LEXINGTON – Just like that, it was over for Western Reserve and just as quickly Ottawa-Glandorf was on its way to the girls state basketball tournament for a fourth straight year.
After a bit of a slow start in the Lexington Division III regional championship game on Saturday, the Titans roared back to finish the first half with a 22-4 run for a 30-16 halftime lead on their way to a 62-40 win.
Two minutes into the second half, they put Western Reserve closer to a running clock than it was to them and Columbus was calling.
O-G, a state runner-up in 2015 and 2016 and a semifinalist last season, will play Columbus Africentric at 8 p.m. Thursday in a Division III state semifinal.
“Going to the Schott four times in a row is just an amazing feeling,” said Kadie Hempfling, who led Ottawa-Glandorf with 17 points, 10 steals, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Point guard Erin Kaufman said, “We lost our two seniors, Kylie (White) and Lexi (Schroeder), and people thought we were going to be kind of rocky this year. But we all stepped up. We knew we had to do it. We all came together and worked really, really hard and hard work pays off.”
Kaufman scored 14 points and Paige Sutter had 10 points for O-G (25-2). Cora Wyers scored 13 points for Western Reserve (23-4).
Western Reserve led 12-8 with 1:18 left in the first quarter when the Titans scored on an unusual four-point sequence where all four points came on offensive rebounds in a span of fewer than 10 seconds.
Kaufman recycled missed shot for a basket and was fouled. She missed the free throw but Hempfling grabbed the rebound and scored to tie the game. Western Reserve never led again.
Ottawa-Glandorf turned the game around so abruptly by going back to the basics, coach Troy Yant said.
With an eye on containing Western Reserve’s two 6-foot starters, the Titans switched back and forth from a man-to-man and a zone in the early going. But when it went away from that plan, good things happened.
O-G’s man-to-man pressure produced eight turnovers in the second quarter and Western Reserve was 1 of 12 on field goals in those eight minutes.
“We were mixing things up in the first quarter and it didn’t work for us. So we just scrapped it and went straight man and put a little pressure on them,” Yant said.
“I thought the girls played really well. It’s what we do. We were doing something because they were big but once we got back to doing what we do we kind of broke the game open.
“We wanted to pressure them and get up and down the floor and kind of break it open so that we could get the buckets Kadie can get us in transition and the girls can kind of get out and run. There were some girls we thought we could pressure,” he said.
Hempfling said she wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary to accumulate double-figures steals.
“I was just playing my game. I had 10 steals? Wow. OK,” she said.
Western Reserve coach Brett Robson said his team might have had kind of a “Wow,” reaction to its appearance in a regional championship game.
“It was a familiar format, I guess is the word I’m looking for, for them. It was new to us. We’ve got experience on our ball club, too, but not in tournament play. You’ve got the big gym, you’ve got the big crowd and that’s a different ball game,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.