BOWLING GREEN — It wasn’t quite the start Leipsic was looking for.
With its top two scorers — Devin Mangas and Austin Brown — getting into early foul trouble, the Vikings had good reason to be concerned.
The Vikings weathered the first half and fought off Edgerton in the fourth quarter en route to a 57-49 win in a Division IV boys regional semifinal at the Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University on Tuesday.
Leipsic (23-4), making its first trip to the regionals since 1995, will take on Ottawa Hills (22-4) in the regional championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Stroh Center. Ottawa Hills defeated Colonel Crawford in Tuesday’s other semifinal, 53-40.
Despite playing just 16 total minutes, Brown led Leipsic with 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, as well as 7-of-8 shooting from the free throw line.
Mangas, who sat on the bench six minutes in the first half and scored just one field goal, came back in the second half and added another 12 points to his total.
Leipsic coach Scott Maag knew Edgerton would make a run in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been there before,” Maag said. “We knew this team was good. You don’t win 22 games and get to regionals and not be any good. We knew we had to take their best punch. …We knew it was coming. For some reason it happens in the fourth quarter to us.”
After Leipsic slipped into the halftime break with a 24-17 lead, the Vikings fought off an Edgerton run in the third quarter and led 40-31 by the third stop.
Leipsic opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets off turnovers. Josh Gerter and Mangas each scored off Edgerton turnovers, pushing its lead to 44-31.
However, Edgerton battled back, eventually knotting the game at 47-47 with four minutes left to play.
That’s when Brown stepped up and put it on his shoulders.
Brown scored eight of Leipsic’s final 10 points to lead his team on a 10-2 run to close out the game.
In the fourth quarter, Brown scored 10 points. He made 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final period.
“We have so many shooters on our team,” Brown said. “There are so many guys who can step up at any given time. At districts, it was Devin who scored all the points (66 points total in two games). So, we jumped on his back and rode him. Tonight, it seemed like he wasn’t having his game, so I knew I had to put it on my shoulders and pretty much carry us.”
Jacob Adams, a 6-foot-2 post player, was Edgerton’s primary offensive threat, registering a game-high 25 points and 16 rebounds. Adams scored his team’s first nine points of the game and ended the first half with 13 points and 10 boards. Ben Riehle added 11 for the Bulldogs.
“That fourth quarter was huge,” Brown said. “They went on their run and we called a time-out and Coach knew what to call up. We ran it to perfection. We scored two points and we were right where we needed to be.”
However, it was a slow start in the first quarter.
Leipsic slipped out to a 10-5 lead by the end of the first quarter. In the second period, the Vikings, behind three field goals by Brown, pulled out to the seven-point halftime lead.
“We didn’t make baskets,” Edgerton coach Matt Ripke said. “We turned it over, they scored in transition.”
For the game, Leipsic shot 44 percent from the field. Edgerton shot 38 percent.
In the turnover department, Edgerton committed 20 turnovers while Leipsic turned it over 11 times.
“We’ve got a very tight team,” Maag said. “They don’t care who scores. They care about one thing and one thing only, and that’s winning. It’s fun to ride on the coattails of some very special kids. This is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”