BOWLING GREEN — Ottawa-Glandorf’s season was dedicated to a second chance.
So maybe it was appropriate that the Titans took advantage of a second chance to make that dream a reality.
With a 60-56 overtime victory over Bloom-Carroll in the Division III boys basketball regional championship at Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center, O-G returned to the state tournament for a second consecutive season. The Titans will play No. 3-ranked Ironton (23-2) at 10:45 a.m. Thursday in the state semifinals at Value City Arena. Ironton beat Oak Hill 66-49 on Saturday.
But to get there, the Titans (24-3) had to go into overtime after watching an eight-point lead disappear in the final 3 ½ minutes of the fourth quarter.
A year ago, with an all-underclassman starting lineup, Ottawa-Glandorf played its way into the state tournament but lost in the semifinals to Portsmouth.
This year that lineup returned intact, dealt with all the expectations and pressure that comes with such a situation, and made it back to Columbus.
“Right after that game last year we all said to each other, ‘We’re coming back,’” point guard Matthew “Chewy” Kaufman said.
Sophomore post player Noah Bramlage (15 points, nine rebounds), T.J. Metzger (13 points) and Michael Rosebrock (13 points) led the Titans.
They dominated the rebounding stats, 38-25, and Kaufman played all 36 minutes and guarded Bloom-Carroll’s top scorer, Eastern Kentucky recruit Isaac McGlone.
McGlone finished with 30 points and his backcourt partner Joey Schmitz scored 16.
Beating Bloom-Carroll (26-2) wasn’t easy late or early in the game. The Bulldogs led by as many as seven points in the first half and refused to go away even when O-G went up by eight points twice in the fourth quarter.
In fact, it wasn’t easy for the Titans even before the game. During warm-ups, Bramlage, a 6-foot, 7-inch sophomore, stepped on a teammate’s foot, twisted his ankle and had to be helped off the court.
But he matched Kaufman’s 36 minutes of playing time and delivered eight crucial free throws in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“I’m only a sophomore so high school has been fun so far,” Bramlage said as he considered two trips to state in his first two years in high school. “I didn’t know high school basketball would be this much fun. I guess going to state twice doesn’t hurt.”
O-G broke out to a 27-27 halftime tie and built a 38-32 lead after three quarters. It went up 47-39 with 3:40 to play, but then turned the ball over on five consecutive possessions and found itself down 48-47 on 3-pointer by McGlone with 1:35 left in the game.
“In the fourth quarter they had nothing to lose. We made a few careless mistakes, which we usually don’t do. But we were able to pick each other up and come out with the win,” Kaufman said.
Metzger hit a free throw to tie the game at 48-48 and it stayed that way into overtime when McGlone missed a shot and O-G didn’t score before time ran out.
In the overtime, Bloom-Carroll missed its first five shots and Ottawa-Glandorf went up 55-48. The Bulldogs cut the lead to three points at 59-56 with 11 seconds left on the clock but O-G held on.
“We let them back in the game but we kept our cool and made big plays when we needed to. It’s not how pretty it is, it’s just whether you move on,” Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin said.
“I think a lot of people thought this was going to be a lot easier than we knew it would be. That is the best guard combo we’ve seen. They shoot the ball so well and there’s no limit. They’ll shoot the ball from 25 feet out or farther.
“I don’t think people realize the pressure that was on these guys (O-G’s players). Getting to state last year with a lot of underclassmen, the expectations just happen. People just take it for granted sometime,” he said.
For Bloom-Carroll, this was another reminder that nothing gets taken for granted in tournaments.
The Bulldogs have played in nine regional tournaments and made it to the state tournament only once, in 1994, when they were beaten in the semifinals by Lima Central Catholic.