TROY — Kenzie Hoelscher’s medal collection is quite sizeable after four years of playing volleyball and basketball at Fort Loramie. The collection got another addition on Saturday — and Hoelscher said getting a medal still felt as good as it did when she first picked one up four years ago.
“It never gets old,” Hoelscher said.
Fort Loramie blasted Cincinnati Country Day in the second half of a Division IV district final on Saturday at Troy High School’s Trojan Activities Center and captured its fourth consecutive district title with a 50-16 win.
Hoelscher and fellow senior forwards Dana Rose and Jadyn Puthoff have been varsity players for the last four years, while senior Caitlyn Gasson, Corynn Heitkamp have been three-year varsity players.
“It’s a good nucleus and a good group,” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “They are determined and they are focused. They’re a fun group to be around. I’m fortunate and I’m full of gratitude for what they give us each and every day.”
It’s the 11th district title in 12 years for the program, which will try to earn its second consecutive regional title this weekend at Vandalia-Butler High School.
The Redskins (25-1) will face neighboring rival Minster in a D-IV regional semifinal on Thursday and if victorious will face the winner of Tri-Village vs. Xenia Legacy Christian in a regional final on Saturday.
Minster is back in the Southwest region after playing in the Northwest region last year. The Wildcats beat Fort Loramie in regional finals in 2018 and 2019. Both squads won regional titles last year and could have faced off in the D-IV state final, but COVID-19 derailed the state tournament.
“We’ve played them a lot in the last four years — six times,” Siegel said. “They’re all friends. They all play AAU together. The commonality between our two schools and our basketball tradition is very similar. I think it’s going to be a phenomenal game, and I hope there’s going to be more people there to watch it.”
Hoelscher scored the first three baskets on Saturday, and the Redskins took a 17-4 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Fort Loramie struggled in the second. Both teams scored six points, resulting in a 23-10 halftime score.
It was reminiscent of the squads’ regional semifinal matchup last year. Fort Loramie took a 16-4 lead that night before Country Day used a 10-8 scoring edge in the second to take momentum before halftime. The Nighthawks pulled as close five points in the second half before the Redskins pulled away to a 16-point win.
“We went into the locker room and talked about how last year when we played them they had the momentum in the second half,” Hoelscher said. “We didn’t want to let that happen again. We talked about all the things we need to do better, and everyone came out in the second half and did those things.”
Fort Loramie held Country Day (16-2) scoreless until the final 20 seconds of the third quarter and scored the first 12 points to take a 35-12 lead. They closed out the win with a 15-4 advantage in the fourth.
“I challenged the girls in there (at halftime),” Siegel said. “I said, ‘You came out gangbusters in the first quarter and in the second quarter, you just kind of played to their level.’ We weren’t attacking anymore. We had a couple girls in foul trouble, but I still believe our team is still good enough (with them on the bench) to keep playing at that (first-quarter) level.
“We lost our focus there for a second. In the second half, our aggression and our attacking was back, and that was the difference.”
Hoelscher, who was named Shelby County Athletic League player of the year in February, scored 16 points. Puthoff and Colleen Brandewie each scored eight.
One highlight for the squad came in the final minutes when junior forward Ava Sholtis entered the game. It was the first game she’s played in this season (though she was inserted during a free-throw attempt in a sectional tournament game).
Sholtis started as a sophomore but missed all the season before Saturday due to tearing an ACL during a volleyball match in August.
“That was great,” Siegel said. “She just got cleared to start playing and practicing. I don’t know how much game time she’s going to be getting in the next few weeks, but we’re hoping she can progress and help us out if needed. We definitely have missed her.”
All of Fort Loramie’s first four tournament games have come by running-clock margins. That’s not likely to continue this weekend in Vandalia — but Hoelscher said she’s confident the team’s winning streak will.
“We’re just going to have to buckle down,” Hoelscher said. “We played (Minster) earlier this season and we obviously had some things we had to work on, and we have. They’re a better team now, too. So we’re just going to have to focus these next few days in practice and do the things we need to do to win the game.”