PAULDING – This time it started differently and stayed different for Ottawa-Glandorf.
The Titans ran out to a big early lead and maintained it on their way to a 50-32 win over Wapakoneta in the championship game of the Division II girls basketball district at Paulding High School on Saturday night.
That was unlike O-G’s regular-season win over the Redskins when it had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win by six points.
“The last time we played I thought we played the whole game at their tempo. They came down and ran sets, they slowed everything down, they pounded it inside to (Sarah) Pothast. They didn’t have an opportunity to do that tonight,” Ottawa-Glandorf coach Troy Yant said.
“It was still a slugfest, there were a lot of bodies hitting the floor. But fortunately we were able to play a little faster than the last time. I think that was the tale of the tape,” he said.
Maybe the biggest reason Ottawa-Glandorf had the opportunity to speed up the game was that the Titans’ defense forced 11 first-half turnovers. That increased the pace of the game, which led to O-G shooting 63 percent in the first half, which produced a 28-13 lead after two quarters.
“We were able to get some steals, we were able to get some rebounds. With Kadie (Hempfling) getting some steals and Lexi (Schroeder) deflecting some passes we were able to get up and down the floor and run more. And Kylie (White) did a pretty good job in the paint, kind of controlling things,” Yant said.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s lead never dropped below 10 points in the second half. The Titans (25-0) won a district championship for the third consecutive season and advanced to a regional semifinal game against Clyde at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ohio Northern University.
White scored 17 points and had seven rebounds to lead Ottawa-Glandorf in both those categories.
Lexi Jacobs scored 19 points for Wapakoneta (17-7).
Wapakoneta coach Rusty Allen said, “The first half was a struggle for us. It just started snowballing for us a little bit.
“When a good team like that goes on a run, you have to make sure you stay composed and hope you can put together a run equivalent to theirs. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that tonight,” he said.
After shooting 4 for 23 in the Titans’ last two games before Saturday night, Hempfling was at the center of O-G’s ability to get up and down the floor and build an early lead. She hit her first two shots, finished with nine points, led the Titans in assists and was disruptive on defense.
“I don’t know if she was in a shooting slump or she was just pressing too hard. A lot of her shots the last few games have been her trying to go through people or trying too hard to make something happen,” Yant said.
“The message before the game was we don’t need her to make that happen, we need her to make the other things happen – get the outlet pass, get the rebound, be the distributor. I thought she did a great job tonight of getting back to what she does best,” he said.
Hempfling said, “I felt like I kind of got out of my groove a little bit.”
But she dismissed the idea she was pressing. “I’m honestly not ever nervous for a game because I love the game of basketball. I always come into every game ready, focused and relaxed,” she said.
Saturday night she was relaxed enough to throw a behind the back pass to White on a fast break for a bucket in the first half when O-G’s lead was only five points.
Even though the Titans won their third consecutive district championship and were Division II state runner-up last season, another district title meant “a lot,” Hempfling said.
“You take one game at a time. We’re not looking at the Schott right now. We’re looking at the regional semifinal game,” she said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.