By DAVE HANNEMAN
ADA — For a team struggling with slow starts in tournament play, Ottawa-Glandorf sure seemed in a hurry to get to the regional final.
O-G blitzed Huron 16-8 in the first quarter, padded the lead to 35-23 at the half and beat back every comeback bid the Tigers could muster in posting a 63-45 win in a Division III regional semifinal at Ohio Northern University.
“We talked about winning the first three minutes,” said O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin. “The first couple of minutes were kind of sloppy. We have a lot of guys in their first regional. It could have been jitters. But once we got our legs we were able to get a cushion, and that could have been the difference.”
State champion last season, a state semifinalist in 2012 and in the regional for the fourth straight year, Ottawa-Glandorf will face a familiar rival when the Titans (16-10) battle Lima Central Catholic (22-4) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Division III regional championship game at Bowling Green State University.
The game will be a rematch of a Dec. 15 matchup between the two schools, won by LCC 64-44. It will also be the fifth straight year O-G and LCC will meet in either the district finals or regional.
“LCC is very good,” McGlaughlin said of the Thunderbirds, who hammered Worthington Christian 64-37 in Thursday’s first semifinal at ONU.
“At the beginning of the season we were still putting a lot of pieces together. Our guys will be ready. You’d better be if you’re playing for a regional title.”
Ottawa-Glandorf led just 6-5 in the game’s opening minutes. The Titans then bridged the first and second quarters with a 19-6 run that gave them the confidence they needed and the cushion to back it up.
“We didn’t want to keep playing from behind,” McGlaughlin said of the Titans, who made just eight field goals the entire game and needed a fourth-quarter rally to get past Paulding 36-32 in the district final.
“Last week was pretty ugly. Tonight we got some transition baskets and that got our confidence up a little bit. We were able to run our stuff and we executed.”
Noah Bramlage scored inside to ignite O-G’s rally and Blake Blevins converted two free throws after the Titans grabbed two offensive rebounds. Bramlage hit a 12-foot jumper, Brad Recker scored off a steal and Bramlage tipped in his own miss at the buzzer to end the first quarter.
Alex Schroeder scored on a give-and-go to to open the second quarter and Zach Kuhlman nailed a 3-pointer from the corner. Kuhlman and Tyler Zender both scored on drives to the basket, completing the 19-6 run and putting O-G well in front, 25-11.
“We needed to have everyone play well tonight, and everyone did not have their best game. That’s what we needed against a great team like that,” Huron coach Bobby James said after the Tigers, making back-to-back regional appearances for the first time in school history, ended the season at 18-7.
“We cut it to 7, 8 a couple of times, but when we did they’d get an offensive rebound and a putback. They controlled the glass (35-22) and we were one-and-done. When you get outrebounded, you usually lose basketball games.”
Bramlage, a 6-foot-7 junior center, led O-G with 19 points and nine rebounds. Bramlage’s ability to flash outside and hit the 3-pointer (2 for 4) opened things up inside for both Zender (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Kuhlman (14 points, 8 rebounds).
“It’s not just the players who are clicking, it’s the assistant coaches, too,” McGlaughlin said. “Two or three times they said we could exploit that high-low set, and we did. Those two guys (Zender and Kuhlman) were relentless on the glass.”
Junior Adam Storer, the only non-senior in the Huron starting lineup, led the Tigers with 18 points. O-G’s defense limited Cody Thompson and Keegan Bollenbacher, Huron’s all-Sandusky Bay Conference guards who were both averaging more than 10 points per game, to 9 and 3 points respectively.”
Huron seemed like the odd-man out in the Division III regional. The Tigers got a late start to the season because of an extended run in the football playoffs, missed two weeks of practice because of bad weather during the season, then faced the longest road trip of any school in the field when weather forced the regional to be moved from BGSU to ONU.
“It’s typical of the adversity these guys have faced this season,” James said. “We were hoping for a closer venue, but it was a great season and a great accomplishment for these guys. You could say a bigger fan base might have affected things, but what affected us was Ottawa-Glandorf. They came ready to play and took it to us.”
Zender 4-4 4-4 12, Bramlage 8-17 1-2 19, A. Schroeder 2-6 2-2 6, Tampe-Kindt 0-1 1-2 1, Kuhlman 6-9 1-2 14, T. Schroeder 0-0 0-0 0, Wischmeyer 0-0 0-0 0, Recker 2-6 1-1 5, Osting 0-0 0-0 0, Blevins 0-0 4-4 4, Verhoff 0-0 0-0 0, Alt 1-2 0-1 2. TOTALS: 23-45 14-18 63.
Camella 2-6 0-0 4, Souter 1-2 1-2 3, Bollenbacher 1-7 0-0 3, Thompson 4-15 0-3 9, Storer 5-10 4-4 18, Franklin 0-0 0-0 0, Bloor 0-0 0-0 0, Gardener 0-0 0-0 0, Springer 2-3 3-5 8. TOTALS: 15-43 8-14 45.
Ottawa-Glandorf 16 19 10 18 — 63
Huron 8 15 14 8 — 45
3-Point GOALS: Ottawa-Glandorf 3-10 (Bramlage 2-4, Kuhlman 1-1, Recker 0-3, A. Schroeder 0-2); Huron 7-22 (Storer 4-9, Springer 1-2, Thompson 1-4, Bollenbacher 1-7).
rebounds: Ottawa-Glandorf 35 (Bramlage 9, Zender & Kuhlman 8); Huron 23 (Thompson & Storer 5). ASSISTS: Ottawa-Glandorf 9 (Trampe-Kindt 4); Huron 10 (Bollenbacher 6). STEALS: Ottawa-Glandorf 8 (Kuhlman & A. Schroeder 3); Huron 7 (Storer, Thompson & Souter 2). BLOCKS: Ottawa-Glandorf 2 (Bramlage & Kuhlman); Huron 4 (Camella, Thompson, Storer & Springer). TURNOVERS: Ottawa-Glandorf 12, Huron 12. TOTAL FOULS: Ottawa-Glandorf 13, Huron 18. FOULED OUT: None.
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By DAVE HANNEMAN