TROY — Fort Loramie had a slow start in a Division IV district final against Cedarville on Saturday at Troy’s Trojans Activities Center. It’s something the team, which is full of underclassmen, has had happen at other points this year.
The previous slow starts haven’t hampered the team much — and have proved the squad is capable of taking off at a moment’s notice. Cedarville found out just how fast things can get out of hand.
Fort Loramie used a 10-point scoring advantage in the third quarter to spark a 57-45 win over the Indians, which earns the team a district title. The Redskins advance to face Covington in a regional semifinal next Thursday at Vandalia-Butler.
Fort Loramie (21-5) had made district finals each season from 2007 to 2016 before losing to Russia in a sectional final last season.
Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said starting seniors Hattie Meyer and Abby Holthaus wanted the team to not only return to districts but get back to regionals, which the Redskins did from 2010-2016.
“Last year left a bad taste in their mouth,” Siegel said. “I can’t credit Meyer and Abby enough and even Heather (Eilerman) and Grace (Ruhenkamp), even though they don’t play, but they’re seniors and keep our practices and our girls on point. We’re here because of our seniors. I know our talent is in underclassmen, but our seniors are driven, and they’re the ones that got us here today.”
Freshman forward Kenzie Hoelscher, who led the Redskins with 14 points, said last year’s early exit left a bad taste with the team’s returnees.
“I think it was really important for everyone,” Hoelscher said. “… They just wanted to come out and get farther than they had last year. They, especially the seniors, didn’t want to end the season that early this year.”
Cedarville led 22-20 at halftime but the Redskins took control by the end of the third quarter. Fort Loramie started on an 11-6 run to take a 31-28 lead with 5:07 left, which prompted Cedarville coach Josh Mason to call a timeout.
It didn’t stop the Redskins.
Sophomore forward Marissa Meiring hit a basket and made a free throw with 1:29 left in the third to put Fort Loramie up 36-30, then Holthaus hit a long jumper at the buzzer to increase Loramie’s lead to eight points.
“We went in at halftime and I told the girls two things,” Siegel said. “I said ‘We fix two things and we’re going to be okay. Make better passes and come to the ball, take care of that, and number two rebound better.’ We were getting outrebounded in the first half.
“…I thought our passes got better and our offense got cleaner. Once we took care of those two issues, I thought we were a different team.”
Hoelscher scored Fort Loramie’s first six points of the fourth quarter, including a basket off the glass on a drive down the lane with 4:44 left that put the team up 44-33.
“Everyone spread the floor, and we were going up and down the floor well,” Hoelscher said. “I got it and just went in there. It just happened.”
Fort Loramie made 7-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter to help the secure the win as Cedarville tried to rally.
It’s the third consecutive district final loss for the Indians, which have relied on senior guard Ise Bolender for much of the last three years. Bolender scored 14 points on Saturday.
“They made the plays that they needed to and they executed at the end,” Mason said of Fort Loramie. “It’s just a very disciplined ball club. When you tried to trap them, they knew what was going to happen. When you tried to press them, they knew how to break it. When you foul them at the end of the game, they made their free throws. That’s a disciplined team there. Hat’s off to them.”
Holthaus finished with 13 points for the Redskins while Kennedi Gephart scored 12. Meiring finished with nine points and a team-high seven rebounds, while Hoelscher brought down six rebounds.
Fort Loramie shot 20 for 43 (46.5 percent) from the field and Cedarville shot 16 for 44 (36.4). The Redskins finished with a 33-21 rebounding edge after Cedarville won the rebounding battle 14-12 in the first half.
The Redskins will face Covington (20-6) at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Butler’s Student Activities Center. The Buccaneers beat Xenia Legacy Christian 54-42 in Saturday’s second district final.
Covington is led by junior point guard Sammi Whiteman, who scored 23 points on Saturday.
“I think everybody in the entire state of Ohio knows how good Sammi Whiteman is,” Siegel said. “Then they’ve got (Jordan) Crowell, who’s a deadly 3-point shooter. We’re going to have to get game film ready and get ready for that. It’s a big game. Anytime you get this far in tournament, it’s a big game. There’s no easy game in tournament.”
Maggie Coe led Cedarville with 17 points. The Indians finished with a 20-6 record.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.