Columbus – Survive and Advance, the motto of one Jim Valvano and his 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack became the credo of Ottawa Glandorf this morning.
For the second straight year the Titans came into the State Semifinals but unlike last year they will advance to play for a Division 3 State Championship after surviving multiple runs from Ironton to win 61-60 in overtime.
After the first quarter Ironton led 19-12 behind 7 points in the opening stanza by Fighting Tigers 6 foot 7 power forward Trey Fletcher. Following a jumper and layup to open the second quarter from Fletcher to make it 23-12 in favor of Ironton the Titans responded with a 16-5 run to finish the quarter led by 9 points in the quarter and 17 in the half by TJ Metzger to tie at 28 heading into the break.
In the first half the Titans shot only 39.3% from the field (4-11 from 3) while Ironton shot 55% from the field (3-6 from 3). Neither team got to the free throw line that much in the first half as the Titans went 2-3 and the Fighting Tigers 3-4 from the charity stripe.
When the second half began, both teams had clearly changed their strategy from looking to shoot on the wing to a more post balanced draw the foul and get to the line oriented gameplan. Nobody was better from the free throw line in the second half than Ironton’s duo of Trey Fletcher and Trevor White who combined to finish 12-16 in their opportunities.
Ottawa Glandorf won the 3rd quarter 13-10 and lead after three 41-38. With both teams going to the ground and pound attack inside, the fouls began to mount up in bunches. The first casualty of the game came near the end of the half when Senior Trevor White fouled out for Ironton and finished his day with 14 points on a 3-3 from the field and 8-10 from the line performance in his last game for the Fighting Tigers.
With White gone the Titans went down inside to Rosebrock (3-13 shooting, 8 points 9 rebounds in 33 minutes) and Noah Bramlage(4-11 from the field, 8 points 4 rebounds in 34 minutes of work) to counter Fletcher’s unquestioned brute strength in the paint on offense.
The big guys down low may have been getting all of the looks on offense and from the refs, but it was Matthew “Chewey” Kaufman who was the most important “little” guy when it mattered as his layup with 2 seconds on the clock in regulation in which he knifed down the lane between three Fighting Tiger defenders pulled the Titans even at 56 heading into OT.
If the first half was all about the perimeter shooting(or supposed lack thereof) for both teams and the second half was all about the post players, the overtime was about how well each team could shoot from the free throw line. Ottawa Glandorf on the season only shoots 60.8% as a team from the charity stripe but didn’t show signs they aren’t the best in the state at it as Metzger iced the 61-60 win by hitting one of two free throws with 1 second remaining on the clock.
TJ Metzger finished the game with 25 points on 7-14 shooting (4-10 from 3), but it was fellow Senior Chewey Kaufman who stole away the player of the game award with his 11 point 6 assist 5 rebound performance. Kaufman came up huge all night long both in protecting the basketball and holding 1st Team All-Ohio guard Zac Carter of Ironton to 12 points on 4-16 shooting.
With the win the Titans up their record to 25-3 while the Fighting Tigers season ends at 23-3.
Who is next for OG you ask, well that would be none other than Midwest Athletic Conference’s 4th place regular season team in the 23-5 Versailles Tigers. Versailles defeated Leavittsburg Labrea 64-52 behind 21 points apiece from Damien Richard and All-Ohio selection in Sophomore Kyle Ahrens.
For Ottawa Glandorf to win their third state title overall and first since 2008 they will need to beat a very fast and streaky shooting Tigers squad much like themselves averaging 62.2 points per game.
Listen live to the game on www.zsportslive.com channel z1 on Saturday as pregame will begin around 10:20am with myself and Steve Wiener on the call. Can Ottawa Glandorf finish the mission? Tune in on Saturday to find out.