OTTAWA — Ottawa-Glandorf had an answer for anything Van Wert threw at them Monday evening.
In an effort to slow the Titans offensively, the Cougars switched between man and zone defenses. And while it worked for a while, O-G was able to solve the Cougars defensive alignments. It was the Titans ability to answer what Van Wert was doing on defense on their way to a 79-60 Western Buckeye League win at the Robert J. Hermiller Gymnasium.
With the win, O-G, the third ranked team in Division III, moves to 3-0 in the WBL and 12-0 overall. Van Wert drops to 3-7 on the season.
With a lineup that can score in a number of ways, the Cougars switched between man and zone all game long. The changes didn’t seem to affect the Titans for long as they hit 27-of-44 shots attempted in the contest, including a fine 12-of-23 from behind the three-point line.
“We were worried about how to stop them,” Van Wert coach Mark Bagley said. “We tried to play a little zone and they shot us out of that; we played man and they shot us out of that. We doubled the post, especially (Jay) Kaufman, but they just had an answer for everything we did. What hurt was how we started and finished quarters, especially the end of the second. We miss a layup and they hit a three, that’s a five point swing. Then we started the third quarter poor and we are down 15. You can only climb that mountain against a great team like Ottawa so many times. Our kids never quit and they battled like crazy. It just wasn’t enough.”
Van Wert started the game well holding early leads of 7-3 and 15-11 before O-G junior Ethan White went on an 8-0 run to give the Titans a 19-15 lead. A Drew Bagley basket and a three-pointer by Owen Treece had the Cougars up 20-19 before Owen Hiegel hit a three to end the first quarter scoring and give the Titans a 22-20 lead.
After Hiegel’s three, the Cougars never led again, although they were able to stay close. The Titans biggest lead in the second quarter was seven points, several different times, before two free throws by Jacoby Kelly had Van Wert within five at 41-36. Hiegel ended the first half scoring with a basket giving the Titans a seven point lead at 43-36.
Ottawa-Glandorf was able to continue that momentum into the third quarter as the Titans opened the second half with an 8-1 run for a 14 point lead at 51-37. The Titans defensive play improved the first half of the quarter as Van Wert didn’t hit their first field goal of the second half until the four minute mark of the third quarter.
“We might have discussed the defensive effort we had the first half,” O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin said. “We were up seven at halftime and I thought that might have been one of the poorest defensive halves we’ve played. We talked to our guys that we were going to back off the pressure and pick them up three-quarters court and do a better job of trying to contest and make them shoot shots in the half court over the top (of us). I thought (Jake) Dible did a good job of owning the paint there for a while. We had a lot of different guys doing things.”
Van Wert also shot well in the game as they were 21-of-41, which included a 5-of-12 effort from three-point range.
BJ Fortman pushed the Titan lead back to 14 with a three-pointer before the Cougars answered back with a 7-0 run as Jacoby Kelly hit a three and had a three point play in the run. A free throw by Dible and another Hiegel basket to end the third gave O-G a 10 point lead (57-47) going to the final eight minutes.
In the final quarter, O-G extended their lead to 12 at 61-49 before the Cougars went on a 6-0 run to pull within 61-55. That would be as close as they would get as mounting foul trouble and O-G’s ability to hit big shots took its toll on Van Wert.
“Coming off a big game (Findlay) Saturday we were a little lethargic at the start,” McGlaughlin said. “Give Van Wert a lot of credit, they hit a lot of shots the first half and we didn’t do a real good job of preventing them from getting some good looks. It’s a win in the WBL and that’s the most important thing. That is a good team over there.”
Hiegel led the Titans with 18 points and White finished with 16. Bryce Schroeder added 11 points, while Jay Kaufman had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Kelly and Blake Henry both had 17 points for the Cougars. Treece finished with 11 points and Drew Bagley added 10 points.
Ottawa-Glandorf pulled away in the fourth quarter to win the junior varsity game 63-40. The Cougars trailed by just five points after three quarters.