TIPP CITY – After cruising for the first 25 minutes and grabbing a 23-point lead, it looked like the Fort Loramie Redskins would cruise to an easy victory.
But a frantic fourth quarter saw the Marion Local Flyers score 34 points and the Redskins held on to a 71-66 win in the Division IV girls basketball regional semifinals Thursday at Tippecanoe High School.
Fort Loramie will face New Madison Tri-Village at 7 p.m. on Saturday night for the regional championship and a trip to Columbus. New Madison Tri-Village defeated Mechanicsburg on Wednesday, 47-44.
In November, the first game of the season, the Redskins defeated Marion Local 78-75.
Leading by 23 points after a free throw by Fort Loramie’s Megan Imwalle, Marion Local stormed back. Chelsea Winner led the Flyers with 21 points, 13 in the fourth quarter.
“If we would have played like that the first three quarters ...,” Marion Local coach Treva Fortkamp said of her team’s fourth quarter effort. “We came out slow and sluggish. We did get back into the game.”
An 8-0 spurt at the start of the first quarter cut the lead to 55-40 and forced a Fort Loramie timeout. The stop did little to slow the momentum.
Three straight buckets by Chelsea Winner and a basket by Candace Jacob cut the lead to 58-51 with 2:20 left in the game.
Jacobs finished the game with nine points. Allie Thobe added 10 for Marion Local.
“I thought the girls did a great job of executing in the first three quarter,” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “They cranked up the pressure and we did not protect the ball at all. We got a little complacent in the fourth quarter.”
The teams battled back and forth exchanging shots, rebounds and turnovers down the stretch.
Trailing 64-58 Marion Local’s Brooke Winner scored the basket and was fouled. She missed her free throw, but grabbed the miss, converted the basket and drew the Flyers within two at 64-62.
After a layup by Jessica Boerger put the Redskins up 66-62 the Flyers answered with a pair of free throws by Megan Kuether with 39.3 seconds left in the game. The 66-64 score would be as close as the Flyers got.
Boerger finished with 16 points for the Redskins. Kuether added 13 for Marion Local.
A coast-to-coast layup and foul shot by Darian Rose put gave the Redskins a 69-64 lead with 29.2 seconds left. Rose finished with a game-high 29 points.
“I can’t say enough about Darian Rose,” Siegel said. “She’s the first junior at Fort Loramie to score 1,000 points. She wants the ball and makes something happen.”
Fort Loramie committed five first half turnovers and committed eight in the fourth quarter.
“It was scary,” Rose said. “We worked hard to take care of the basketball.”
Fort Loramie jumped out to an early 9-2 lead and pushed the lead to 11-4 before the Flyers called timeout to regroup. After the stoppage, the Flyers pulled back to 11-8, but a 9-2 run to end the first quarter made the score 20-10 after one quarter.
The Redskins pushed the lead to 14 points in the first minute of the second quarter before the Flyers called a timeout to talk. Five points from Boerger and seven points from Rose carried the Redskins. Rose scored her 1,000 career point in the second half and pushed the lead to 15 points at 30-15, and the first half ended with the Redskins ahead 36-23.