OTTAWA – There wasn’t much of an argument made for a shot clock at Saturday night’s nonleague boys basketball matchup between Ottawa-Glandorf and Bluffton.
However, if there was a shot clock being used, it would have been very challenging to reset for each change of possession.
From the opening tip, it was off to the races between the two squads.
O-G shifted to overdrive midway through the first quarter and pulled away for a 76-55 victory over Bluffton at Robert J. Hermiller Gymnasium.
O-G (8-1) handed Bluffton (8-1) its first loss on the season.
Ben Westrick led O-G and all scorers with 23 points. The 6-foot-7 Westrick also pulled down five rebounds. Owen Hiegel scored 18 points and dished out nine assists. Braden Fortman and Brennen Blevins came off the bench for O-G and each scored nine points, all coming from behind the 3-point line. Ethan White added eight points and five boards for the Titans.
Mason Soper led Bluffton with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Soper also had five rebounds and four assists. Luke Denecker poured in 18 points, including four 3-pointers.
“We like to get the ball out and go,” O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin said. “We have guys who can spread the floor. The faster the tempo, the better for us, because I’m very confident of our guys coming off the bench. Our guys know if they play hard on the defensive end, at the offensive end they will get a lot of freedom. That’s something our guys have done really well this year.”
Bluffton kept it close in the early going. But as the game progressed, O-G got the Pirates on their heels.
“They are so good, offensively,” Bluffton coach Todd Boblitt said about O-G. “To give ourselves a chance, we knew we had to take care of the ball and control the tempo. I thought, for the most part, we took care of the ball. But we played their tempo; and we are likely not going to win at that pace.”
The lead changed hands five times in the first quarter before O-G pulled out to a 21-14 lead by the first stop. Westrick led the Titans with 13 first-quarter points, mostly off strong moves near the basket.
Early on, Bluffton had little trouble breaking O-G’s press. However, O-G’s tight defensive pressure eventually forced four Bluffton turnovers, late in the first stanza.
Westrick continued to dominate in the second quarter, pouring in eight points inside the paint. The Pirates had no answer for the junior forward.
“He’s an elite athlete,” McGlaughlin said about Westrick. “He’s 6-7 and he’s athletic; and he’s starting to come into his own. He’s starting to get more aggressive. We found some areas where we thought we would be able to attack them. We knew they would give a lot of attention to Owen (Hiegel) and Carter (Heringhaus, five points) on the perimeter. So, we had to take advantage of down low. He (Westrick) got us off to a really good start.”
The Titans extended their lead to 14, 33-19, by the 5:38 mark of the second quarter. Blevins came off the bench and nailed three 3-pointers to help ignite O-G.
“He’s one of those guys who is starting to play more,” McGlaughlin said of Blevins. “He’s been a JV guy, but we’re getting him sprinkled in there with the varsity. He’s just a deadly shooter.”
O-G led 42-29 by the halftime break. Westrick ended the first half with 21 points. The Titans shot 17 of 30 from the field in the first 16 minutes of action.
Bluffton made 12 of 24 from the floor. Denecker led the Pirates with 14 first-half points.
The Titans led 60-41 by the end of the third quarter. Fortman came off the bench and canned two 3-pointers. In all, O-G hit four times behind the arc in the third stanza.
“A heck of a week for Braden Fortman,” McGlaughlin said. “He had 24 points last night (Friday’s win over Bath). He had three more threes tonight. He plays really hard.”
For the game, Bluffton held the slight edge on the boards, 21-20.
Bluffton turned the ball over 13 times, while O-G turned it over just five times.
Both teams shot 55 percent from the floor. However, O-G got off 15 more shot attempts.
This season, Bluffton does not have a senior on the roster.
“We have a young group,” Boblitt said. “There’s no better atmosphere in the area for a basketball game. So, I thought our guys competed the right way. We want to grow. We want to continue to get better. I think this game will help us down the line.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.