Two upcoming girls basketball games, Versailles at New Bremen and Fort Loramie at Botkins, have far more significance at this stage in the season than expected.
In fact, boosted by Fort Loramie’s unbeaten 9-0 mark, the four programs have already racked up 32 total victories in five to six weeks of play prior to this season’s calendar year change yesterday.
“Although Minster (9-1) is still the favorite, more balance exists in the Midwest Athletic Conference (MAC) than in recent years,” said Jack Kramer of ScoresBroadcast.com, which will cover the two girls games on Jan. 2 and 4. “And behind Fort Loramie (9-0), the Shelby County Athletic League (SCAL) offers fairly even competition, too.”
ScoresBroadcast.com presents play-by-play of both girls contests on Thursday night at 7:10 p.m. and Saturday afternoon at 2:10 p.m.
The SCAL boys schedule on Friday features Jackson Center (6-1) at Fairlawn (4-2) in a crucial encounter. The loser gets its second league setback. Again, SCORES, the Shelby County Online Radio Entertainment System, webcasts the game at 7:10.
Fairlawn stunned Jackson Center, 56-52, in overtime last year at home and has taken two of the last three versus the Tigers at the Jets gym.
Meanwhile, with a weekend win over West Carrollton, the Sidney boys (8-0) will remain unbeaten heading into their Miami Valley League (MVL) road game at Tippecanoe (6-4) on Tuesday. SCORES is courtside for that contest.
The Red Devils, currently tied for second for the overall MVL title with Stebbins and West Carrollton, are only a game behind Sidney in the standings. Tipp is at Troy on Friday.
Kramer pointed that head coach John Willoughby’s Yellow Jackets have made a habit of winning the tight ones. “Three Sidney triumphs have been by four points and one by five,” he noted. “John has assembled a closely knit group that is doing what it takes at both ends of the floor to produce victories.”
On the evening after New Year’s Day, the Versailles girls, with one loss in the MAC, meet New Bremen, also with a single MAC loss. This is a league battle between two clubs which already have combined for 15 victories. Versailles (8-3) is guided by first-year head coach Tracy White, and New Bremen (7-3) is coached by eight-year mentor Chris Burden.
White, Kramer detailed, assisted Jacki Stonebreaker at Versailles last season after spending the previous two as head coach at New Philadelphia. He pointed out that White compiled a 46-8 record and paced the Quakers to the regional semi-finals in her first year and to the state final four in her second.
Versailles is coming off consecutive wins versus Anna and Russia. The Cardinals have beaten both the Rockets and Raiders from the SCAL, plus Houston.
The Tigers and New Bremen swing into Thursday MAC action which heats up weekly through Feb. 13. Like the last two years, the Minster girls — Div. IV state champions in 2018 and 2019 — appear to be the team to beat in the MAC, Kramer asserted. Wildcats head coach Mike Wiss has guided his club to eight straight triumphs by an average of 30 points.
It’s also no surprise that Carla Siegel’s Fort Loramie girls have a target on their backs in the SCAL. Botkins (8-2), the Skins’ opponent on Saturday afternoon, has reeled off four-straight triumphs and is shooting for its ninth in eleven games. Phil Grove is in his second campaign as Botkins head coach.
The Trojans, who started 10-2 in the 2016-17 season, nipped Fort Loramie at home that year, 37-35. They are hoping history repeats itself three seasons later at the Botkins gym.
However, Saturday’s home club, Kramer stated, is faced with the challenge of solving the Redskins “trapping pressure and overall stifling defense” which have limited opponents to a measly five points per quarter.
So far this year, no team has tallied more than 28 points against Fort Loramie. In their November opener, the Redskins thumped Minster, 47-19.
The Associated Press releases its first statewide girls basketball polls next week. In last season’s final Division IV poll on February 12, 2019, Fort Loramie finished first; Minster, second; and Tri-Village, third.
Kramer and Matt Zircher call the three weekend games on SCORES. Chuck McBee returns with Kramer on Tuesday.