Girls basketball: Fort Loramie seeks third state title

Fort Loramie's Dana Rose shoots against Convoy Crestview's Bailey Gregory during Thursday's Division IV state semifinal at UD Arena. Loramie won 66-24 and Rose scored 22 points. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

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Fort Loramie's Dana Rose shoots against Convoy Crestview's Bailey Gregory during Thursday's Division IV state semifinal at UD Arena. Loramie won 66-24 and Rose scored 22 points. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

To take on the state, this era of the Fort Loramie girls basketball team had to first own the neighborhood. That meant they had to be better than Minster.

Minster, their five-miles-away neighbor, won the Division IV state title in 2018 and 2019. Last year the two teams were on a path to meet in the state final. But COVID-19 happened and the state tournament was canceled.

This year the two teams met in the regional final, and Loramie won 47-36.

“That gave us the confidence to come into the next few games and having that chip on our shoulder that we want to win this game and knowing that we can,” said Loramie senior Kenzie Hoelscher.

Top-ranked Loramie (28-1) showed that confidence in Thursday’s 66-24 blowout of Convoy Crestview. Today the Redskins face McDonald (24-2) in the state final in a quest for the program’s third state trophy and first since 2015.

McDonald was just as dominant Thursday in a 57-29 win over Waterford. The Blue Devils are led by 5-foot-11 senior forward Molly Howard, who averages 17 points a game and scored 21 in the semifinal.

Getting to state was extra exciting for Loramie because of last year’s tournament being canceled. The extra amps flowing through them showed early against Crestview. The Redskins missed some easy shots before settling into a rhythm.

The Redskins also settled into playing the way head coach Carla Siegel has demanded in her 22 years.

“Once we got that eight-point lead, the girls all took a deep breath and then we just started playing – I know everybody’s tired of hearing it – but they just started playing Loramie ball,” Siegel said, “which is hard-nosed defense, attack on offense, move the ball, sprint the floor, box out and rebound.”

McDonald’s five starters all played over 23 minutes Thursday, and Howard and Lucia Wolford played over 30 minutes. McDonald’s sixth player played 15 minutes, but the rest of the team only played in the final two minutes.

Loramie by contrast plays eight players and can give them all starter-type minutes. Starters Dana Rose and Hoelscher led the team in scoring as usual Thursday, but the bench play of Colleen Brandewie, Ava Sholtis and Clara Gephart kept the Redskins rolling.

“When you have those girls coming off the bench,” Siegel said, “and you’re keeping up the same level of play that the starters are playing that is just an added bonus.”

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