Fort Loramie honored two of their three past state champions, then overcame a slow start with their trademark defense to shutdown Botkins…Redskins maintain share of first place in the Shelby County League.
Fort Loramie — It was a night to honor the past at Fort Loramie High School.
Between the junior varsity and varsity contests, the school honored the 1977 and 1987 State champions. Several members from both teams were on hand, including both coaches.
George Hamlin was in his first year at the school when he led the ’77 Redskins to the school’s and Shelby County League’s first championship. Dan Hegemier was in his third season when the Redskins ran the table in 1987, winning the title at U.D. Arena.
Ironically, both teams dropped five of their first ten games before righting the ship and winning the title with strong second halves and post-seasons.
After the ceremonies, the current edition of the Redskins took the floor and proved again that they could very well be a factor late into the post-season.
Overcoming a slow start offensively, the Redskins held Botkins to 17 points under their season average and rolled to a 53-34 win. The decision keeps Fort Loramie tied for first place in the Shelby County League with Russia, which slipped past Jackson Center 37-34.
“We took care of business,” said Loramie third year coach Corey Britton. “We didn’t shoot very well against their zone, and that’s part of the deal. When you shoot well against the zone you look good. When you don’t, you don’t. I didn’t think we had the energy we needed early, but we worked through it.”
“Loramie can do that to you,” said veteran Botkins coach Brett Meyer of his teams’ offensive woes. “They are very quick. We had a few turnovers when it was close that got the ball rolling in their direction. They out-rebounded us, and we didn’t shoot well.”
An early three-pointer by Luke Bergman gave the Trojans an early lead, but the Redskins responded with an 8-0 run and never trailed again. A surge late in the second quarter gave the Redskins a 26-17 advantage at the break.
Any chance of Botkins comeback evaporated quickly in the third quarter. Loramie scored the first five points of the quarter to go up 14, and forced 6 Botkins turnovers in the quarter while out-scoring the Trojans 16-8.
“We talked at halftime about winning the first two minutes of the third quarter, and that didn’t happen,” Meyer explained. “After that we were playing catch-up. They had a few more players off the bench than we did, and that was also a factor in the second half.”
The lead reached as many as 23 before both teams cleared their benches.
Bergman was superb for the Trojans. The 6-1 senior made four threes and snagged game high honors with 21 points. The problem? None of his teammates scored more than 3.
“Luke has been solid for us all season,” praised Meyer. “Loramie was able to take away our role players, the ones that usually score more than they did tonight. That was the key to the game.”
“Any time you hold a team under 40, you give yourself a chance to win,” said Britton. “We would have liked to have done a better job on the Bergman kid, but he’s a great player. He hit some shots with hands in his face, so kudos to him.”
The Redskins had much better balance. Dillon Braun lead the way with 4 triples and 16 points, while 6-7 junior Tyler Siegel scored 9 of his 14 points in the decisive third quarter. Austin Siegel added 7 off the bench for the Redskins.
“We talked all week about wanting to play inside out against the zone, then we took 13 threes in the first half,” explained Britton. “That was not the game plan. We knew we had a significant size advantage inside, and we wanted to play through Tyler. We did that in the second half, and it opened up some threes.”
Fort Loramie shot an even 50% from the floor, 35% behind the arc and 64% from the foul line. Botkins finished at 38% from the floor, 41% from the arc, and shot only four free throws all night, making 3.
The Redskins had a commanding 24-14 advantage on the glass, including 8-2 on the offensive end of the floor, and had 11 turnovers to the Trojans 13.
“We have been very competitive in most of our games,” said Meyer after the Trojans fell to 4-10 and 0-8 in league play. “We only have two seniors and no one over 6-3, but the kids work really hard, they listen and they want to be here. We aren’t where we want to be, but we have 8 games left and and now is the time to start making that climb toward the tournament. Playing a team like Loramie will definitely help us get ready for the rest of the season.”
The Redskins will need to be at their best Tuesday night when they head to Fairlawn for a key league confrontation. The Jets are 10-2 and one game behind in the league standings after drubbing Covington 81-52 Friday night.
“Any time you go on the road in the Shelby County League it’s a challenge,” Britton acknowledged. “Going over to their place, we definitely have a target on our backs after beating them the first time. And they need a win to stay in the league race, so we will have to be ready to play.”
The Redskins have won three straight after a two-game skid against Russia and Versailles. Britton feels like his team is back to where it was during a season-opening 8 game winning streak.
“The process is all about playing well as the season goes on. We might have been playing well early in the season, but it’s mid-January. We are in the middle of the grind, and it’s time to suck it up and keep playing. Hopefully our best basketball is still ahead of us.”