It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but somehow Ft. Loramie found a way to win a heart-stopping train wreck over Minster.
Vandalia – Ft. Loramie coach Carla Siegel didn’t deny that it lacked elegance. All she cared for Wednesday night at about, oh, 8:21 pm was that her Redskins had escaped with a win, and for the immediate future their basketball lives against rival Minster, 36-30.
It was not a thing of beauty. Someone joked about seeing Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of the game of basketball, get up, put his coat on, and leave the building.
Both teams came out with that look, that expression, of trepidation…like they were being asked to play in the living room of a haunted house. Think of the old Don Knotts movie, The Ghost And Mr. Chicken. The regional round of the state tournament can do that to you.
Neither team shot well. For the game Loramie connected on just 34% of its shots…12 of 35. Minster was worse at 28%…12 of 42.
Between the two they combined to turn the ball over 36 times…Minster 17 times; Ft. Loramie 19 times.
The score at the half was a robust 22-20 in favor of Loramie, Minster scoring but 10 points in both the first and second quarters.
But if you think that was meager, consider the second half.
Minster would score but 4 points in the third…and 6 points in the fourth.
Not to be outdone, Loramie scored 8 in the third…and 6 in the fourth.
You’re putting me on, you say. There’s more.
Minster scored a grand total of two field goals in the second half…AND NONE IN THE FOURTH QUARTER!
Ft. Loramie lit up the boards with four field goals in the second half…AND NONE IN THE FOURTH QUARTER!
That’s right. Neither team scored a field goal in the fourth quarter…and somebody still won the basketball game.
“Really?” said Siegel aftewards. “I didn’t know that. I had no idea.”
She should have had a sense of deja’ vu. A decade ago she beat Covington in the regional tournament, the team that had the great Michelle Meyer on it, and held that team to just “one” field goal for the second half…and only two points!
They say that history has a way of repeating itself, however, and the one thing historic about Minster and Loramie basketball…is defense. One man’s ugly is another man’s gem when it comes to playing stingy, hard-nosed defense, and Tuesday’s Division IV regional semi-final was a classic…kind of.
“It was a war,” said Siegel afterwards with a relieved smile, her girls screaming mayhem in the hallway outside their locker room. “The officials let us play and the game came down to rebounds and free throws.
“I thought our girls kept focus and did a good job. In the first half Minster got two big rebounds and scored on putbacks. I told them at halftime that we cannot let that happen again and I thought our rebounding was so much better in the second half.”
Still, for a defending state champion with one of the state’s premier Division IV players (Jessica Boerger), the Redskins spent much of the game in that haunted living room, playing as if tiptoeing on eggs.
“That’s true, and there were nerves,” added Siegel. “This is a big game and they’re a great team. Minster is a great team! I don’t think we were very patient with our offense, and their defense had something to do with that. I don’t think we reversed the ball one time in the first half on offense. We wanted to attack and get into our transition game, and we talked about that at halftime, too. I think we got some better looks in the second half.”
Looks was all it amounted to because Minster does play great defense. They harassed the basketball in the second half, trapping, double-teaming, anything to disrupt the flow of the ‘Skins’ offense. It worked.
Jessica Boerger dribbled the ball off her knee and out of bounds.
Oliver Quinter kicked the ball out of bounds driving the baseline.
Passes became tentative, and picked off by waiting Minster hands, but to no avail. Loramie’s defense was just as good, frustrating the Wildcats’ backcourt and forcing them to initiate their offense farther from the hoop than accustomed.
In the midst of this offensive darkness was one sliver of light. Jessica Boerger, who had struggled to score on so many occasions throughout the season, brought her experience and leadership to the court when her team, and teammates, needed it most.
Boerger scored 13 points in the first half; and finished the game with 20, along the way connecting for the only three-point shot of the game…by either team.
“I always say that big-time players will play big in big games,” smiled Siegel. “We needed her to play big today and she did. We needed her to score, play defense and get rebounds. People think of Jess as a great offensive player, but she plays great defense and never gets any credit for it. We asked a lot of her tonight and she delivered. I was very happy with how Jessica Boerger played.”
Freshman Courtney Prenger led Minster with 14 points, while Rosie Westerbeck had 8, Lindsay Roetgerman had 4, Hannah Schmitmeyer had 2, and Ali Borgerding had 2. Minster closes an outstanding season with a 21-5 mark.
Behind Boerger’s 20 for Loramie, Holly Frey had 6 (and 7 rebounds), Olivia Quinter had 4, Taylor Gasson, Katy Hoying, and Maddi Brandewie had 2 each. Loramie advances now to Saturday’s regional final with a record of 23-4.
Rebounds were even. Turnovers were about even. Steals were about even. That’s how close it was.
We published a column on Press Pros earlier in the week, postulating on why some teams always seem to win. The bottom line, as it was explained…is expectation.
Winners of two of the last three state titles in Division IV basketball, Carla Siegel has won so many district titles in her 17 years it’s become the standard of expectation. They grow up in Loramie believing as if it were prophecy.
But even Siegel knows that sometimes you just catch a break. You don’t win often when your offense tanks, no matter how good your defense is, a fact she acknowledged in her post-game testimony.
“We knew this was going to be a battle because Minster’s a great team,” said Siegel. “They play great defense. We play great defense. We love our defense, so you’re going to have a low-scoring game.
Pausing to consider her words, she allowed, “But we need to do a better job of executing. Our ball handling wasn’t very good. We need to be stronger with the ball. But we have to score baskets in the fourth quarter. There’s no doubt about it.”
But still, sometimes you just win ugly…especially if you believe you should. It really is the reason why some teams always win.
It’s just unimaginable…if you don’t!