LIMA – Coldwater had already beaten one giant in previously unbeaten Archbold (23-1), which topped the Associated Press Division III state poll title, 35-34 Thursday night at Lima Senior.
The Cavaliers had another chance to knock off another highly ranked squad in seventh-ranked and second-seeded Ottawa-Glandorf on Saturday afternoon again at Lima Senior.
The Cavaliers did the trick by downing 12 3-pointers on their way to clinch the Division III district title with a 70-67 triumph.
The Cavaliers (17-9) advance to play Willard, a 60-36 winner against Upper Sandusky, at 8 p.m. Thursday at Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center.
“We took some lumps early in the season due to a late start from football but we’ve been playing very well the last four weeks. We beat Marion Local and Wapakoneta during a double weekend toward the end of the regular season and that got us going,” Coldwater head coach Nick Fisher said. “These guys are very resilient; they proved it all season and they did it again today. The little things that we had to improve upon, like defense, we steadily got better at. It was frustrating but these guys kept working at it. When I started here three years ago, our goal was to get to the regionals and these guys have done that.”
The Cavaliers used solid shooting to do the trick – hitting 23-of-47 shots from the floor for 48.9 percent. They were even better from 3-point land, landing 12-of-24. Cole Frilling led the way with 23 points and 10 rebounds, along with 18 points from Marcus Bruns and 15 from Jacob Wenning.
The Titans countered with 23-of-55 shooting for 41.9 percent, including 6-of-19 from beyond the arc. Owen Hiegel led the effort with 18 points and Carter Heringhaus and Aaron Rieman added 12 each.
“It was a great high school basketball game. We made some plays; they just made more than we did,” O-G head coach Tyson McLaughlin said. “They had an answer for everything we did. You can always second-guess things — if we could have made that one shot or gotten that one rebound — but we played hard and played well. So did Coldwater; they made one more play than we did. We didn’t expect them to hit 12 3-pointers today; give them credit.”
The game was tight from the start. Each team had its moments and both were looking to push the tempo, with O-G trying to apply full-court pressure and forcing 15 turnovers. Frilling started out well with seven points in the opening period, while the Titans had six players score at least two points in the stanza. When Braden Fortman buried a 3-pointer from the left wing with two seconds on the clock, O-G held a 16-14 advantage.
Frilling picked up his second foul at the 2:39 mark of the first period.
The game tightened even more in the second period with five lead changes and four ties. The largest lead by either team was three points, with both teams having a turn. The Titans tallied the final four points of the half, capped by a pair of foul shots from Rieman at 2.5 seconds, to make it a 32-31 halftime spread for the Titans.
O-G came out strong in the third period and appeared to get a handle on the game, building a 9-point lead twice; the second was 41-32 on a Rieman foul shot. Back came the Cavaliers with a 14-4 run the rest of the period, capped by consecutive 3-pointers by Frilling and Bruns – the second from the left corner with 51 seconds showing on the third-period clock - to make it 46-45, Coldwater, entering the fourth period.
O-G’s last lead was 45-43 on a pair of foul shots by Hiegel at 1:56 of the third period.
“When we got down in the third period, we showed no panic. We’ve been in that situation a few times before and we responded well,” Fisher said. “We knew coming in we had to shoot well to have a chance. We worked our offense very well, getting some easy looks on cuts to the basket. That was one of the reasons we shot so well on 3s because of our ball movement. It helped that we played a very similar team Thursday in Archbold; they run a lot of the same stuff, so we had watched a lot of film in preparation and it carried over to today.”
Despite Frilling picking up his fourth foul at the 7:01 mark of the final period, a pair of free throws by Bruns started the period and Coldwater built up a six-point lead four times, the final one at 63-57 on a free throw at 2:02 by Frilling. Bruns scored nine points in the fourth period, to be matched by the nine points of Heringhaus but O-G could never retake the lead. The Titans were within 68-67 on a 3-pointer from the left wing by Brennan Blevins with 8.5 seconds to go but they were forced to foul. Bruns nailed both foul shots with seven seconds remaining, leaving O-G needing a 3-pointer in hopes of sending the game to overtime. Following O-G’s last timeouts, the Titans quickly advanced the ball with Hiegel trying a long 3-pointer from the right wing with time running out; however, Coldwater’s Ben Wenning got a piece of the ball and the Titans couldn’t get another shot off before time ran out, sending Coldwater to the regionals.
“This team was one of the closest I’ve ever had. I have family on this team; that makes it even tougher to end this way,” McLaughlin said. “I had next-door neighbors on this team. Sometimes, it’s not meant to be. It seems Coldwater might be a team of destiny. I’m so proud of these guys, especially the seniors and what they have meant to this program. Again, sometimes it’s just not meant to be but it wasn’t for lack of effort.”
Ottawa-Glandorf closed its season at 21-4.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.