There’s no other Division IV team in Southwest Ohio with the experience Fort Loramie has at playing at UD Arena. The Redskins will be playing in their third consecutive district final at 9:30 p.m. on Friday at UD Arena against Middletown Christian.
The big lesson from previous trips according to Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton is never to take anyone lightly. That’s something he’s reminding the team of this week as they prepare to face Middletown Christian, which is 6-18 and had lost nine consecutive games before tournament play started.
“It’s tournament time, so a lot of the top seeds or a lot of the good teams have struggled at one point or another,” Britton said. “We just need to come ready to play every night, and hopefully we’ll keep the train running.”
Fort Loramie (23-2) is the only D-IV team that’s made a district final each of the last three years. The Redskins lost in an overtime thriller to Southeastern in 2016 and beat Lockland by 26 points last year.
Many of Fort Loramie’s players have come up with big performances in the last two district games. Senior guard Dillon Braun scored 19 points last year while senior post players Tyler Siegel and Austin Siegel tallied 17 and 11 points, respectively.
Tyler Siegel scored 19 points and had 15 rebounds against Southeastern two years ago, while Braun and senior guard Evan Berning each scored 15 points.
“Every year is a new year, so you never know what you might encounter,” Britton said. “Friday night will be a brand new game, and nothing in the past will help you.
“… It does help that we’ve been to UD Arena. We always go down and practice on Christmas break every year, so our kids have been in there already this year for a two-hour practice. Hopefully we’ll feel comfortable in that building, and that gives us an edge.”
Balanced scoring has been an asset to Fort Loramie all season. Braun leads the squad with an average of 16.5 points per game, while Tyler Siegel averages 12.4 and Berning averages 8.4. Austin Siegel and Nathan Raterman have also scored in double figures, among others.
“We have a lot of different options,” Britton said. “Anybody can score on any given night. But I think the biggest thing is defensively, we’re locked in right now. When we’re locked in, I think we give ourselves a chance.”
The Redskins have allowed an average of 37.3 points per game this season, including an average of 30 points per game since a 59-55 loss to Anna on Feb. 10. Anna’s 59 points is the most an opponent has scored against the Redskins.
Fort Loramie has held opponents to 32 points or less 11 times this season, including a 47-24 win over Ansonia in a sectional final last Saturday.
Britton said both the team’s win over Ansonia and sectional semifinal win over Bradford showed that defensive focus is needed. Though the Redskins won both games by 20 points, they led by six points or less at halftime of each.
Fort Loramie led Ansonia 23-19 at halftime but closed out the win with a 24-5 scoring advantage in the second half.
That defensive focus will likely be needed against Middletown Christian, which has shown the ability to score — like its 101-99 overtime sectional final win over Cincinnati College Prep Academy. The Eagles average 54.3 points per game and allow an average of 64.5 on defense.
A pair of senior post players lead Middletown Christian’s scoring effort. Jarod Hamlin (6-foot-6) averages 14.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game while Dre Shores (6-5) averages 14.1 points and 7.6 rebounds. Sophomore guard CJ Money averages 10.9 points per game.
“They do whatever’s given to them,” Britton said. “If they can get out and run, they get out and run. If they slow it down, they’ll slow it down. The (sectional) game we saw them against Felicity-Franklin, it was a half-court game. When they played CCPA, it was up-and-down and a get it and go type of atmosphere.
“They do a nice job of adjusting and they look very well-coached and very disciplined offensive and defensively. We’ve got to be able to match their intensity and take what advantages there are.”
Middletown Christian finished seventh out of eight Metro Buckeye Conference teams. The league’s three top teams in Troy Christian (20-3), Dayton Christian (18-6) and Xenia Legacy Christian (18-7) all lost in sectional games.
Springfield Emmanuel Christian (10-14) finished sixth in the league and will face Russia in a district final on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The winner will face either Fort Loramie or Middletown Christian in a regional semifinal next Tuesday at Trent Arena in Kettering.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.