Girls basketball: Fort Loramie beats Waterford 42-29 for D-IV state title


DAYTON — Fort Loramie was ranked No. 1 all season in Division IV state Associated Press polls.

The squad truly established its superiority on Saturday.

Fort Loramie won the Div. IV state championship by beating Waterford 42-29 at University of Dayton Arena. It’s the second state title in four years for the Redskins, which finish 28-2.

Fort Loramie won the D-IV title in 2021. None of the team’s current seniors were on varsity then, and they and their teammates have worked to get back to state champion form the last three years.

“We put a lot of time and effort into it,” Fort Loramie junior forward Avery Brandewie said. “Our bonds grew closer on and off the court, and that just helps so much. It was a lot of fun playing with friends you grew up with since you were little.”

It’s the fourth state title in program history for Fort Loramie, which has earned 12 state berths. Every title has come since 2013 under the guidance of Carla Siegel, who has been at the helm for 25 years.

“I coach for the girls, I don’t coach for me,” Siegel said. “I’m just so proud for them that they get to experience it. For the seniors, to go out with a win in your last game, that’s something you just hold on to forever. I am extremely proud for them, the program, and all the little girls that were in the stands today that want to play and be like these guys.”

Fort Loramie lost in a regional semifinal two years ago and fell to eventual state champion Tri-Village in a regional final a year ago. This year’s regional came with a scare, but the Redskins overcame an eight-point deficit to beat rival Russia in a semifinal and cruised against Marion Local in a final.

Fort Loramie again fell behind by eight points in the first half of a state semifinal on Thursday but rallied to beat Convoy Crestview 50-41.

“We all have this fire in our stomach and we all want this,” Brandewie said. “Every team that played wants this end goal, but we knew we had to put the extra time in. We were just driven.”

Fort Loramie had all but one starter and three total players back from last season, but the squad got off to a slow start and lost its first game.

The Redskins slowly gained steam and won their final 15 games, including 12 by 20 or more points.

“Our practices are tough,” Fort Loramie senior guard Jaden Rose said. “A lot of us watched teams in the past, and we saw how much fun they had and how hard they worked. That put that drive in our belly. We worked really hard (over the season), got to today, and went out there and got our own.”

Fort Loramie’s full-court press caused problems for Waterford, which committed 20 turnovers. Fort Loramie had 16 steals and scored 26 points off turnovers.

“Our girls look at me and beg to do our diamond press,” Siegel said. “They want it. We told them today before the game we were going to let them shine and excel. …We had to readjust the diamond press and went to more of a man press, and that worked. That way, we weren’t losing players.”

Waterford coach Jerry Close and junior guard Kendall Sury said Fort Loramie’s length and athleticism caused problems. Close said while the team had less turnovers than a semifinal win over Loudonville, the turnovers it made were in the high court and more costly.

“Today, we just weren’t ourselves in the first half,” Sury, who scored a game-high 19 points, said. “… I think if we could have controlled our turnovers in the first two quarters, it would have been a whole different ball game in the second half.”

The second quarter made the difference. Fort Loramie led 11-8 at the end of the first and outscored the Wildcats 9-3 in the second to take a 20-11 halftime lead. The Redskins scored five points in the last 94 seconds, including fast-break baskets by Brandewie and Skyler Albers.

“Coach preaches to jump in the gap, and I had a shorter girl on me, being a taller guard, so I knew I had to stay low, anticipate their passes and jump the gaps,” Brandewie said.

Fort Loramie led 30-21 late in the third, but Brandewie hit a desperation 3 several feet back on the left wing to boost the squad’s lead to double digits heading into the fourth.

“I don’t even know what was going through my mind, I’ll be completely honest,” Brandewie said. “We were running a play for Maddie Shatto, and I saw the time on clock, and I just grabbed the ball out of the air, and I just shot it. …The time running down, so I had to do something.

Waterford pulled within single digits twice in the fourth, but each time senior forward Summer Hoying came up with a basket to solidify the lead. Her last shot came with a jumper with 1:11 left to give the Redskins a 39-28-lead, and Ariel Heitkamp made a layup off a steal 30 seconds later to clinch it.

“She struggled in the first half, picking up two quick fouls, and that bothered her,” Siegel said. “Summer is a perfectionist on the court, in the classroom, and everywhere. I think it was good for her to have that second half, when they were trying to trap us high. She was able to wiggle loose and got some easy baskets for us. I know she’s smiling hugely right now.”

Brandewie also had a team-high eight rebounds and had two blocks and two assists. Hoying finished with eight points and had five assists. Victoria Mescher had seven steals and Shatto had four.

The Redskins shot 19 for 44 (43.2 percent) from the floor while the Wildcats shot 8 for 25 (32 percent). Fort Loramie had a 24-23 rebounding edge, though Waterford 6-foot-4 junior center Avery Wagner had nine rebounds (and five blocks).

Fort Loramie will lose six seniors to graduation: Rose, Hoying, Albers, Morgan Pleiman, Alex Rose and Allyson Holland.

“The thing I love most about the players who graduate is that they stay in touch with me,” Siegel said. “I hope that Jaden stays in touch with me and I haven’t scared them off too much, because I do give some intense looks on the floor.

“I want them to stay a part of the program. I can’t tell you how many text messages I got from former players this week, saying that they remember this feeling and they hope the girls grab it. I just want them to remember how special this moment was and how all their hard work (paid off).

“They do work in practice. Our practices are not easy; they work incredibly hard. I want them to carry that with them the rest of their life. A lot of my players are successful once they graduate college. Hard work pays off, determination pays off. Go get what you want, and enjoy it.

“That’s what some of this senior class has done. Some of these seniors didn’t play these last few games, but they were still at practice working just as hard as everyone else, and I think that’s important for our program.”

Brandewie credited the group for leading the team.

“They’re just amazing people, and I love being with them all the time.”

Waterford, which won the 2022 D-IV title and made its seventh state appearance since 2015, finishes 24-4.

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

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