OTTAWA — Even the best teams can use a wake-up call at times.
Ottawa-Glandorf and Ironton, its opponent in the Division III boys state basketball tournament Thursday, can both point to a wake-up call they say helped get them where they are.
For the Titans, it was a 49-48 loss to St. Marys on Feb. 8. Since then they’ve won nine games in a row.
Ironton had a similar experience when it suffered its first loss of the season by 22 points in a holiday tournament in Florida in December. The Tigers’ only two losses of the season came on that trip.
Most teams probably would not be talking about wake-up calls during seasons like these two teams have had — No. 6 O-G is 24-3 and No. 3 Ironton is 23-2.
But most teams don’t set their standards as high as these two.
Ottawa-Glandorf is in the Division III state tournament for the second season in a row. Coach Tyson McGlaughlin has been the Titans head coach for two years and has been to the state tournament twice.
O-G won the Division III state title in 2008, won the Division II trophy in 2004, was Division II runner-up in 1996 and a semifinalist in 1977 and 1978. Ironton narrowly missed last year’s state tournament when it lost 50-40 in the regional championship game to Portsmouth, which went on to beat Ottawa-Glandorf in the state semifinals.
“I don’t really care where we got the losses, whether it was in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana or Florida. Losses are losses,” Ironton coach Mark LaFon said.
“But I think that trip (to Florida) was good for us. We’d won a few games early in the season and went into that tournament and kind of got knocked around a little in the first game. It kind of woke our kids up a little bit. It was kind of a gut check and we got on a roll from there on out,” he said.
Ironton is led by 5-foot, 9-inch guard Zac Carter (23.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists) and 6-6 Trey Fletcher (20.4 points, 7.6 rebounds). Trevor White, a 6-4 inside player, averages 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.
O-G’s starting lineup returns intact from last year’s trip to the state tournament, which ended with a 74-66 loss to Portsmouth in the semifinals.
T.J. Metzger (16.1 points, 4.5 rebounds), Michael Rosebrock (12.9 points, 8 rebounds) and Noah Bramlage (10.5 points, 7 rebounds) lead the Titans. Caleb Siefker (6 points a game) and Matthew Kaufman (4.6 points) all started last season. Bramlage is a sophomore and the other four are seniors.
“It starts with their point guard,” O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin said about Ironton. “He’s the real deal. You’re not going to totally shut down a player like Zac Carter, but you have to contain him. When you’re playing in big games in the tournament, it typically comes down to defense and rebounding and those are two things we’re going to put major emphasis on Thursday.
“We had high expectations coming into the year. We had five starters and eight lettermen back. Our goal ultimately was to get back to Columbus and hopefully finish off the deal,” he said.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s players say they’ve learned some lessons from going to last year’s state tournament.
“I think we were kind of in shock last season,” Metzger said.
Bramlage said, “I can’t tell you how ready and excited we are to get back to Columbus. I think last year we were surprised to get there. This year this team is on a mission.”
Siefker said, “ You have to play your hardest every play. You can’t take anything for granted. I felt like we came out last year and we were like, ‘Oh man, we’re here at state.’ We never really went out and got it. We were kind of passive.
“We dug ourselves a huge hole,” he said. “We know we have to come out firing on all cylinders, like we did against LCC (in the regional semifinal).”
O-G and Ironton tip off at 10:45 a.m. Thursday at the Value City Arena. Versailles (22-5) and Leavittsburg LaBrae (24-3) will play the other Division III semifinal at 2 p.m.
• Six Ottawa-Glandorf basketball players played on the Titans football team that reached the Division IV regional final and four of them were on the boys soccer team that played in the regional championship game.
Metzger was the Western Buckeye League soccer Player of the Year and Kaufman was on the first team. Siefker quarterbacked the football team and was first-team All-Ohio as a defensive back.
• Versailles coach Scott McEldowney is the brother of Roger McEldowney, the Tigers’ coach when they were Division III runner-up in 2004. Roger McEldowney also was the girls basketball coach at Jackson Center when it won the 1995 Division VI state championship.