LOUDONVILLE — The Redbirds may be running on fumes, but there’s no time to refill the tank.
The top-seeded Redbirds will host No. 2 Willoughby Cornerstone Christian at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Division IV district championship game. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16 and a date with either Shadyside or Zanesville Rosecrans in next week’s regional tournament.
Loudonville (24-0) is coming off a remarkable 78-74 overtime win over Dalton in the district semifinals. Senior forward Grace Vermilya broke the school’s single-game scoring record with 53 points and swiped 13 rebounds as the Redbirds overcame a 68-63 deficit in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.
Vermilya’s younger sister, Corri, added 17 points in the win. Corri Vermilya’s 3-pointer with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter tied the game at 68-68.
“We’re proud of the girls for continuing to fight and adjusting throughout the game,” Loudonville coach Tyler Bates said. “We had to go to some more man pressure in the second half and we got them to take some quick shots.
“It wasn’t perfect but we executed and … we had a couple girls make some big shots and we hit our free throws. That was the formula.”
Loudonville had its hands full in last week’s tournament opener against Andrews Osborne as well. The Redbirds overcame a 61-54 deficit, outscoring Andrews Osborne 17-2 during the final three-plus minutes for a 71-63 win.
“We’re just going to hope we have something left in the tank,” Bates said of the back-to-back nail-biters. “Cornerstone has had a few tough games, too. They were losing (to Cuyahoga Heights in the district semifinals) and won it at the end. They won their first game 42-37.
“Its not like they’ve had blowouts.”
Loudonville boasts one of the most balanced offenses in north central Ohio. Grave Vermilya averaged 18.9 points and 11.5 rebounds a game during the regular season while Corri Vermilya was good for 15.6 points, 12.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game. Shalen Guilliams averaged 15.3 points a game and broke Loudonville’s single-season record for 3-pointers. Paige Race averaged 10.2 points and 4.4 assists a game.
Loudonville's last trip to the district final was in 2019. The Redibirds dropped a 51-50 heart-breaker to Doylestown Chippewa.
“Hopefully we can put together a good game plan,” Bates said. “I’m sure the girls will find some energy.”