Girls basketball: Seniors -- this year’s and last year’s -- help Fort Loramie to state championship

Fort Loramie's girls basketball team celebrates a Division IV state championship Saturday at UD Arena. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

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Fort Loramie's girls basketball team celebrates a Division IV state championship Saturday at UD Arena. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

The Fort Loramie girls basketball team can’t talk about themselves without thinking about last year’s four seniors. They were denied a chance at a state championship when the tournament was canceled.

“Their leadership last year definitely helped us get there this year,” senior Corynn Heitkamp said. “They taught us how to be good leaders.”

Led by seven seniors, Fort Loramie won its third Division IV state championship Saturday with a 60-26 domination of McDonald at UD Arena.

Dana Rose scored 13 points and Dana Hoelscher 12 to lead the Redskins (29-1). They shot 56.4 %, held McDonald (24-3) to 30.6 % shooting, forced 25 turnovers and controlled the game from the start with a 17-2 lead after the first quarter.

“We challenged our girls yesterday at practice that if we were going to have a shot at winning, we had to play great defense,” Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “And I can not say enough about the senior leadership today and the defense that all of the girls played.”

While the Redskins were celebrating on their bench in the final minutes as starters came out and subs got their moment on the court, the four seniors from last year were as close as they could get. They were given special seats near the bench.

“I mean, these are their teammates, these are the friends, their sisterhood, too,” Seigel said after holding back tears. “It was very emotional for them because it’s what could’ve been for them. But at least they were here, and I appreciate them coming and being a part of our victory today.”

This was Loramie’s 11th appearance at the state tournament dating to 1979. Siegel, who played at Loramie and reached two regional finals as a player, won state titles in 2013 and 2015. Last year was supposed to be No. 3.

“From last year, we just had that fire to do it for ourselves and for those seniors that couldn’t be there with us this year,” Heitkamp said. “It’s just so much more incredible to do it this year after the long wait.”

Siegel knows about long waits. When she joined the program as JV coach in the 1994-95 season, she saw the three state championship banners from 1977, 1987 and 1993 hanging in the gym. She said her thought was that the girls program was just as good. When she became head coach 22 years ago, she had a big goal.

“We’ve got to get banners over there,” she said. “All I wanted was one banner on that wall. And to have three … I think it’s impressive.”

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