OTTOVILLE — The Ottoville girls basketball team is known for its stellar defense.
That defense worked its magic once more Saturday afternoon against Columbus Grove .
The Big Green held the Bulldogs to 31.8 percent shooting in lifting in a 49-33 Putnam County League triumph.
Columbus Grove (8-3, 1-2 PCL) was held to 14-of-44 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-10 from 3-point range.
“We had to bounce back from a very tough loss to Kalida on Thursday. We hurt ourselves by not playing a clean defensive game and we still only lost by three in overtime,” Ottoville head coach Dave Kleman said. “We were much better today than we were Thursday on the defensive end. We only had a day to correct our mistakes and change some attitudes and got back to what we try to do on defense. We played as a team today, much more than Thursday. Credit goes to the girls for that.”
Offensively, the Big Green (10-2, 2-1 PCL) canned 17-of-47 from the floor, including 5-of-16 from beyond the arc, for 36.2 percent.
“We didn’t execute our offensive game plan. Part of that is the way Ottoville can play defense,” Columbus Grove head coach Brian Schroeder said. “We had 10 days off from our last game to today, so we looked at how we were going to play them and what we were going to try to do. At the same time, we came out flat. Though you have more practice time, you aren’t necessarily working against another varsity-level team in practice like in a game. You’re not getting the same look as far as conditioning in getting up and down the floor like you would with a game. That time off ended up hurting us.”
Ottoville’s defense held strong from the start, despite four early points from Angel Schneider (10 points overall, 6 rebounds) as Grove was a cold 3-of-16 from the floor in the opener. On the other side of the court, Nicole Knippen (game-high 19 points) scored five points in the first period to lead Ottoville as it downed 5-of-14 from the field. When Brynlee Hanneman (7 rebounds) hit the second of two free throws at the 17.3–second mark of the first period, Ottoville’s lead stood at 13-6.
The Big Green did it again in the second period, this time forcing eight Grove turnovers (out of 17 for the game). They also began to reverse a 10-7 rebounding deficit from the first period with a 12-10 edge in the second period. After Grove got within 13-10 on a pair of buckets from Rylee Sybert (team-high 15 points) and Angel Schneider, Ottoville slowly began to build its lead the rest of the period, grabbing a 28-12 lead by halftime as Hanneman dropped a basket with 40 seconds left in the half.
“It always takes longer for us to figure out our identity on offense. Nicole has been playing well but we seem to be getting a few more girls to be consistent threats,” Kleman said. “On that side of things, you have to have the girls willing to take shots. Because of what teams are doing to Nicole, like face-guarding her, we are running more things for others to get shots. We’re getting good shots and today, the girls were making them. We need to continue that trend as we go on and keep making the shots we’re taking on a regular basis.”
Schroeder felt the key was falling behind early, forcing his team to come from behind.
“We didn’t shoot well and Ottoville shot better than us. We knew we’d get their best effort coming off a tough loss to Kalida,” Schroeder said. “We did a good job on Hanneman but the Knippens both had good games against us. The one thing you know when you face a team the caliber of Ottoville is they will expose your weaknesses. When you’re winning, you don’t always approach a game with that in mind. When you lose, it forces you to take a step back and look at yourself and what you need to refocus on more deeply.”
Try as they might, Columbus Grove could only get as close as 11 in the third period – 32-21 on a 3-point play by Sybert at 3:29. From then on in the period, Ottoville closed with a 6-3 spurt to secure a 38-24 edge on a free throw by Knippen with 20.8 seconds on the clock.
Ottoville was looking to put the game away in the fourth period and built its lead to 43-26 on a 3-pointer by Knippen. Columbus Grove did manage to get within 43-33 on a 3-pointer from the right wing by Sybert at 4:34 but the Big Green slowed the game down, running their offense and eventually forcing Columbus Grove to come out and foul. Ottoville finished the game off with six in a row in the last 1:49 to grab the PCL win.
Amy Vorst led the Grove rebounding effort with seven, while Sybert added three steals.
Haley Hoersten led the Big Green’s board work with eight and Nicole Knippen added seven. Quinley Schlagbaum led in assists with five. Kasey Knippen also scored 10 for Ottoville.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.