OTTOVILLE — The anticipation and community support for Friday’s Ottoville Girls High School basketball team competing at state has been building all week with downtown businesses decorating their store fronts and town residents talking excitedly about the game.
The team advances to the semifinals to meet Shadyside at 3 p.m. Friday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. It is the team’s eighth time going to state and third consecutive year at the competition, earning runner-up titles in 2005 and 2018.
As people drive through downtown, they can see local businesses that have encouraging messages on their windows supporting the team. Customers and employees at Valero, Millie’s Cafe and local banks talk excitedly talked about the upcoming game.
The window outside Ottoville Hardware is painted with green and gold letters that reads “Good Luck Ottoville ‘Big Green’ on the Tournament Trail.” Other businesses have foam basketballs and streamers in their windows.
The hardware business has encouraged the community to support the team by giving away free gold and green light bulbs to customers, according to Joel Edelbrock, Ottoville Hardware manager.
“We want to show support for the athletes and how good they are doing and how far they have gone,” Edelbrock said.
He attended Saturday’s game and said the girls played very well. He looks forward to going to the state game with his daughter Cambri, who is a senior and cheerleader at the high school.
Lifelong Ottoville resident and 1965 Ottoville High School graduate Pam Schnipke visited Ottoville Bank and said she is excited about the game. The bank had a “Good Luck Big Green” sign posted at the bank’s entrance.
“The game Saturday was exciting, and I like to watch how the girls work so well together,” Schnipke said. She said it is important to support all of the school’s sports teams and said the high school is a good community school.
Kyle Bendele, a 2002 Ottoville high school graduate and owner of Millie’s Restaurant, said the restaurant was packed Saturday with fans.
“This is the third year in the row they have gone to state and we hope they can get it done this year,” Bendele said.
Trevor Fischer, a 2017 Ottoville high school graduate, was pumping gas Monday at Valero on Main Street and said it is good for the community to support the high school in athletics and academics.
“It takes a community to raise a kid and the community gets behind them and gives them inspiration and hope knowing that they have their town with them no matter win or lose,” Kleman said
David Kleman, Ottoville girl’s basketball coach, said the community support uplifts the players during the game.
“In Elida, the game was packed with 3,000 people from both communities. Over the past 27 years I have coached, I have seen groups of grandmas who come to cheer us on, and now we have former players and their kids support us,” Kleman said.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.