OTTAWA – Head west to be the best. Or in Ottawa-Glandorf’s case continue to be the best in the Western Buckeye League.
The Titans, winners of three straight WBL titles and owners of a 18-game win streak in the league, open play against St. Marys in hopes of garnering a fourth consecutive league crown.
Ottawa-Glandorf is off 2-0 start in the season with big wins over Bryan (77-41) and Liberty Center (93-46).
Preparation for this season began in the summer when Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Tyson McGlaughlin trekked his Titans to Indiana to give his guys an opportunity to play some of the better teams in the Hoosier state.
Because the team lost six seniors from a 24-2 squad who’s season ended in regional finals to Archbold, McGlaughlin was looking to see what he had with a team that returned five letter winners, seniors Owen Hiegel, Ethan White, Carter Heringhause, Braden Fortman and junior Aaron Rieman.
“We had six seniors last year and those six guys gave us a lot of experience and a lot toughness and when you lose a group like that you have to figure out what you are going to do next,” McGlaughlin said. “The one thing we do is we try to play the toughest schedule we can during the summer that we possibly can.”
Engaging in several tournaments, McGlaughlin said his squad went toe-to-toe and competed with some of the best talent basketball talent Indiana had to offer and he knew that was a positive sign this group was heading in the right direction.
Replacing all-state performer Jay Kaufman and all-league performer Jake Dible is something McGlaughlin knows is going to be tough and he focused on this during the summer and realized it will take a total team effort to fill the void left by not only this duo but the other graduated seniors.
“We lost some key guys so who is going to replace those guys?” McGlaughlin said. “It can’t be just one person so it is going to be a collective effort and competing in those tournaments at a high level gave all our guys confidence.”
McGlaughlin said the summer play bonded an already close knit group who continued what they did in the summer into preseason and early practices and the Titan head coach added that team chemistry can be vital in clutch situations.
In addition to working on the team coming together, McGlaughlin said he looks for energy from the players and that focus to really improve.
“I also look for leadership,” McGlaughlin said. “It is easy to be a good leader when things are going well. It’s tough when you face some adversity and I think how other guys respond to that leadership is a telling-tale and I am very fortunate where I can coach and I can get on kids…and these kids accept that and that is a telling sign as a program and when you get that a lot of great things can happen.”
McGlaughlin said Hiegel and White bring the most experience to this year’s team and this duo not only leads by example but are also vocal when the time calls for it. Last year, White was a first team All-WBL selection and a second team All-Northwest Ohio honoree who averaged 15 points and four assists . White earned third-team All-league and All-Northwest district accolades after averaging 10 points and four rebounds a contest.
“When those guys say something everybody istens,” McGlaughlin said. “After a while they block me out but when those guys say something it holds weight and substance so that is a great thing.”
As the Titans seem to be putting it together, evidence by the team’s performance in the first two games, Ottawa-Glandorf know braces for the rigors of the WBL.
McGlaughlin admits that there is no talk about the WBL win streak and said the players are probably unaware of how long it is. Instead the Titan head coach said the team’s primary focus in improvement and preparing for every team’s best effort.
“Our schedule is not scheduled to go undefeated,” McGlaughlin said. “We probably play one of the toughest Division III schedules in the state of Ohio. I will ours against anybody and that is to get us ready for the tournament run.”
McGlaughlin adds that the WBL is always a grind and he knows the Titans are going to have to battle every Friday night.
“We don’t take anybody for granted,” McGlaughlin said. “We know if we play hard good things are going to happen but we definitely know we are just going to show up and get wins.”