had a word for them, would be perseverance. They persevere.”

Neither squad scored in the last four minutes of the second quarter, and the Patriots didn’t score in the first three minutes of the third.

The Redskins took a 17-16 lead, but after a timeout, Tri-Village scored six points in 90 seconds, including a long 3-pointer from senior guard Rylee Sagester.

The Patriots added another basket to push their lead to 24-17, but Fort Loramie scored the last eight points of the quarter to take a 25-24 lead. The Redskins were able to force a couple of turnovers to power the run, including a steal and score by Skyler Albers.

A free throw by Sagester was the lone point in the first three minutes of the fourth, but after Turner made a basket to give Fort Loramie a 27-25 lead, Sagester hit two long 3s to put the Patriots ahead 31-27.

Turner made a basket after a steal to pull Fort Loramie within 31-29 with about 2:15 left, then Victoria Mescher split a pair of free throws to cut the gap to 31-30 with 44 seconds left.

Tri-Village struggled to get the ball passed half court against Fort Loramie’s full-court press. After a timeout, the Patriots were called for a 10-second violation, but the officials then huddled and decided Tri-Village coach Brad Gray called a timeout before the violation.

“We heard the official at the (half-court) line blow his whistle before the other official blew his whistle (for the timeout),” Siegel said. “That’s what our bench heard. We believe the 10-second call should have been held.

“But we can’t control the things we can’t control, so we told the girls to just play defense and try to get a five-second call. But that would have been a huge momentum change if that had gone our way.”

The Patriots got the ball across half court, and then Fort Loramie had to commit a few fouls to get to six for the half and send Tri-Village to the free-throw line.

Tri-Village freshman forward Kynnedi Hager missed a 1-and-1 with 14 seconds left, and the Redskins grabbed the rebound. They raced down the court and missed two shots before Hager, who is 6-foot-3, grabbed a rebound and drew a foul.

“I thought our girls did a good job attacking the rim,” Siegel said. “We wanted to attack the rim and get some baskets. We got those rebounds and needed to put one of those in, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Hager made one free throw but missed a second. Fort Loramie got the rebound and threw the ball to Meyer, who put up a heave that rimmed out at the buzzer.

Turner led the squad with eight points, including the two baskets in the fourth quarter. She was the squad’s lone returning starter.

Turner was named first team all-Southwest district in D-IV this season and was voted Shelby County Athletic League player of the year.

“She wanted this game,” Siegel said. “This was her last game in this jersey possibly, and she wanted it. She leads by example on the floor and plays great defense when she needs to and attacks the rim very well. I’m glad she had a great second half for us.”

Fort Loramie, which was ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press D-IV state poll, finishes 25-3 overall. Turner is one of three seniors the squad will lose to graduation; guards Olivia Mescher and Alexis Koverman will also graduate.

Tri-Village, which was ranked No. 1 in the final AP D-IV state poll of the season, averages 67 points per game and hadn’t scored less than 47 in a contest this year.

The Patriots’ scoreless period through the second and third quarter lasted about nine minutes.

“They tried to keep it out of Rylee’s hands. I think it makes it easier to locate when you’re playing like that,” Gray said. “They were able to keep her in their sight a lot of the time. Something we like to try to do is get it out of her hands, so eyes are off of her, and then we get it back to her. We had a hard time doing that tonight.

“If we make some bunnies, and I’m sure they’re saying this too, but my goodness, we missed a lot of easy ones that could have made this game a lot easier for us.”

It’s the state berth Tri-Village (28-0) has been waiting for after losses in regional finals the last two years and a semifinal in 2020. Sagester and Morgan Hunt are four-year varsity players, and senior guard Torie Richards is a multiple-year varsity player.

“Our response to when things don’t go our way has been pretty poor (in previous seasons), and that’s been a focal point to our kids (this year),” Gray said. “We have to be able to respond. Our body language has to be better when things aren’t going their way, and our response has to be better.”

Sagester finished with 17 points and Torie Richards finished with eight.

The Patriots will face Berlin Hiland in a state semifinal at 8 p.m. on Thursday at University of Dayton Arena. Hiland beat Portsmouth Notre Dame 53-43 in a regional final on Saturday night in Pickerington.

Tri-Village lost to Hiland in a state semifinal in 2012, the only other time the program has earned a state berth.

Saturday was the sixth time since 2010 the Patriots and Redskins have faced off in regional finals.

Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

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