After a disappointing Tuesday loss to league rival Fairlawn, Loramie capped its weekend with an impressive return to form against Ft. Recovery.
Fort Loramie – It was no secret that Ft. Loramie coach Corey Britton was concerned about the immediate future of his basketball team following Tuesday’s disappointing performance against Shelby County League rival Fairlawn.
“We haven’t practiced well for about three weeks,” said Britton following the Fairlawn game. “And when you don’t practice well you play like we played tonight.”
But in the words of junior post player Tyler Siegel, they fixed some things in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and just in time for an impressive win over Triad Friday…and an even better 51-42 win over MAC contender Ft. Recovery on Saturday.
And likewise, Recovery coach Chris Guggenbiller has to have some concerns of his own. Just a week ago the Indians were 9-1 heading into their conference showdown with Versailles, a matchup of league unbeatens.
But they lost that game to Versailles, and then lost the following night, surprisingly, to non-league Arcanum. And Friday night they took the hat trick with a disappointing 60-58 loss at Marion Local. If you’re counting, Saturday’s outcome at Loramie made four in a row, losses that is, and suddenly a change of direction for what was just a week ago a leading candidate for Division IV post-season recognition.
But for Loramie Saturday also signals a change in direction, and a win on which Britton hopes for a change of fortune heading into a very difficult ten-day conclusion to the regular season.
Defensively, they played Recovery tough, 6’7″ Tyler Siegel clearly negating the strong post presence of seniors Macaiah Cox and Caleb Martin. Martin left the game with a sprained ankle after scoring 8 first half points; Cox finished the game with 3.
It was 22-18, Loramie, at the half, 34-28 at the end of three, and then Recovery’s offense boarded the bus early for home. The Indians went almost five minutes without scoring at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters, a stretch where Loramie’s Dillon Braun ignited for 10 of his game-high 21 points.
By the time that Recovery’s Payton Jutte shot them back into contention with a trio of three-pointers in the final four minutes, the issue was settled.
“Right now the trend seems to be we’re not doing much,” said a disconsolate Guggenbiller, considering his fourth loss in a week. “I think there’s some complacency. I think at this stage of the year there’s some dead legs and fatigue. And I think there a feeling of not wanting to work as hard as necessary to win.
“There could be some post-mortem after the Versailles game, too. I think there’s an adjustment now by teams of how to attack our pressure, and we need to make adjustments and respond. It’s a combination of things.”
For whichever of the above reasons, Recovery had none of the passion they showed against Versailles a week ago, an emotionally draining contest that was in doubt to the very end against one of the state’s best in Division III.
And expecting that kind of passion, Britton was elated over how his team responded to the challenge.
“Tonight was a good win for us,” he said, considering the nine-point outcome. “They’re pretty darned good. Any time you can get a good win against a MAC school it’s a tough thing to do on a Saturday night.
“We had two good days of practice this week and our defense played great tonight. There was nowhere to go but up after Tuesday night and it was good to see us come out and play with some confidence. Tyler Siegel had a good night defensively, he’s averaging about five blocks a game, and what he didn’t block he seemed to bother tonight. He really played well against (Macaiah) Cox. Cox is averaging in the high teens and he wasn’t anywhere near that.”
Siegel was a game changer, in the words of Chris Guggenbiller.
“He was a difference maker,” said the Recovery coach. “When we could get him away from the rim we had a little success. But we couldn’t do it often enough. He went over our guys, through our guys, whatever he had to do.”
He scored nine points, and ended the first half with an emphatic dunk off the baseline. But his defensive effort was what had Siegel smiling post-game.
“Early on I knew they’d be throwing it in to Cox and that was a challenge to our backside defense,” said Siegel, who had his customary five blocks in the game.
“Some nights the instinct for blocking shots is better than others,” he added. “I take pride in playing defense because without it offense means absolutely nothing. We’ve stressed that this year, and this game tonight puts us in a more confident frame of mind for the next two weeks.”
And that’s good, because Loramie has Marion Local, Jackson Center, Russia, and Tri-Village ahead to close out the regular season. They need the kind of positive direction of which Siegel and Corey Britton spoke.
Conversely, Recovery can look ahead to Coldwater and Minster, with road games at Triad and McComb between now and the end of their schedule. Saturday’s loss drops them to 9-5, and suddenly in jeopardy of negating their brilliant start.
Chris Guggenbiller and the Indians could use a lift, the likes of which Corey Britton and Loramie got this weekend in the quick turn of fortune following that 55-34 loss at Fairlawn.
Two teams…moving in different directions.