COLUMBUS – Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin challenged the Titans all week in practice leading up to their 61-60 overtime win over Ironton in a semifinal of the Division III boys basketball state tournament on Thursday.
And maybe none of them got a bigger challenge than senior guard Matthew Kaufman.
Kaufman was handed the challenge of guarding Ironton’s high-scoring senior guard Zac Carter, who came into the game averaging 23.9 points a game.
Carter finished the game with just over half of his average when he scored 12 points. He missed shots he usually hits, took shots he shouldn’t have taken and was not Ironton’s first option offensively except for a few plays.
“I said it at the beginning of the year and I’m saying it now. You can’t put a value on what this guy (Kaufman) does for our team,” McGlaughlin said.
“He doesn’t always make it look pretty. T.J. Metzger is a great player, Michael Rosebrock is a great player, Noah Bramlage is a great player. But I’m telling you if we don’t have No. 4 playing for us, we’re not here,” he said.
Besides his defense, Kaufman scored 11 points, had six assists, had a big steal in the fourth quarter and scored the game-tying basket with two seconds left in regulation.
“I take a lot of pride in my defense. I don’t really score a lot. I usually set up the offense and let my teammates do the rest,” Kaufman said.
“When it comes to the defensive side, I take a lot of pride in that. He (Carter) is a great player. He’s going to get his shots. I just did my best to disrupt him and keep him off balance.”
McGlaughlin said he intentionally dropped continual references about how much of a challenge Carter would be into practice sessions.
That’s because he knew stopping Carter was crucial if O-G was going to win.
“Carter couldn’t get 25 tonight. If he got 25, we’re just watching the rest of the weekend,” McGlaughlin said.
Carter said, “They’re hard to get around. Every shot is contested. And they did a good job of playing help defense.”
McGlaughlin said, “We take a lot of pride in the way we play defense and play our roles but that is easier said than done.”
Kaufman played his defensive role perfectly. And he provided some scoring, as did senior guard Jacob Leopold, who got four points in the final minute of the third quarter on an offensive rebound and two free throws.