By Gary R. Rasberry
Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel gets to see a good number of Midwest Athletic Conference teams during the regular season.
If she wants to get her team into the state tournament for the first time in over 10 years, she’ll have to face one more.
The Redskins will face its neighbor to the north, Minster, in the Division IV regional championship game tonight at the Student Activity Center at Vandalia-Butler.
The 22-3 Redskins used a strong defensive game in beating 22-1 Covington in the second game on Thursday night. After being tied up with the Buccs 15-all at the half, Loramie allowed just two points in the second half to come away with the 34-17 win.
“Our offense was not clicking,” said Siegel. “Thank goodness the defense kicked in.”
The neighboring schools, just a couple of miles apart on Ohio 66, met late in the regular season with Minster getting the 43-38 win in Shelby County on Feb. 3.
“We played them once and came out on the short end,” said Siegel. “I think that was what I call a learning loss for the program. The next day we looked at the film and went over the things we didn’t do well. Hopefully this time around we’ll make those corrections.”
The Redskins have a strong youth movement lineup, starting three sophomores. Guard Mallory Albers (5-6) leads the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game and dishes out 2.5 assists per game. Backcourt and classmate Courtney Reed (5-5) averages 9.2 ppg. and leads the team with 3.6 apg.
“From fifth and sixth grade up through junior high, they’ve been successful,” said Siegel of the sophomore class. “The sophomore group is confident. Winning is what we do. Also, the junior class played on the jayvee team that went 20-0 last year. This group, all together, just wants to win.”
Minster coach Nann Stechschulte agrees.
“It’s just a talented group. I don’t really look at them as sophomores,” said Stechschulte. “You just have to look at them as basketball players that are very talented. They’re deep in the guards, have good size and deep in the bench as well.”
The third sophomore starter is 6-1 center Leslie Hoelscher, who averages seven points and a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game. Siegel will put Hoelscher on Minster center Robyn Hoying in hopes of containing the 6-1 senior who has had back-to-back double-doubles.
“I had Jodi on her in the first meeting and I thought she did a good job holding her to six points,” said Seigel. “They’ll have a battle for the entire game.”
The lone senior on the roster is wing Abby Ernst, who averages 10.3 ppg. and has connected on 25 three-pointers, second on the team behind Albers. Junior Jodi Zimmerman (6-0) is the fourth starter, averaging 4.9 ppg.
Coach Siegel will dig deep on the bench. Junior guard Krista Middendorf averages 4.9 ppg. off the bench while sophomore Erin Schieltz will also come in to spell the guards and junior Rachel Siegel to spell the forwards.
The Wildcats are coming off another strong performance in the 49-30 win over another Shelby County League team in Jackson Center.
The bench play of both teams will play a roll tonight. On Thursday both teams used its bench against opponents that were not very deep. Minster used three subs in rotation against a Jackson Center team that brought one player in regularly and another in spot play. Fort Loramie’s substitutions helped frustrate Covington during its dry spell in the second half.
“During tournament time, with the atmosphere and tensions, it takes a lot out of the girls,” said Siegel. “The bench is only going to help you. Last night, I think Covington’s problem was they were tired and frustrated when their shots weren’t going in. I used my bench a lot, using 10-11 girls in the game. Even if it was for 30-60 seconds to give a starter a break, I needed that minute and the girls know that.”
“I don’t think there’s any question,” said Stechschulte. “In a lot of ways, we’re similar. I like to think our bench is deep.
“This will be a great game, given the fact we’re (the villages of Minster and Fort Loramie) are three miles apart and it’s a regional final. That will make it a little more crazy.”