SIDNEY — Riverside coach Bryce Hodge joked following a tournament matchup with top seed Fort Loramie on Monday at Sidney High School that the Redskins could beat some college teams.
While the statement would be a bit hyperbolic applied to most good high school teams, Fort Loramie showed again it may not be far from the truth.
The Redskins scored the first eight points in a Division IV district semifinal against Riverside, led by 19 points at the end of the first quarter and cruised to a 66-6 running-clock victory.
It’s the 14th time this season Fort Loramie (23-0) has won with a margin larger than 50 points.
“They’re so skilled,” Hodge said. “All 15 of them played, and I didn’t see a drop off from the 15th girl to the first girl in how hard they play and how hard they work. They all can dribble the ball, they all play great man-to-man defense. They’re in the greatest shape of anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Monday’s dominating win came due to the Redskins’ stifling defense. They pressed throughout the first half on their way to building a 43-6 halftime lead, finished the night with 29 steals and forced Riverside into 44 turnovers.
“We’ve been working a lot on our half-court defense and trying to get as many deflections as possible,” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “We want to get turnovers to get into our transition offense, and I thought the girls did a good job of that tonight. I thought they did a good job on containing their girls and making them make some passes that we could get deflections on. I was happy with that.”
Tournament games are played with continuous clocks in the second half once the margin reaches 35 points. With the running clock and Fort Loramie’s continued tough defensive pressure, the Pirates didn’t score in the half.
“I can’t even put into words how good they are and how impressive they are,” Hodge said. “It’s fun to watch when I was scouting them, but in the game, I didn’t enjoy it so much tonight.”
Siegel said the performance is indicative of the team’s progress this season as well. The team previously hadn’t held on opponent to less than 12 points.
“We have our growing pains just like any other team and have things we have to work on,” Siegel said. “We’ve really been working on our half-court defense, and I think today it was solid. I think we definitely shook their players; I think they were frustrated. There were times when they’d get by one (of our) girls, but there was another wave right there waiting for them.”
Fort Loramie, which was ranked No. 1 in Div. IV in the final state Associated Press poll, advances to face Franklin-Monroe in a Div. IV district final on Saturday at Troy High School. The Jets beat Troy Christian 43-23 in a district semifinal on Monday in Brookville.
It’s the third consecutive season the squad has advanced to a district final and the tenth time in the last 11 seasons.
Riverside, which was the sectional’s No. 8 seed, finishes 13-11 overall. The squad beat Jackson Center last week for its first tournament victory in 10 years.
“I’m proud of them for the improvement we made,” Hodge said. “That’s what I told them in the locker room. They have a lot to keep their heads high about. We had a good season, even though tonight was rough.”
The Pirates, which finished second in the Northwest Central Conference, should return most of its 14-member roster, including junior guard Lauryn Sanford and freshman forward Amber Waters, who were all-NWCC selections.
“I’m definitely excited,” Hodge said. “We just have to put in the work. If we do that, hopefully we’ll keep improving on what we’ve done the last two years.”
Riverside will lose one senior to graduation in guard Jordyn Marshall.
“She brought leadership,” Hodge said. “She didn’t play as a sophomore and came back last year and played the entire year on JV and dressed varsity. She worked hard this year being on varsity full time and is a leader for our girls, and we’re going to miss those qualities dearly. But softball is her favorite sport, so I’m excited to watch her kick some butt on the softball field this spring.”
Dana Rose led Fort Loramie with 14 points and had five rebounds and five steals. Kennedi Gephart scored 12 points and had eight assists and five steals. Kenzie Hoelscher scored 12 points and Caitlyn Gasson had seven steals.
The Redskins shot 28 for 54 (52 percent) from the floor and outrebounded Riverside 20-10.
Sanford and Kirstin Schlumbohm each scored three points for Riverside. The Pirates shot 2 for 13 from the floor.
Mechanicsburg 59, Botkins 29
No. 3 seed Botkins couldn’t keep up with No. 2 Mechanicsburg in Monday’s second district semifinal in Sidney. The Indians scored the first 13 points, built a 17-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and then used a 21-9 scoring edge in the second to take a 38-16 halftime lead.
“We definitely had a slow start tonight,” Botkins coach Phil Groves said. “We called a couple timeouts there to try to spark our offense a little bit, but offensively we just struggled the entire game.”
Mechanicsburg used a 14-6 scoring edge in the fourth to push its lead to 30 points, and each squad scored seven points in the fourth.
Botkins committed 15 turnovers and shot 7 for 40 (18 percent) from the floor. Mechanicsburg outrebounded the Trojans 44-28.
“Their defense really got after it, put a lot of pressure on us and tried to take away what we wanted to accomplish offensively,” Groves said. “They had constant trapping. We prepared for it and knew it was coming, but it was tough.”
Botkins finishes 16-8 overall. The Trojans, which finished third in the Shelby County Athletic League, will lose two seniors to graduation in Kinley Topp and Madison Gerstner.
“We can’t let this game (define us),” Groves said. “It’s not the way we wanted to end the season, but we had a great year. …I think we tied for fifth-most winningest season in Botkins history.
“… I’d like to thank our seniors. They’ve been with us for four years, and I appreciate all their commitment and effort through the years.”
The Trojans should return most of their 13-member roster and all five starters, including Carmen Hueker, who was an all-SCAL selection.
“We have a young corps, and hopefully this leads to experience, so next year if we’re in a situation like this, we learn from it and perform better,” Groves said.
Hueker led Botkins with 14 points.
Grace Forrest led Mechanicsburg with 22 points, 14 of which came in the first half. Kasey Schipfer scored 17 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds and six assists with three steals. The Indians shot 18 for 44 (41 percent) from the floor.
Mechanicsburg (22-2) advances to face Cincinnati Country Day in a district final on Saturday in Troy.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.