OTTOVILLE – Ottoville boys basketball coach Keith Utendorf wanted to see how his young team would respond with one of its key players not on the floor.
Sophomore Ryan Suever was out with an injury for Tuesday’s nonconference game with visiting Allen East.
Utendorf’s players delivered.
After falling behind early, Ottoville came back and pulled out with a hard-fought 59-49 victory Tuesday night at L.W. Heckman Gymnasium.
Sophomore Josh Thorbahn led Ottoville and all scorers with 20 points, including 7 of 10 shooting from the free throw line. The 6-foot-5 Thorbahn also came away with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Kyle Manns had 15 points, including two 3-pointers. Joseph Miller added nine points and three steals for the Big Green.
Bradden Crumrine led the way for Allen East with 15 points. Logan McCluer scored nine points, while Tyler Clum and Brady Harris each scored eight points for the Mustangs.
With the win, Ottoville improves to 12-3. Allen East slips to 6-6.
“We had some adversity, obviously,” Utendorf said. “(6-7) Ryan (Suever) didn’t play tonight, and we had another kid sick. So, I’m proud of our kids on figuring out a way to win.”
Allen East jumped out to a 5-2 lead. A 3-pointer by Crumrine and a fast-break basket by McCluer gave the Mustangs the early advantage.
Ottoville claimed its first lead of the game at the 3:37 mark of the first quarter, 7-6, on 3-pointer by Thorbahn.
However, the Mustangs responded.
Two bombs by Clum helped push Allen East back out to a 14-7 lead.
Ottoville closed out the first stanza with a 4-0 run to cut the deficit to 3, 14-11.
Ottoville reclaimed the lead, 15-14, a little more than a minute into the second quarter on a steal and fast-break basket by Joseph Miller.
Miller came right back on the following possession for the Big Green and hit a 3-pointer, giving his team an 18-14 lead.
Ottoville led 30-25 by the halftime break. The Big Green limited the Mustangs to just 3 of 7 shooting in the second quarter.
Thorbahn led the Big Green with 11 first-half points. Crumrine led the Mustangs in the first half with seven points.
“Allen East has some good young kids,” Utendorf said. “They shoot the ball really well and they make it difficult to guard. So, I thought our kids responding to that initial wave they came out with was a great test for our kids.”
Allen East kept it close in the third quarter. The game was knotted at 34 apiece at the 1:30 mark, on a field goal by Crumrine.
Ottoville slipped out with a 37-34 lead by the third stop. Allen East turned the ball over seven times in the third stanza.
Manns ignited the Big Green in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points, including two 3-pointers.
“Kyle Manns stepped up, especially in the second half,” Utendorf said. “Drew Fisher (four points) did some great things in the second half. There were a lot of guys that had to step up tonight.”
For the game, Ottoville turned the ball over 13 times. Allen East turned the ball over 22 times.
Ottoville shot 42 percent from the field, while Allen East shot 41 percent.
“For a while, we just couldn’t throw it in the ocean if we tried,” Utendorf said. “But that’s a testament to our kids for just keeping it coming, just keeping that mentality, keeping that pressure. We’ll figure it out. That’s kind of been our thing, lately.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.