ELIDA —Ottoville’s big defensive effort and clutch outside shooting helped the Big Green hold off Hopewell-Loudon 47-41 in the Division IV regional semifinal Thursday night at the Elida Field House.
The Big Green advance to the regional final game against Arlington at Elida at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Ottoville head coach Dave Kleman said Hopewell-Loudon has a bright future with the amount of young talent the Chieftians have but the Big Green utilized their veteran leadership and tenacity to get past Hopewell-Loudon.
“This time of year I always tell the girls `what do we have to do,’ and it is always grind it out,” Kleman said. “I said that’s right. Was it pretty? No. What was it? I hold my fingers (in the shape of a W) and that is all that matters this time of the year. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to be a W.”
Ottoville’s Haley Hoersten led the Big Green in scoring with 14 points. Teammate Kasey Knippen scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
In the first game, Arlington moved into the regional final after defeating Stryker, 69-50. Arlington’s Jenna Peppl, who scored 23 points, led a quartet of Red Devils who broke double digits in scoring. Teammate Hannah Willow pumped in 14 points and Lindsey Dodds and Sarah Solt each added 11 points.
For Stryker, Brittney Haines scored 15 points.
Credit the inside defensive work of Tori Thomas, Alexis Honigford, and Brynlee Hanneman and Kasey Knippen all battled inside to try and stop Elmore. In the first eight minutes, Elmore was held to no points and four in the first half.
“That is normal what we do,” Kleman said about the team’s defensive performance. “We did a pretty good job. The Elmore girl I think is a Big-10 prospect because athletically she does so much and she hit a couple of 3’s at the end. I mean when you are 6-3 and can stroke it like that they will be coming out of the woodwork looking for her.”
Ottoville gave themselves some breathing room at the onset of the second half when they opened with a 14-1 run. In the run, the Big Green got four consecutive treys and produced four turnovers.
“We are capable of that,” Kleman said. “All our girls can shoot the 3-pointer and really in the first half did not shoot the ball very well but we told the girls at halftime ‘did we make a lot of shots. No. Were they good shots? Yes. So keep shooting them.”
With a smothering defense and some precision perimeter shooting, Ottoville jumped out to an early 11-3 lead at the 5:01 mark. Big Green’s Brynlee Hanneman, Kasey Knippen and Nicole Knippen popped clutch treys to give Ottoville the early advantage.
In that first quarter, the Chieftains committed six turnovers
By the 6:12 mark of the second period, Ottoville opened up its biggest lead of the game, 18-6. However, the Chieftains appeared to have shaken off those first quarter jitters and went on an 11-3 run to slice the lead to 19-6 with 56 seconds left in the game. A short jumper by Knippen with less than 30 seconds left in the half gave the Big Green a 21-16 lead going into halftime.
Hopewell-Loudon’s Makayla Elmore scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468,