Minster Girls Basketball Punches Ticket to Columbus

Brian Smith
Staff Writer

Minster got over the Vandalia hurdle that had frustrated the Wildcats for nearly a decade and knocked off neighborly rival Fort Loramie on Saturday night, sending Minster back to state for the first time since 2010.

"Getting past this gym, it's what we were looking forward to," Minster senior Taylor Kogge said looking around as her teammates began to cut down the net.

Minster proved too talented, too experienced for a young Fort Loramie squad in a 44-28 Division IV regional title game at Butler High School. The Wildcats ended a nine-year state drought that often saw highly-ranked teams fall a game or two short of its ultimate goal.

"Freshman year we lost to Loramie in the regional semis, last year we lost to Jackson Center, so this game feels amazing to go to the Schottenstein and have a chance to win state," Minster junior Courtney Prenger said.

Minster will face the Associated Press' top-ranked team in Division IV, Waterford, in a state semifinal on Thursday, March 15 at 3 p.m. at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus. The winner will play in the state championship game on Saturday, March 17 at 10:45 a.m.

"On the bus ride over here, I told them that two years ago we lost in the semis, last year we lost in the final and this year we're going to kick in the door," Minster head coach Mike Wiss said. "We kicked in the door. What a great group of girls."

The Wildcats are seeking their third-ever girls basketball state title. Minster won crowns under then-head coach and now assistant coach Nann Stechschulte in 1998 and 2004. Now it's head coach Mike WIss, who has led the baseball team to three state titles, to skipper the ship to Columbus.

Fort Loramie's road ends after a 22-6 season and a Shelby County Athletic League title. The Redskins went 17-2 over their final 19 games and featured a young, talented roster.

Minster reaches Columbus with a team balancing experience and youngsters along with its usual attacking defense.

"We apply pressure," Wiss said. "That's what we do. We got them rattled a little bit."

The Wildcats feature a pair of All-MIdwest Athletic Conference post players Courtney Prenger and Kogge, who helped steady Minster in the second half of Saturday's win over Fort Loramie after the teams went to the half in a low-scoring defensive affair.

Minster scored the first 10 points of the second half. The high-low game of Prenger and Kogge proved to be key leading to clean looks at the basket, while junior Demaris Wolf knocked down a 3-pointer to loosen up the Redskin defense. And Minster started finishing at the basket after a multitude of shots in the paint didn't go down for the first 16 minutes of the game.

"We talked at halftime about making the short ones," WIss said. "They're giving you a little bump, a little body. Nothing is going to come easy. Go up strong and finish. We came out and they responded to the halftime talk the way they're capable of doing."

"The third quarter was really good for us," Prenger said. "We knew that even though we had a couple free throws a the end of the half, that the momentum was kind of on their side. We couldn't let them think they were back in the game. So the inside game was really important. That's what we've preached all season long. We really got into the flow of what the Minster offense is supposed to be in that third quarter."

Add in a rotating guard rotation that pestered Fort Loramie's guards all night long and the result? A Final Four trip.