OTTAWA— There was no pressure on Ottawa-Glandorf but the Titans’ 82-73 boys basketball win over Elida on Friday night was all about pressure.
O-G (21-1, 9-0 WBL) had already wrapped up an undisputed Western Buckeye League championship regardless of what happened against Elida. But it was pressure of another kind that played a big role – maybe the biggest role – when the Titans’ defense forced 24 turnovers by Elida.
Those two dozen turnovers created opportunities for Ottawa-Glandorf and took opportunities away from Elida throughout the game.
Owen Hiegel scored 22 points, Ethan White had 16 and Jay Kaufman scored 13 to lead O-G. Daniel Unruh had 33 points for Elida (18-4, 5-4 WBL) on 13 of 18 shooting, including four 3-pointers and Calan Henderson scored 17.
Elida shot 58 percent on field goals (29 of 50) but didn’t get the ball into scoring position as often as it needed.
The Bulldogs battled back from being down 11 points in the first minute of the second quarter to cut O-G’s halftime lead to 37-33, then scored the first bucket of the second half to make it a two-point game.
After the Titans pushed the lead back to nine points twice in the third quarter, Elida got it down to three points with just under six minutes to play at 58-55. But Ottawa-Glandorf never let the lead drop below five points after getting its next score.
“We would have had to play really well (to win). I was pleased with our effort here. But we gave them spurts, which they thrive on,” Elida coach Denny Thompson said.
The first of those spurts came in a 10-0 run late in the first quarter and in first minute of the second quarter, including two 3-pointers within a minute by Bryce Schroeder to end the first quarter.
Another one was in the third quarter when Elida had more turnovers (9) that shots (6) in the first 5 ½ minutes of the quarter as O-G rebuilt its lead to nine points.
“They shot the ball lights out and Unruh had one of those special nights. Our guys battled, it wasn’t our best game. I thought we had a couple chances to really slam the door but we were never able to. The pressure wore them down a little bit,” Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin said.
“We were able to push the lead but we just weren’t able to throw that haymaker tonight,” he said.
When Elida began to push back, especially in the second half, the O-G response often came from Hiegel.
“O was spectacular tonight. He had one of those nights that anytime they got close, he made a play,” McGlaughlin said.
Elida ended Ottawa-Glandorf’s season in a Division II district semifinal game last year after the Titans had won by 11 points over the Bulldogs during the regular season. But McGlaughlin said he was determined not to make this game about revenge.
“It wasn’t a revenge game for us, it was just a statement. We wanted to go out against a good team and show what we could do. We already knew we had the WBL title but we wanted to run the table,” he said.
Thompson said, “You’re not going to handle that pressure every time. And even when we did handle it, they almost want you to take a quick shot. We didn’t mind taking good shots in transition when we beat it but I thought a couple times we took shots we didn’t really need to take.
“I’m thrilled with our effort. I thought it was a really good high school basketball game,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.