COLUMBUS — Fort Loramie’s Darian Rose was hard to find for the first three quarters.
But by the time it was over, Rose had taken complete command.
Rose scored nine of her 21 points in overtime to lift Fort Loramie to a 49-42 overtime victory over Ottoville in the Division IV girls basketball state semifinals Friday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Rose, a junior guard averaging 18.5 points, finished with 21 points and hit 10 of 13 at the foul line. She hit 7 of 10 at the line in overtime. Rose started slow, however, and was held scoreless in the first half and had only five points after three quarters.
“I felt really bad because my team always looks to me to lead them and I wasn’t able to do that in the first half,” Rose said. “I was pretty upset with myself. But then I came out in the third quarter and everybody on the team was hitting everything.”
With 6-foot-2 Abby Siefker on the bench after fouling out in regulation, Rose began flying to the basket in overtime. Early in the game Siefker and Beining had both rejected her drives to the basket.
Rose scored on a reverse layup to give Fort Loramie the lead to stay 41-39 with 2:40 left in overtime.
“When Siefker was out, I knew I could drive a little bit without getting my shot blocked so much, so I wasn’t so scared to do that anymore,” Rose said.
Added Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel, “We were setting screens and looking to attack the hole because we knew she (Siefker) was out. I thought the girls did a good job taking it to the rack.”
After an Ottoville turnover, Rose sank four straight free throws to push the lead to 45-39 with 1:49 to go in the extra period.
Taylor Mangas’ layup brought Ottoville within 46-41 with 32 seconds left. After another Ottoville turnover, Rose hit two more free throws to give Fort Loramie a 48-41 lead with 26 seconds left in overtime.
Ottoville couldn’t solve the Fort Loramie pressure, both in the halfcourt and the fullcourt. Ottoville finished with 32 turnovers, including three in overtime. Fort Loramie ended up with 22 turnovers.
Kleman felt his team missed guard Tonya Kaufman, who went down with an ACL injury during the season.
“I would have been nice to have another guard in there like Tonya Kaufman, if she would have been healthy,” Kleman said. “It would have really made a nice difference.”
Fort Loramie (26-3) advances to the state championship game against Berlin Hiland (26-3) at 5:15 p.m. today at the Value City Arena. Ottoville, which was making its fifth trip to the state tournament, ends its season 27-1.
“It was a heck of a ballgame,” Kleman said. “I thought it was hard-fought and it could have gone either way toward the end of the game. … It wasn’t from lack of effort or lack of preparation because we did all those things.”
Rachel Beining led Ottoville with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Beining hit 8 of 10 from the field.
The Big Green’s Abby Siekfer had nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Rachel Turnwald had eight points.
Fort Loramie’s Hallie Benanzer added 12 points and was 4 of 7 on 3-pointers.
“We had some girls step up today who hardly play, namely Hallie and Kelly Turner (four points),” Siegel said. “Darian struggled in the first half, but she showed in the second half the player she really is.”
Ottoville won the boards easily, 39-25. Ottoville shot 33 percent from the field and was 0 of 8 on 3-pointers. Fort Loramie shot 37.5 percent from the field and was 5 of 13 on 3-pointers.
The game seemingly started in quicksand with both teams missing open shots and plenty of turnovers at both ends. Ottoville led 4-2 after the first quarter. The Big Green had nine turnovers at that point, many of which came out of the Redskins’ halfcourt traps.
“It was definitely difficult getting the ball up,” Beining said. “But I have confidence in our guards. We did our best to get it done.”
The Big Green led by as many as nine, 15-6, and took an 18-15 lead into the half. Ottoville was controlling the boards, but had 17 turnovers at the break, as Fort Loramie’s full-court pressure was smothering the Ottoville guards.
“We do our full-court (press) when we make baskets,” Siegel said. “We didn’t make any baskets in the first half so it was hard for us to get into it (the press).”
Ottoville led 31-23 with 37 seconds left in the third quarter and it was 31-25, Loramie, after three.
But turnovers continued to roll up at an alarming rate for Ottoville.
And Rose was getting more aggressive in hitting her driving pull-up jumpers. She scored seven in the fourth quarter.
“She had to take over for her team and that’s what she did,” Kleman said of Rose.
Ottoville was clinging to a 39-37 lead with 2:01 to go when Siefker picked up her fifth and final foul. Ottoville wouldn’t score again the 1:01 mark of overtime.
“It was tough for me (watching), but I have a lot of confidence in my teammates and I was hoping they could pull it out,” Siefker said. “Sometimes the cards just fall how you don’t want them to.”
Westerheide’s driving basket tied the game at 39 with 37 seconds left and forced the overtime.
“We feel bad, but we have a lot of really good things to remember for the year and a lot of great accomplishments,” Kleman said.