In a meeting of defending state champions, Fort Loramie (Division IV) made an impressive stand to win over Versailles (Division III).
Versailles – It went down to the final minute, as it seems it always does.
The Fort Loramie Lady Redskins, defending state champions in Division four, and the Versailles Lady Tigers, defending state champs in division three, drew a large crowd to Versailles High School Saturday afternoon.
While both teams are drastically different than the teams that won those titles, the game was worth the hype as the Redskins outlasted the hosts down the stretch 43-39.
The game was a defensive battle from the outset, especially in the second half, when the Redskins scored just 18 points and held the Tigers to 16. Jessica Boerger’s driving three point play gave the Redskins the lead for good midway through the final period, and the Redskins nailed the win down at the free throw line to improve to 7-2.
We knew it was going to be a battle for four quarters,” said a smiling Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel. “Jacki (Versailles coach Stonebraker) always does a great job with her girls, and both teams are in the same boat as far as consistency in the game. We would have a nice lead and then fall apart, and they would make a run, and then they would make some mistakes and we would come back. When two good programs get together, you are going to see each others best.”
“It was a game of runs,” echoed the Tigers coach. “We would go on a run and be looking good, then Loramie would hit us in the mouth and start making some shots. We wanted to pack it in on them and make them prove themselves from the outside, and they did. They hit some big shots from the perimeter. It’s a great game to have at this point in the season, because it shows you what your strengths and weaknesses are.”
Jessica Boerger, the Redskins senior do it all leader, who had been struggling on the offensive end of the floor, regained her touch against the Tigers. Averaging just 10 points a game, Boerger scored 8 in the first period, and then led the Redskins comeback with 9 of her game high 25 points in the fourth quarter. Boerger was 9 of 10 from the foul line, and also led her team in rebounds assists, and steals.
“It was great to see that kind of game from Jess,” said Siegel. “Her shot has just been terrible, but we have had other girls step up and score so that’s been a good thing. Jess does so many other things to help us win, but we need her to score. I told her to relax, go play and have fun. It was good to see her do that today.”
Boerger, meanwhile, had a smile on her face after her best game of the season.
“My shot felt good today,” said the senior. “I have been struggling with my shot the last few games, but it felt better today. It was nice to see a few go in,” she said with a laugh.
“There was a lot of pressure on me,” she said when asked the reason for her offensive struggles. “I realize my team asks a lot of me, but I also have to realize that they have my back. I just have to go out and play, and that’s what I did today.
And Boerger knows that Saturday’s win means a lot for her team.
“It’s always good to beat Versailles. We always have such good competition with them. We pulled together when we had to late in the game. Just a very good win for our team.”
Loramie led throughout the close first half, with Boerger scoring at the horn for a 25-23 lead at intermission. Versailles took the midway through the third quarter, and held a 30-29 advantage after limiting Fort Loramie to two Boerger hoops in the period.
Boerger shined in the fourth quarter, scoring two baskets and making 5 straight free throws as the Redskins beat the Tigers for the second straight season. Last year, Boerger scorer 10 of her game high 26 points in overtime of a 61-55 Fort Loramie victory.
Offense has been an issue for both teams thus far this season. Stonebraker said her team, now 9-5, is making progress on some fronts, but not on others.
“I think individually, we are getting better offensively, but not as a team just yet. I don’t know when that is going to happen but it needs to happen quickly. We have some girls who are stepping up their game, but we need to come together as a team on the offensive end and that hasn’t happened yet.”
“I thought we played great against their man defense,” said Siegel. “But against their zone was another story. It would help if we shot better from the perimeter, but we are struggling with that right now, so teams are playing zone against us. Our two guard offense today was not very good today, so we have to work on that.”
The Redskins shot 41% for the day, but only 32% in the second half, while Versailles was at 36% for the afternoon. Loramie was 1 for 6 behind the arc compared to 2 of 4 for the Tigers, and the Redskins were 10 of 12 from the line for 83 % to 9 of 15 for the Tigers for 60%. The Redskins won the rebounding battle 22-19 and had 16 turnovers to the Tigers 13.
Boerger was the only Redskin in double figures, but Olivia Quinter had 6 and Reyan Frey added 5. Both scored key baskets in the Redskins fourth quarter run.
Danielle Winner led Versailles with 12 and Lauren Monnin added 8.
I know I say this all the time, but it was a great team win,” Siegel said. We had girls who hadn’t played much come in and contribute. Sara Stang had four rebounds and I think she only played three minutes. So when you have people come in and contribute even though they don’t get a lot of minutes, it helps our entire team.”
“How do I look at my team?” Stonebraker repeated the question. “I think we are coming around. It’s baby steps, and that’s what most of our seasons have been recently. We just have to step up in end of the game situations and play together and have a sense of urgency when we need it. “
“This game is supposed to be fun. You are supposed to have enthusiasm and have fun. Sometimes I don’t see that. I want these girls to realize that it’s a game, it’s a game you want to win, but in the grand scheme of things the only ones that really matter are the last 8 games (the tournament). So we just have to keep pushing.”
And the backdrop of two defending state champions going head to head sweetened the win for Siegel.
“Absolutely,” she said with a smile. “Anytime you can come to Versailles and get a win, that’s a huge win for your program. They are so well coached, Jacki is a classy lady, and her teams are always fundamentally strong. You had two quality programs going at it. It was a special afternoon.”
And a great way to start 2016!
(Edited by Julie McMaken Wright)