VANDALIA – The anticipated Division IV girls showdown is off the schedule.
For the past five weeks, sports writers across Ohio ranked Fort Loramie No. 1 and Tri-Village No. 2 in the Associated Press poll. But they won’t meet at 1 p.m. Saturday at Vandalia Butler High School in the regional final. Tri-Village will be in town, but the Patriots’ opponent will be party-crasher Cincinnati Country Day.
Tri-Village opened the regional semifinal doubleheader Thursday at Butler with a 54-33 victory over Danville, which made a two-and-a-half hour bus trip from the Central District. Then CCD jumped out to an early nine-point lead and held on to knock off the defending state champion Redskins 47-40.
The Nighthawks (20-5) were ranked No. 10 in the final poll. And way back in November they won by two points at Tri-Village (25-2). So while they came north and shocked some, that win over Tri-Village and their schedule against some quality higher division opponents proved that they belonged in the discussion all along.
Count Tri-Village coach Brad Gray as someone who isn’t surprised. After his game and before the Loramie-CCD game, he said, “Whether we play Fort Loramie or we play Country Day, we’re going to be in a battle. Both those teams are very capable winning this game out here.”
Tri-Village is trying to get to its second final four and first since 2012. The Patriots asserted their size dominance early against Danville (17-6) by going to 6-foot-2 center Meghan Downing. She scored the first six points, 12 in the first quarter and 17 for the game. The Patriots led 18-4 after one quarter and 31-9 at halftime. Morgan Hunt added 14 points and Rylee Sagester scored 13.
But about halfway through the second quarter the Patriots weren’t the same team and did just enough to maintain a large lead.
“The first quarter and a half, we looked like a really good basketball team, then I thought we shut it down,” Gray said. “You can’t afford to do that at this time of year. So we have to be better on Saturday.”
CCD coach John Snell knows that win over Tri-Village was long ago.
“I’m not looking forward to that at all,” he said. “I don’t want to play them. Brad does a great job with them, they’re a great team, and it’s going to be tough. We’re not going to a cakewalk.”
CCD presented matchup problems with 6-foot senior Sarah Zimmerman, who scored eight points, three guards who are strong with ball and good on defense and senior Jada Moorman, whose ability to create loose balls with deflections helped lead to 21 Fort Loramie turnovers.
“Most of the year we’ve really relied on defense,” Snell said.
CCD led 14-5 after the first quarter and 28-18 at halftime after Gracie Barnes hit a 3-pointer with seven seconds left. Only Riley Heitkamp’s three 3-pointers in the second quarter kept the Redskins (25-2) close and down 28-18 at halftime.
“I told the girls at halftime that they were playing Loramie basketball against us, they were doing the things that we want to do,” Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “Our girls were tentative and tight on their heels in the first half.”
The Redskins cut the CCD lead to 31-29 on a three-point play by Ava Sholtis with 3:26 left in the third. But Megan Zimmerman (11 points) answered with a 3-pointer and Barnes (11 points) opened the fourth win another one for a 37-29 lead. Loramie had to play catch up from there but got no closer than four.
Seniors Heitkamp and Sholtis scored 15 and 13 points, respectively, to lead the Redskins.
“I told the girls they worked hard tonight, and they shouldn’t hang their heads because they worked so incredibly hard,” Siegel said. “That’s the one thing I think is complimentary to our program is when we step on the floor, you’ve got five girls that are busting their tail on every possession, trying to do their best.”