VANDALIA — Fort Loramie senior forward Dana Rose said she’ll never forget last March. Five days after winning a regional title, the Redskins found out on their bus ride to Columbus they weren’t going to be playing for a Division IV state title due to COVID-19.
“Devastating,” Rose said. “Very devastating to have happen.”
A year later, the Redskins will finally get their chance to win the Div. IV state championship.
Fort Loramie crushed Tri-Village 61-37 in a D-IV regional final on Saturday at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activity Center to earn its second consecutive regional title and state berth.
The Redskins (27-1) will face Convoy Crestview (23-3) in a D-IV state semifinal at 11 a.m. on Thursday at University of Dayton Arena.
“I know everyone on this team is very excited to get back here, and we just want to pull through to the end,” Rose said. “… It’s been in the back of everyone’s mind. It’s not what we were thinking about the whole season; we were just thinking about today. But now that we’re here, we just want to fight through to the end and work hard.”
Rose, who was shut down in a regional semifinal win over neighboring rival Minster on Thursday, scored a career-high 24 points to lead Saturday’s huge win. She did it while frequently going up in the post against Tri-Village 6-foot-2 senior forward Meghan Downing, who was a first team all-Southwest Ohio selection in Div. IV.
“I guess I just attacked all the time like we were told to,” Rose, who is 6-0, said. “We knew we had to attack on this team to be able to win and pull it out. We knew we had play good defense. So that was just our goal the whole game, to attack and play good defense. Everyone else participated in that.”
Rose scored nine points in the first quarter to lead a 24-10 scoring advantage. She hit 9-of-10 free-throw attempts in the first half and finished with 15 points.
“The thing about Dana, a lot of times she rises to the challenge,” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “… She’s played point guard and forward for us, shoots the 3-pointer and attacks the rim. She can do it all, and I’m proud of her for having a great game.”
Fort Loramie’s early 3-point shooting success helped turn it into a blowout early. Corynn Heitkamp hit two 3’s in the first quarter and Collen Brandewie hit one. Heitkamp hit another 3 in the second to help power an 11-6 scoring edge that pushed the lead to 35-16 at halftime.
“That’s the best I could have hoped for,” Siegel said of Fort Loramie’s start. “Defensively, I thought we were just locked down. It was very hard for them to get a shot off. Offensively, I thought our passes were just crisp, I thought our shooting was crisp.
“We told the girls yesterday and this morning in our shoot-around that we had to take open shots because they were going to play a zone on us and we weren’t going to get interior shots with (Downing) inside. I thought Corynn and Colleen did a tremendous of hitting open shots in those first two quarters.
The Redskins secured the win with a 17-5 scoring edge in the third. Tri-Village sophomore guard Rylee Sagester, who was a first team all-Southwest district selection after averaging 17.4 points per game in regular season, finished with six on Saturday and didn’t score until the fourth quarter.
“We had four different girls on her, and I think that was an advantage for us, having four girls that have lockdown defense,” Siegel said. “… We just asked them to stay on her. We said nose in her belly button all game. She’s a phenomenal shooter, and I don’t want take anything away from her. But our girls did a phenomenal job of not letting her have those open looks she’s used to.”
Heitkamp finished with 15 points while Brandewie finished with 12.
Siegel said she’s happen the squad will now get a chance to win the state title.
“One game at a time, but we’re excited, and we’re excited to be playing at UD,” Siegel said. “It’ll be the first time we’ve ever played on that floor. These girls have worked so hard for this.
“Last year was tough on us, not getting that chance to go. I think these girls are going to grab this moment. They’re going to grab it and they’re going to do everything they can with it.”
Morgan Hunt finished with 10 for the Patriots (23-3) while Downing finished with nine.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.