ELIDA — Bridget Landin and her Ottoville teammates ripped through the regional finals like a firehose on full throttle.
The Ottoville senior carved her way through the Leipsic zone and her teammates fed her the ball.
Landin had 23 points and nine rebounds to power Ottoville to a 52-29 victory over Leipsic in the Division IV girls basketball regional championship Saturday at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Ottoville (26-2) advances to the state semifinals against the Buckeye Central (25-1)/Dalton (22-4) winner at 1 p.m. Thursday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
Leipsic ends its season 23-4.
It marks Ottoville’s seventh trip to state and second in a row.
“It feels amazing,” the senior Landin said. “It’s unreal. It feels really good to get back there.
“I was ready to play. I was determined. I really wanted to get back to state with these girls.’’
Ottoville’s C.J. Kemper said the team has a reminder of last year’s state loss to Berlin Hiland in the team’s locker room.
“It feels awesome,” Kemper said. “Last year was awesome, but we didn’t get the outcome we wanted. We have that picture of Berlin Hiland storming the court of their (game-winning) shot hanging up in our locker room. We wanted it so bad. We’re on a mission and it’s not done yet.’’
Kasey Knippen had 13 points with three 3-pointers for the Big Green. Kemper chipped in with eight points and six rebounds.
“It’s like taking your grandkids to Cedar Point or Disneyworld and it’s their first time and you’ve been their six times,” Ottoville coach Dave Kleman said. “You’re seeing through new eyes every time. It’s neat to see them enjoy it.’’
Kierra Meyer had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Leipsic. Heather Lammers had 10 points before fouling out with 2:24 to go.
In the Putnam County League regular-season matchup between the two, Ottoville defeated Leipsic 38-26 on Feb. 3.
Leipsic came out in a 2-3 zone and Ottoville jumped out to a 9-2 early lead behind two 3-pointers by Quinley Schlagbaum and Knippen.
“We knew they were going to do it (zone), we just had to be more patient,” Kleman said. “We had to get the ball reversed and get it to our scorers and get it to Bridget. … Bridget is a really good passer and she can kick it out of there to find the shooters and hit the threes.’’
Leipsic charged back and got within 11-9.
From that point, the Big Green ripped off an 11-1 run to end the first half.
Ottoville led 22-10 at the half.
The Big Green 1-2-2 press accounted for 10 Vikings’ turnovers at the half.
The Vikings finished with 15 turnovers, many against the press. But even if they broke the press, they found it difficult to run their pet set plays against the Ottoville defense.
“Gary (Kreinbrink, Leipsic’s coach) runs some great sets,” Kleman said. “But if you take the halfcourt game away from them, hopefully that helps us to limit their ability to get their scorers the ball.’’
Landin was a major factor down low with 10 first-half points, including a 3-pointer to end the half. She had three 3-pointers on the night.
The Big Green never let the Vikings back in the game.
In the third quarter, Landin got inside for two baskets, then dropped a pair of 3-pointers. She scored 11 in the third, as the Big Green pulled out to a 41-25 lead.
“We were working the ball around, then got it inside,” Landin said.
Knippen also sank two 3-pointers over the zone in the third.
Kemper banged her way around inside all night, played defense in the press and handed out five assists.
Ottoville won the boards 30-24.
The Big Green shot 39 percent from the floor and was 7 of 14 on 3-pointers.
Leipsic shot only 30 percent and was 1 of 7 on 3-pointers.
“I knew we could do it if we put our hearts out on the floor and played,” Landin said.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.