While second-seeded Russia rolled past Lehman, Fort Loramie continued its late season surge with a win over Mississinawa Valley.
Piqua – It wasn’t long ago that the Fort Loramie Redskins resembled the Titanic after the iceberg.
Sinking with no hope of rescue.
Now, Corey Britton’s team is one win away from the District finals.
6′ 7″ Sophomore Tyler Siegel scored 21 points and got plenty of help from his teammates Tuesday as the Redskins stopped Mississinawa Valley 58-46 at Garbry Gym.
The Redskins’ 6th win in 7 games earned them a third meeting with second-seeded Russia, an easy 70-33 winner over Lehman in the first game of the evening.
“That was a tough one,” said Bitton, in his second year as coach of the Redskins. “We knew going in we would have to play pretty well. We didn’t get off to a very good start but the kids stuck with it and kept plugging away. I’m very proud of them.”
Playing before a large and vocal crowd, the Redskins trailed by 5 midway through the second quarter. Cody Gasson came off the bench to hit back-to-back treys to give the Redskins a 20-17 lead they would never relinquish. Siegel had 13 points at the break as the Redskins led 28-22.
Senior Drew Wehrman made perhaps the biggest play of the game late in the third quarter. The Blackhawks, who had won 12 of their last 14 games, had narrowed an 8 point deficit to four with a minute to play in the period. The Blackhawks played solid defense for almost that entire minute, but Werhman grabbed a loose ball under the basket, scored and was fouled with four seconds left. His free throw restored the lead to 7 heading into the final 8 minutes.
Siegel hit back-to-back hoops to push the lead to 10 early in the fourth, and the Redskins nailed down the win by making 11 of 15 free throws down the stretch.
Werhman joined Siegel in double figures with 11 for the Redskins, 8 coming in the second half. Gasson finished with 10 and Dillon Braun scored 7 of his 9 points after intermission.
“We are playing a lot more as a team,” said Siegel as he fiddled with his necktie. “We are sharing the ball a lot more than we did at the beginning, and we are getting a lot more open looks just by running the offense and being more patient.
“I’m a lot more confident now than I was early in the season,” the sophomore continued. “I don’t worry so much about what I do because I know the other guys will back me up.”
“Tyler has really come along nicely,” complimented his coach. “Our guards did a great job tonight of getting him the ball when he was open, and he did a great job finishing. We are getting hot at the right time.”
Mississinawa Valley, which beat Houston Saturday for just its second tournament win since 2002, got 14 points from Colyn Nelson, 12 from Ethan Bowman and 10 from Trent Perkins.
Fort Loramie shot 41% from the floor compared to the Blackhawks 35%, The Hawks were bricklayers from the arc, missing 15 of 17 three point attempts, while Loramie was 3 of 6. The Redskins were 19 of 26 at the line for 73% compared to the Hawks 12 of 19 for 63%
Loramie won the rebounding battle 34-31 and had 9 turnovers to Mississinawa’s 12.
The Redskins were 6-11 after a 48-44 loss to Russia, their 5th in 6 games. Since then, they have won 6 of 7 with the only loss a 50-48 decision on the road against defending D-IV state champion Tri-Village.
“We were really young to start the season,” said Britton when asked what has turned the season around. “It’s been a process, and I think it took a little longer than anyone wanted it to. But it doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish, and all the credit goes to the kids. We were 6-11 and we could have rolled over and called it a season. Our kids kept buying in and fighting, and now we have a chance to do something special.”
Britton saluted the large and enthusiastic Loramie crowd.
“Our crowd has been great. We love our community. It’s a dream for our kids to put on these uniforms and playing for that community. Now we have one of the best rivalries in Southwest Ohio Friday night. It’s going to be loud and exciting, and we just want to compete and have a chance at the end.”
Russia owns 35-32 and 48-44 wins over the Redskins, and Britton says the key Friday night is simple: play better.
“They smoked us on the glass both times, and hit big shots. We have to take away some of the things that they are comfortable with. We have to do the little things, and if we do, we’ll have a chance at the end.”
“We are feeling pretty confident heading into Friday night,” Siegel said as he headed for the bus. “Russia beat us twice by less than five points, and we are playing a lot better now. All we can do is play our best.”
In the opener, Lehman stayed with Russia for a while, trailing 26-19 late in the first half. Jake Gariety and Jack Dapore hit threes to ignite what became a 34-9 run that extended through the third quarter and made the final 8 minutes mop up time for both teams.
Dapore led the Raiders with 16 coming off the bench, Gariety had 14 and 11 Raiders scored as the Shelby County League champions improved to 21-3 on the season.
Max Schutt hit three treys for Lehman in the first quarter and finished his career with 14 points. No other Cavalier had more than 4 points, and Lehman was out-rebounded 32-18 and had 22 turnovers.
“We don’t see zone very much, and it took us a while to adjust,” said Russia coach Spencer Cordonnier, discussing the slow start. “We just weren’t executing the offense early. We were waiting for something to happen instead of making it happen.
“We gave up 14 points in the first quarter, and 19 the rest of the way. This time of year it’s all about matchups and adjustments. They have some guys that can shoot. So we adjusted and took away their dribble penetration and cut off their shooters.
At the time of our interview, Cordonnier didn’t know who the Raiders would be facing Friday night.
“This is where we want to be. The kids have gotten themselves in position. We know the atmosphere Friday night is going to be electric. Whoever we play is playing their best basketball of the season. We’ll put together a game plan the next two days and we’ll have to show up ready to play. We’ll have our hands full.
“These guys have had a phenomenal season, and they don’t want it to end Friday night. They are going to show up and do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The final is Friday night at Piqua High School with tip-off at 7pm. Get there early if you want a seat…and a pair of earplugs may not be a bad idea either!