By ANDREW WILLIAMS
MCCOMB — It isn’t how you start that matters, but how you finish.
Luckily for Ottoville, it opened the way it needed to, on a 7-0 run, and ultimately got the ending it wanted, with the Big Green closing the game with a 6-1 advantage to edge McComb 49-44 in a nonconference girls basketball game Thursday night.
Ottoville led for the first 29-plus minutes of the game, before Emily Clymer’s turnaround jumper knotted the score at 43-all with 2:18 to play.
Clymer missed two free throws with less than a minute to play after a basket by Lexie Wannemacher made it 45-43 in favor of the Big Green, and Jenna Herr hit 1 of 2 from the line to cut it to 45-44 with 32.2 seconds left.
Brooke Mangas nailed a pair of free throws after an intentional foul with 21.9 seconds remaining to put Ottoville ahead 47-44 and Brenna Dee’s 3-point attempt from the top of the key with just under 10 seconds to play failed to find the basket.
Taylor Mangas then knocked in two from the line to put the game out of reach.
Wannemacher finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Mangas dropped in 14 for Ottoville.
Despite leading for most of the game, Ottoville coach Dave Kleman said his team stayed poised when McComb rallied to tie it and credited them with keeping their composure when things tightened up.
“Just got to maintain the course,” Kleman said after his team improved to 12-8 on the season. “There’s ebbs and flows to every game. They tied it up. We did foul them. They missed free throws and we came down and hit them. The two Mangas girls hit a couple big free throws each for us and kind of salted the game away for us.
“Give them a lot of credit, though. The Clymer girl’s a heck of a player. She’s everything we could handle. She’s so quick and then she can turn and shoot with her left, she can turn and shoot with her right. Excellent player and has got a nice little spot up jumper. I’m real impressed with her.”
It was Clymer who helped get the Panthers, with seven players in uniform, back into the game when it looked like things were falling apart.
Ottoville held a 34-23 advantage midway through the third period before back-to-back baskets by Clymer made it 34-27 with 3:19 left in the quarter.
Her basket with a little more than six minutes remaining cut it to 40-36, her old-fashioned 3-point play less than minute later made it 41-39 and a bucket following a score by Ottoville’s Alicia Honigford again brought the Panthers (11-11) within two at 43-41 with less than four minutes to play.
“When you only have seven players dressed that can play, you have to have an attitude of don’t quit or you’re going to get trounced every week,” McComb coach Jeremy Herr said. “I have confidence in our girls and I told them that’s one thing I love about them. They’re a no-quit team. They don’t give up. They always scrap regardless of the situation. It would be very easy for them to lay down and just let a team walk all over them and give up. That will never happen with this team.”
The Panthers had to scrap late mainly because of the poor start they had in the first quarter.
Ottoville led 7-0 just minutes into the game before Dee’s basket got McComb on the board. The Panthers were 7 of 27 (25.9 percent) from the field in the first half, including 0 of 6 from beyond the arc.
Herr credited seniors Clymer and Dee, who combined for 32 of the team’s 44 points and 14 of 30 rebounds, with being the catalysts that helped get the Panthers back into the game and with helping keep a young, inexperienced team together all season.
“They are, I think, both four-year lettermen for me,” Herr said. “Those two have kind of grown up some of my freshmen. Their leadership is not just in words but it’s also in action. That’s true in practice and that’s true in the games too. They see what kind of heart they pour into a game and I think it’s helped the younger kids see what it takes to be a winner in a very, very competitive league.”
Kramer 1-0—2, T. Mangas 4-2—13, B. Mangas 2-4—8, Sarka 0-0—0, Honigford 2-1—5, Thorbahn 1-0—2, Von Sossan 0-0—0, Landwehr 2-0—6, Lindeman 0-1—1, Le. Wannemacher 5-2—12, Ly. Wannemacher 0-0—0. TOTALS: 17-45 10-15—49.
Hemminger 4-0—9, Buck 0-0—0, Dee 6-3—15, Hammond 0-0—0, Clymer 7-3—17, Herr 1-1—3, Riegle 0-0—0. TOTALS: 18-50 7-15—44.
Ottoville 12 11 13 13 — 49
McComb 7 10 15 12 — 44
3-Point GOALS: Ottoville 5-20 (T. Mangas 3, Landwehr 2); McComb 1-10 (Hemminger).
rebounds: Ottoville 32 (Le. Wannemacher 10); McComb 30 (Clymer & Dee 7).
turnovers: Ottoville 19, McComb 16.