The Redskins overcame what their coach called “a selfish start” and rolled over Riverside in the opening round of the D-IV sectional at Piqua High School.
Piqua—The Fort Loramie Redskins were one of the top stories of the 2016 boys basketball tournament.
Losers of 7 of their first ten games, and with just a 10-12 record at the end of the season, the Redskins strung together three wins, including a memorable 52-51 win over Shelby County League champion Russia to win the sectional title.
They then took Southeastern to overtime at U.D. Arena before falling 79-71 in the District finals.
Expectations for Corey Britton’s club are much higher this season, following a 17 -win campaign that began with eight straight wins.
Fort Loramie got this year’s post-season party started Saturday night with an easy 69-40 win over out-manned Riverside, but its third-year coach was far from ecstatic.
“We’ll take it,” Britton said, standing outside the Redskins locker room. “We were sloppy and I think we played really selfishly early. The second half was much better. We moved the ball and the ball moved inside-out. It’s amazing what happens when you play with a little bit of energy and you do things correctly.”
Riverside came out fired up, jumping to a quick 6-2 lead as the Redskins missed shots and struggled handling the ball.
That, however, didn’t last long. Devon Braun scored 7 points and Eli Rosengarten added 5 to fuel a 17-2 run that gave Loramie a 19-8 lead early in the second quarter. After Riverside rallied to within 4, the Redskins scored 9 of the last 11 points of the first half and took a 35-24 lead into the locker-room.
“We had a really bad week of practice,” Britton continued. “We didn’t have any energy in practice, we didn’t do anything correctly defensively in practice, we didn’t rebound the ball in practice, and it showed tonight. We came out and didn’t do any of those things at the start. We talked about it at halftime and our kids responded so I’m proud of them for that.”
The run continued in the second half. Loramie hit four of their first five shots, including a three by Braun, while the Pirates started 0-5 with a pair of turnovers. By the time the 21-2 run was over, the Redskins were on cruise control and were never threatened again.
“We started playing together, the ball started moving around, we got post touches, and we got stops,” Britton said with an emphasis on stops. “You have to get stops. We did that in the second half and were able to get the running game going a little bit.”
Fort Loramie was 26 of 46 from the floor for 56%, 7 of 15 behind the arc for 47% and 10 of 12 at the line for 83%. The Pirates shot just 20% from the field in the second half, and finished at 33% for the game. They were 4 of 16 from the arc for 25% and 10 of 13 from the line for 77%.
Loramie had a 23-20 edge on the boards, and had 8 turnovers to the Pirates 14. The Redskins played a flawless third quarter, making 8 of 13 shots with no turnovers in out-scoring Riverside 20-8 to decide the game.
Braun scored fifteen points, including three treys, to lead 12 Redskins in the scoring column. Austin Siegel had a strong game and finished with 12, while Rosengarten and Nathan Raterman, both sophomores, contributed 7 points apiece off the bench.
“That’s becoming something of a trademark here,” Britton said, referring to the number of players who scored. “We normally play 8 guys, and we have eight guys who are able and willing to score if they get the chance. We just have to be more consistent. We are fighting an uphill battle if we keep playing inconsistently.”
Riverside senior Trey Helmlinger closed his career by hitting four triples, including a couple from beyond NBA range, and led all scorers with 24 points.
“I was fortunate enough to teach a year at Riverside, and all those seniors were in my class,” Britton explained. “Trey is a great kid, and he hit some really tough shots. It was sort of a double-edged sword facing them tonight. I was glad for him, but wish he hadn’t hit those shots against us. But it was good to see those guys, and I thought they did some things that hurt us.”
Britton hopes his team gets off to a better start Wednesday night when they return to Garbry gym for the sectional semifinals.
“We know we will have our hands full, and hopefully, we’ll play better. You only get 32 minutes and you have to take your best shot. Hopefully, we will get re-energized Monday and Tuesday night and get some things taken care of. We talked about it on the way over here. It doesn’t matter if you win by one or a hundred, all it takes is a victory. So we are pretty fortunate to be moving on.”