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03-17-03: 2003 Division IV Girls Basketball  State Champions - Marion Local Flyers
Sky high in Flyer Land

Sports Writer
    COLUMBUS - For words of wisdom for her basketball team, Marion Local coach Treva Fortkamp had a simple take as the Flyers went for a state championship.
    "I told them they eat off silver every day, let's bring home the gold," said Fortkamp in her opening statement after the Flyers won the Division IV girls basketball state title with a 46-28 win over Holgate at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
    The Flyers (22-6) overcame a sluggish first half to put away the Tigers with a strong fourth quarter in which they outscored Holgate 19-6.
    The win is the first team championship for any Marion girls team, something that Fortkamp also brought up to the team.
    "In the gym on one side are all the runner-up banners and on the other are the championship banners. The championships were all guys," said Fortkamp. "I said it was about time Title IX came in."
    It was the Flyer defense that came up strong in holding Holgate to the lowest point total for a Division IV championship game, ironically displacing Marion's 30-point effort in 2000 against Berlin Hiland.
    "I looked up at the scoreboard and saw they had 28 points and I said 'our record is broken!,' " said Fortkamp with a laugh of relief. "I'm glad."
    It appeared early on that both teams were making a run for lowest point total in a championship by two teams - the record is 72 set in 1976 - as Marion and Holgate (21-6) each had trouble hitting the shots. Marion missed a number of shots when trying to take advantage of its height advantage by going to the paint.
    "They let us get it in there," said Fortkamp. "We just didn't convert. We took some outside shots that we shouldn't have taken that we should have worked it around the defense."
    At the half Marion was shooting just 26.6 percent (6-of-21) but lucky for Flyers fans, Holgate was just as bad, making 5-of-21 for 23.8 percent.
    Fortkamp did see a light in the tunnel, though.
    "We got to change baskets at the half," said Fortkamp. "I told the interviewer at the half (from Ohio News Network) that we could go to the other end and see if we can get the lid off the basket."
    Holgate's Vanessa Rothman tied things up at the start of the third with a jumper but the Tigers' all-time leading scorer would not score again as the tandem of Maria Moeller and Rachel Thobe held the 5-1 senior scoreless for the rest of the game.
    That allowed Marion to start heating up. Gina Hein scored four big points in a span of a minute to help the Flyers push the lead to 22-18. This allowed Marion to go into a 1-2-2 press to try and slow down the Tigers. The pressure worked as Marion scored eight points off seven Holgate turnovers.
    "I think the big shot came from Gina," said Fortkamp. "Her shots put us up by four and allowed us to press. I debated about pressing at the beginning, but decided to wait. I didn't even put it on at the start of the second half. During a timeout, I told them the next made bucket we're going to press them."
    "I thought the press gave us some problems," said Holgate coach Bruce Schlosser. "We had a couple of turnovers when we didn't get into the right set. It was such a physical and aggressive game that we were kind of tired at the end. Maybe we should have went to the bench more but I have a lot of confidence in these kids over the years. We tried to tease the pressbreaker."
    Holgate came as close as two points several times in the period but Marion Local was able to hold off the Tigers and push the lead back up. Marion led by a 24-22 margin as time wound down when Maria Moeller hit on a free throw with 13.5 seconds left in the half and picked up another two on a stickback with a second left to give Marion a 27-22 lead.
    The Flyers added to the cushion when Erin Puthoff hit a layup with 6:44 left in the game to make it 29-22. Thobe, who had trouble hitting shots all day, hit her one and only field goal in 10 chances 21 seconds later to make it 31-22.
    Holgate's Jamie Thomas ended the run with a layup but the Flyers continued to pour on the points. A 10-2 Marion run made the score 41-26 with 2:36 left in the game. Holgate's Serena Urdiales hit a bucket with 2:14 left in the game but Holgate failed to score anymore as the Flyers began pulling the ball out and passed around the backcourt to keep the clock running.
    Fortkamp was able to clear the entire bench to get everyone a chance to play in the state game. Senior Ashley Everman had the honors of the final two Flyer points on a stickback as the clock counted down to the victory celebration.
    The Flyers did much better shooting in the final 16 minutes, hitting 54.5 percent of their shots in the half and finishing with a 41.9 shooting percentage.
    Schlosser was proud of his team's effort.
    "I thought our kids played really hard," said the veteran coach. "We wanted to spread the floor a little bit and get the driving angles. ... Defensively, I think we played very well. Towards the end we gave up a few offensive rebounds, but when you're giving up that much size (Holgate's tallest player was listed at 5-9) and you make a couple of mistakes, that opened it up for them. Marion is an extremely good team and is well coached."
    Maria Moeller led all scorers with 15 points, Erin Puthoff added 10 scores and Margo Moeller pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
    Rothman, who had 28 in the semifinal win over Shadyside, finished her fine career with 10 points - finishing with 100 double-digit games in 103 career starts at Holgate. Urdiales added 10 points.
    Fortkamp isn't thinking about getting another chance for state next year, although she does have a trip to Columbus in mind very soon.
    "I'm thinking about next week coming back for the boys," said Fortkamp. "I told Keith (Marion boys coach Keith Westrick) a week ago 'Let's do a Delphos.' (referring to St. John's winning the boys and girls state titles last season). We'll worry about next year in the summer."


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