KETTERING — Opponents had struggled just to contain Fort Loramie’s shooting all season, let alone stop it completely.
But in the first 12 minutes of a Division IV regional final Friday night at Trent Arena, the Redskins’ watched shot after shot rattle in and out of the rim — or sail completely by it. The Flyers built and early 14-point lead and used an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to kill a Fort Loramie comeback and secure a 62-47 win.
It took Fort Loramie 12 minutes to make a field goal Friday, and Marion Local built up an 18-4 lead during that stretch. The Redskins hit consecutive 3-pointers to pull within seven midway through the fourth, but the Flyers scored the next eight points to re-take control.
“They came out and took it to us, and we never really responded or got into a flow,” Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton said. “A ton of credit goes to Marion Local. They were ready to roll, and we just couldn’t get a shot to go in. It’s your worst nightmare in a tournament game. …It was just rough sledding, but the kids kept battling. We just could never get in striking distance.”
Fort Loramie finishes 25-3 overall. Marion Local (23-4) advances to face Pandora Gilboa in a state semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Value City Arena at the Schottenstein Center.
“Our kids just prepared so darn well,” Marion Local coach Kurt Goettemoeller said of the team’s defensive effort against Fort Loramie. “We had some guys come in and help, and we knew everything they wanted to run. We were locked into their tendencies.
“We’ve got a lot of length, so when they are driving in there, we were able to roll up and make them shoot over our length. They were missing a lot of them inside early. We just didn’t want them to shoot 3s, and the big thing is we rebounded well. We didn’t give them second opportunities.”
Dillon Braun and Nick Brandewie hits consecutive 3-pointers midway through the fourth to pull Fort Loramie within 44-37. Nathan Bruns made a basket off the glass on Marion Local’s next possession, and after Fort Loramie missed a shot, Bruns made a pair of free throws.
Matt Rethman made a pair of foul shots with 2:38 left to push the lead to 50-37, then Tyler Prenger scored a basket in the paint 18 seconds later to push the lead to 13. The Redskins pulled no closer than 12 in the final two minutes.
Goettemoeller said the key after Fort Loramie’s late run was to keep attacking the basket.
“We just kept getting a lot of layups against their pressure in the fourth quarter, and we shot the ball pretty well from the free-throw line and kept them at bay,” Goettemoeller said.
Prenger, who scored two points in Marion Local’s 55-33 regional semifinal win against Springfield Catholic Central on Tuesday, led all scorers with 23 points. Bruns scored 17 and Rethman finished with 10.
Braun led Fort Loramie with 19 points while Evan Berning scored 10.
Braun hit a pair of free throws to tie it 2-2 early, then Prenger hit consecutive 3s.
Eli Rosengarten scored Fort Loramie’s first field goal on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4:02 left in the second, which brought Fort Loramie within 18-7. Carter Mescher hit a pair of free throws to bring Fort Loramie within 23-13 with 1:12 left, but Prenger hit a 3 from the left corner with 16 seconds left to boost Marion Local’s lead to 13.
Britton said the team shot less than 15 percent from the field in the first half.
“We probably missed four or five point-blank ones early,” Britton said. “We got where we wanted to get to, we just couldn’t finish it. That happens sometimes. We just had to keep battling, but they just shot it really well tonight.”
Fort Loramie won a home nonconference game against Marion Local 47-35 on Feb. 3.
“We knew from all the stuff we watched that they were good shooters,” Britton said of the Flyers. “(Prenger) is a great shooter and can knock them down. We knew that coming in, but he hit big shots. Every time they needed a big one, he hit one.”
Fort Loramie, which has won 46 games during the last two seasons, will lose five seniors to graduation: Berning, Braun, Tyler Seigel, Austin Siegel, and Cody Barhorst. The Redskins have been in the district finals each of the last three seasons and have advanced to regionals two years in a row.
“It’s been an incredible year — Shelby County League title, district championship, regional runner-up,” Britton said. “Our kids aren’t thinking about it tonight, but they’ll look back on it some day and appreciate what they did. It was a tremendous year.
“… This was my first group — I came in four years ago with this group. They believed in us and in what we wanted to do. I can’t thank that group enough from the bottom of my heart. It’s a terrific group.”
It’s Marion Local’s first regional championship since 2004, when the Flyers finished as state runner-ups.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.