Minster, Fort Loramie To Clash for State Berth

Staff Writer

It'll be a Route 66 battle  on Saturday for a trip to Columbus.

Minster pulled away from Tri-Village 41-27 in the first Division IV regional semifinal at Vandalia Butler High School on Thursday night while Fort Loramie survived against Covington 32-27 in the nightcap to set up a showdown between the two area girls hoops power.

Minster and Fort Loramie will square off on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Butler High School with a trip to the state's Final Four on the line. Minster won the regular season match-up 35-26 back on Dec. 5. — a loss that started a mini-tailspin for the young Fort Loramie squad. The Redskins lost four of five games in December before finding its footing after the holiday break. It will be the first time Minster and Fort Loramie have met in a tournament game since the Redskins knocked off Minster in a regional semifinal in 2015-2016.  Fort Loramie won a 49-35 decision over Minster on 2010-2011 in a regional semifinal. Minster beat Fort Loramie in 2003-2004 41-32 in a regional final.

In the opener, Minster got big contributions from its bench in the second quarter and extended its lead to 26-12 late in the first half after 3-pointers by both Danielle Barhorst and Jessica Falk.

Both teams struggled to find baskets in the third quarter, with Minster's Courtney Prenger's putback basket giving the Wildcats a 35-23 lead after three quarters. Another low-scoring fourth quarter allowed Minster to put the game away for the 14-point win and move on to face the winner of the second game.

In the nightcap, a half-court defensive battle ensued. Fort Loramie found itself tied with the Buccs with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter. Fort Loramie pulled ahead with a pair of free throws by Abby Holthaus, but the Redskins struggled to put the game away at the free throw line and contain Covington's standout junior point guard Samantha Whiteman, who scored 18 of Covington's 27 points.

Fort Loramie missed four straight free throws to keep the Buccs in it, but Whiteman fouled out with 16 seconds left in the game — a big blow to the Buccs that became even larger in the closing seconds when Covington had the ball down three with the clock winding down. Without it primary ballhandler or scorer, Covington couldn't get a shot off and Fort Loramie escaped.