The Fort Loramie Redskins had dominated Jackson Center in two regular season meetings. The Lady Tigers were determined to not let that happen again…and it didn’t.
Vandalia – The Jackson Center Lady Tigers held the Fort Loramie Redskins to 19% shooting for three quarters of the D-IV Regional Championship game at Vandalia Butler High School. Yet the Tigers lead was just 7 points.
Everyone in the large crowd expected the defending D-IV state champs to make a run, and indeed they did, scoring the first nine points of the fourth quarter to take their first lead at 31-29 with 4:55 remaining.
That was the only time Loramie was to lead all night, and the advantage lasted all of 24 seconds.
Olivia Clark hit two free throws to snap a 31-all tie, and Peyton Esser scored 7 points down the stretch to lead the Tigers to a 43-35 win and their first regional title since 2001. It also snapped a 21 game losing streak to Loramie, dating back to February 11,2006.
“You congratulate me, but it’s the girls that got it done,” said a beaming Jackson Center coach Scott Doseck. “They are the ones that bought in to what we tried to teach them in a day and they just went out and played their tails off. We beat an excellent team. That’s a great program we beat tonight.”
“Jackson played us hard,” credited Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel. “They were in our face all night. I thought we played OK defensively. We gave up too many three pointers in the first half, but made the adjustment and corrected that in the second half. But you have to make baskets. You don’t win many games shooting 20%.”
Nicole Fogt got the Tigers off to a flying start, scoring all nine of her teams’ first quarter points. Jessica Boerger hit a three at the buzzer for Fort Loramie and the Tigers lead was 9-8.
“Nicole got us the start we needed,” agreed Doseck. “She scored those nine points and didn’t force anything. Then in the middle, one of our other seniors, Pauline Meyer, hit a couple of big threes, Then Peyton Esser took over down the stretch. She is a true leader who just hates to lose. That’s why we are going to Columbus, because of those three seniors. But we are going to Columbus as a team.”
Pauline Meyer scored 5 points in the second quarter and Cassie Meyer added a pair of threes as Jackson built a 20-16 lead at intermission. Loramie went nearly 6 minutes without a field goal in the third quarter before Maddi Brandewie scored her only bucket of the night.
After the Redskins took their only lead of the night on a pair of Boerger free throws, Loramie had another drought, and was out-scored 14-4 over the final 4:55 of the contest.
“Once we got the lead, Jackson came right back and took it back,” Siegel recalled. “I think there was a sequence where they missed a free throw, but we didn’t secure the rebound and they scored and it went downhill from there.
“The one thing that disappointed me was the number of turnovers we had. I have a veteran team on the floor most of the time and we just didn’t take care of the ball. It seemed like we were scattered all night. That’s the one thing that I am disappointed in.”
Fogt added 3 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Tigers with 12 on the night. Cassie Meyer finished with 10, Esser had 9, all in the second half, and Pauline Meyer had 8.
Fogt was almost speechless after the game. Almost.
“I can’t even put it into words,” she laughed. There are just all of these emotions at one time. But it feels great.
“I go out and play my hardest, and if the shots fall they fall,” she said in referring to her big first quarter. “No better time than tonight in the regional final, I guess. It’s Fort Loramie, so we knew they would make a run. We just took a deep breath, focused on our defense and rebounding, and pulled it out at the end.”
Esser, a 5-7 senior who ended a scoreless first half by missing a layup and then heading for the wrong locker-room, more than made up for that gaffe with her late heroics
“This is just amazing. I guess I’m in a state of shock. To feel this in volleyball (the Tigers won their first state championship in that sport in November) and now to feel it in basketball, I could never have imagined my senior year going any better than it is right now.
“I have been struggling with my free throws in the tournament, but it really comes down to focus and how much you want it. We wanted this one sooo badly, and luckily things went our way tonight.”
Boerger closed her sensational career with 15 points, but only four free throws in the second half. Senior Holly Frey added 9, but no other Redskin had more than 3.
The numbers are almost hard to believe. Loramie finished 9 of 45 for 20%, and 3 of 15 from the arc for 20%. Jackson was 12 of 30 from the floor for 40%, but 5 of 7 from three-point range for 71%. Fort Loramie was 14 of 18 at the line for 78% and Jackson countered with 14 of 19 for 73%.
Loramie had the edge on the boards 32-27, including a whopping 17-7 advantage on the offensive glass. The Redskins were able to turn all those offensive boards into just 13 points.
Both teams had trouble protecting the ball, as the Tigers turned it 22 times to Loramie’s 19.
Senior Pauline Meyer hit a three in both the second and third quarters, and was ecstatic that her team was moving on.
“It’s the greatest feeling. It’s always great to beat Loramie, and to be moving on to state on it, that’s incredible.
“Once they got the lead, we just looked at each other and said ‘calm down’. We knew what we were doing. We had it.”
Doseck said that why the regional title may surprise some, it did not surprise him.
“I knew we had talent. Hey, nine of the 12 played on the volleyball state champions four months ago. I knew we had athletes, the question was, how was their basketball skills? I think we showed tonight that we have come a long way.”
“I’m really proud of this senior class,” Siegel said, mentioning Jessica Boerger, Taylor Gasson, Olivia Quinter, Maddi Brandeiwe and Katy Hoying. “They have meant a lot to our program. Not many people thought at the beginning of the season that we would be in the regional final, and I was probably one of them. We lost a ton of talent last season, so to get back here again is a great testament to the leadership of our seniors and how hard the girls worked for me.”
Next up for Jackson Center is their third state semifinal appearance, Friday at 3pm. The Tigers won state titles in 1995 and 2001 at the old St. John Arena, so Friday will mark their first appearance at Value City Arena.
“These girls know what to do to get ready,” said Doseck, as he accepted congratulations from well-wishers. “They went to state in volleyball, so they know the drill. We will keep it as normal as possible Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We are up in the air about Thursday right now, and we now that we play Friday at 3pm. We know we will be there and hopefully we will be ready.”