The Fort Loramie Redskins completely shut down Jackson Center, and sent an emphatic message in the process: The road to the Shelby County League Championship goes through Fort Loramie.
Fort Loramie—For the past several years, the Fort Loramie Redskins have had little success against the Jackson Center Tigers.
Fueled by an in-your-face defense, the Tigers had won 13 of the last 15 meetings between the teams heading into Friday night’s encounter at Fort Loramie High School. The most points the Redskins had scored in any of those 15 games, was 48 points.
That all changed in one 32-minute defensive masterpiece–by the Redskins.
Fort Loramie held Jackson Center to nine baskets on the night, and rolled to a 43-21 win, effectively knocking the Tigers out of the league race before the New Year…at least for the time being.
“We did play well defensively,” agreed third year Loramie coach Corey Britton. “That has been our focus this season, and the kids have really bought in. That’s the third league opponent we have held to under 30 (Anna and Houston both got 29)”
The game got off to a rousing start for the Tigers, who scored first on a slam dunk by Brady Wildermuth on their opening possession. The Redskins responded with a 9-0 run, and highlights for the Tigers were few and far between for the rest of the night.
“Fort Loramie is a great team,” said Jackson coach Scott Elchert, who has seen his Tigers shut down many an opponent. “They got after us and we did not respond very well.”
The Redskins began to pull away in the second quarter, out-scoring the Tigers 13-3. At the break, 6 players had already scored for the Redskins, who led 24-9 heading to the second half.
“We had good balance tonight, and we have guys who can score,” said Britton outside the Redskins’ locker room. “We can score inside and on the perimeter, and we did both tonight. The kids are playing with a lot of confidence, and they are very unselfish.”
The third quarter probably set the game of basketball back a few years as the two teams combined to shoot 4 of 16 from the floor. Loramie regained its shooting touch in the fourth, as Nick Brandewie, Dillon Braun, Eli Rosengarten and Cody Gasson nailed three-pointers and the Redskins led by as many as 25.
“We as coaches are more committed to defense than in the past,” Britton said, when asked about the difference from a year ago. “We have been preaching that since day one, and we are starting to see the dividends.”
It is frustrating,” Elchert acknowledged after the Tigers fell to 4-3 overall, 2-3 in the Shelby County League. “We need to find an answer on the offensive end and we need to find it this next week before we play Houston.”
Braun led the Redskins with 12 points, but eight players scored and four made treys for the Redskins, now 7-0 and 5-0 in the SCL. Wildermuth had 10 to pace Jackson Center, but the 6-6 senior was harassed every time he touched the ball, and got no scoring help from his teammates.
The Tigers were a woeful 9 of 31 from the floor for 29%, including 1-9 behind the arc. Things were no better for the Tigers from the line, where Jackson missed 6 of 8.
Loramie had an odd stat—the Redskins were just 1 of 10 from 2-point range in the second half. Loramie still finished 17 of 34 from the floor for 50%, and a red-hot 6 of 9 behind the arc for 67%. The winners also struggled from the line, making just 3 of 7.
Loramie had a 21-18 edge on the boards, and committed just 5 turnovers to 9 for Jackson Center.
Every team in the Shelby County League values winning the league title. With three losses in their first five league encounters, the Tigers find themselves on the outside of the championship race.
“Houston,” Elchert replied, when asked where the Tigers focus would be. “We have to get ready for Houston (next Friday). We can’t even think about the title at this point, because to win a championship, you have to be a good team, and we aren’t right now. We have moments, but we aren’t nearly consistent enough offensively. That’s our focus.”
Meanwhile, the Redskins haven’t won the SCL outright since a 19-2 season in 2003-04, though the Redskins did share the title with Houston in 2011.
This year’s start is a far cry from a year ago, when the Redskins started 3-7. They won 10 of their last 13 and advanced all the way to the District finals.
Britton said that run has impacted this year’s team.
“It’s given us a lot of confidence. We started 3-7 last season with four sophomores running around, and it’s hard to compete when you are weak and timid. Those kids could have given up on the season, but they didn’t. Now they know they can win, and they aren’t weak or timid anymore.”
As they head into the New Year, life is good for Britton and the Redskins, but the coach knows that perilous times could be right around the corner.
“We have to guard against complacency. We are 7-0 and leading the league, but we can’t let that go to our heads. Our schedule gets significantly tougher immediately. We go to New Bremen on Monday, play at Russia Friday, and that’s always a tough place to play, then Versailles comes in here on the 10th, and they may be the best team in southwest Ohio. After that we are at Anna and at Minster. That’s just the next two weeks. We will know exactly where we are after that stretch. So there is plenty of work for us to do.”