OTTAWA — Main Street in Ottawa was quiet Thursday morning. Very few cars were in the parking lot and fewer still could be seen along the business fronts.
Although many businesses were open, the ringing of cash registers seemed to be yielding more often to the voices from radio announcers between 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. as the Ottawa-Glandorf Titans (25-3) battled No. 3-ranked Ironton (23-3) in the state semifinals at Value City Arena in Columbus.
“It’s almost like a morgue in here,” said Jeanne Botkin, a waiter at the Car-E-It on East Main Street. “It was the same way last year when Ottawa-Glandorf went to state.”
Communities in northwest Ohio are well known for supporting their high school sports teams, especially during the tournaments. Ottawa and Glandorf, however, take their support to another level. During last week’s regional tournament games at Bowling Green State University, nearly three-fourths of the stands of both games were occupied by Titans’ fans. Officials from BGSU told Titans’ Coach Tyson McLaughlin that the crowds at those games were the largest ever in the arena, even more than when Bowling Green itself plays.
When game time arrived late Thursday morning, many residents appeared to be either in Columbus or at home in front of a radio. The familiar faces during the lunch hour Thursday were missing at two popular dining spots, Henry’s and The Red Pig Inn.
Dave Meyer, an employee at Henry’s, said its business was steady, but pointed out, “I don’t think most of the people eating here were from Ottawa though.”
Meyer said he and fellow employees were able to listen to the game in the kitchen. “It was exciting,” he said. “Especially when they scored and were able to go into overtime.”
One of the few celebrants at the Red Pig Inn was Ryan Smith, a senior at Ottawa-Glandorf High School who couldn’t make it to the game, but was able to listen to the overtime action on restaurant’s radio. Other than his shouts, there was little reaction when the Titans pulled off the last-second 61-60 victory. “I don’t think most of our customers were from Ottawa,” said Dick Schnipke.
Business was slow at the Ottawa Senior Citizen Spring Bazaar and Craft sale.
“Our timing wasn’t good this year,” said assistant director Tammy Evans. “We always have it the week before Holy Week and this year it fell during tournament time.”
Evans said the attendance at their luncheon was way down.
“Business was bad but I’m really happy for the Titans,” Evans said.
Volunteers and customers gathered around the radio at the Senior Center as the game neared the end of the fourth quarter.
“I gotta sit down,” said Don Gerdeman as the Titans scored sending the game into overtime. Most customers were reluctant to leave until the game was over.
Peggy Torres, a waitress at the Car-E-It, said she expected business to be down today also.
“I was listening to the O-G game and will definitely be listening on Friday to the Leipsic game,” Torres said. “I have relatives on the Leipsic team. I’m really excited for them.”
The Leipsic Vikings (24-4) play Lancaster Fairfield Christian (24-2) at 2 p.m. today in a Division IV state semifinal.
Ottawa-Glandorf (25-3) goes after the state championship Saturday at 10:30 a.m. when it plays Versailles (23-5).