DAYTON — Fort Loramie spent some of its week before a Division IV district final against Cincinnati Christian doing some reading.
A scouting report wasn’t on the homework list. Instead, articles on a Cincinnati-area newspaper website were.
“We read some articles in the Cincinnati paper earlier this week where they (Cincinnati Christian) were talking state this, state that, and we wanted to make sure we got off to a good start,” Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton said.
The Redskins got off to a good start and had a good finish, which helped them defeat Cincinnati Christian 49-41 on Friday at UD Arena. The victory earns the program its third consecutive district title.
“Just happy for our seniors,” Britton said. “There was a lot of doubt around our program after losing our five seniors last year and getting a late start at basketball (due to the school’s football team making a run to a state semifinal).”
Fort Loramie lost five seniors off last year’s team, which finished 25-3 and lost in a regional final to eventual Div. IV state champion Marion Local.
This year’s Redskins (19-7) are mostly made of varsity newcomers. Seniors Nathan Raterman and Eli Rosengarten saw significant minutes, while senior Carter Mescher played sparingly. Raterman led Fort Loramie with 25 points on Friday while Rosengarten added 12.
“We started 3-4 and were struggling, but for them to keep fighting and keep believing in themselves and this program was huge. I’ve never been more proud of a group of seniors before. They’ve led from the beginning, they’ve never asked questions and they’ve believed in us (coaches).”
Fort Loramie advances to face Jackson Center in a regional semifinal at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Trent Arena in Kettering. The Redskins lost to Jackson Center twice in Shelby County Athletic League play in regular season.
“They’re really, really good,” Britton said of Jackson Center. “… We’re just happy to go back to work tomorrow morning. We want to keep playing, keep getting better. We’ll play anybody at this point.”
Fort Loramie led 23-21 at halftime, but Logan Woods hit a 3-pointer to open the second half and put the Cougars ahead by one point.
The Redskins went on a big run after that. Raterman hit a 3, then Mason Kemper made a bucket to increase Fort Loramie’s lead to 28-24. Raterman then nailed two more 3s to increase the advantage to eight points and cap an 11-0 run.
“That first play Coach ran for us had a lot of screening going on, and there was a lot of confusion on their defense, which left me open for that first one,” Raterman said. “I caught rhythm after that, and the other two followed. They felt good off my hand.”
Cincinnati Christian battled back.
Cameron Rogers drained a 3 before the end of the third quarter, then made a basket and completed a three-point play to tie it 34-34 early in the fourth.
Raterman came up big again. He made a 3 with just over four minutes left in game to put the Redskins ahead for good.
“Nate’s one of the best shooters around,” Britton said. “I told him earlier in the year that shooters shoot, and he locked and loaded after that. He definitely was tonight and made a lot of big-time plays.”
Riley Reutener scored a bucket for Cincinnati Christian to cut the lead to 37-36. The 6-foot-6 post had had a big height advantage inside, but that was the only basket of the night he managed.
Rosengarten hit a shot with 3:29 left to boost Fort Loramie’s lead to 39-36, and the squad pulled away from there with solid free-throw shooting. Nick Brandewie, Rosengarten and Raterman made 6-of-6 free-throw attempts late in the fourth to seal the win.
Fort Loramie downed 15-of-18 for the game. The Redskins shot 15 for 27 (55.6 percent) from the field.
Raterman said the hot shooting is indicative of a lot of growth by the team since the beginning of the season.
“It’s come up a lot,” Raterman said of the team’s offense. “Our younger players on our team know their roles now and they’re taking their shots when they’re open. Those guys stepping up and helping the offense when they’re comfortable helps our offense role.”
Fort Loramie won the rebounding battle 18-17 and had six turnovers to the Cougars’ seven.
“Offensively we executed really, really well,” Britton said. “For us to have (six turnovers) against that type of team, that type of pressure, is just amazing.
“… They’re extremely athletic, but we’ve got athletes too, guys that have played in the state semifinals in football and state championship in baseball. We may not be able to go up and down like that; that’s just not our style. But our kids held their own that way, and we held our own rebounding.”
The teams traded points early, but Fort Loramie went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-6 lead over the Cougars late in the first. Cincinnati Christian scored the last five points of the quarter — including two buckets in the last 40 seconds — to take an 11-6 lead.
Fort Loramie answered with an 8-0 run, which Raterman capped off with a pair of free throws with about six minutes left. Cincinnati Christian responded with a 10-4 run, which Rogers capped off with a basket with 29 seconds left.
Rosengarten scored on a drive as time expired to put the Redskins ahead 23-21 at halftime. He had eight of his 12 in the first half.
Cincinnati Christian finishes 20-6.
Raterman was 9 for 9 from the foul line in the game and 6-of-7 from the field, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
Rogers led Cincinnati Christian with 15 points and Woods (a freshman) had 12.