OTTOVILLE — Early on, each time Miller City made a run, Ottoville had an answer.
In the second half of Friday’s Putnam County League boys basketball matchup, Ottoville made a few more runs than Miller City to pull away for a 57-42 victory at L.W. Heckman Gymnasium.
With the win, Ottoville improves to 10-3 overall and 2-1 in the PCL. Miller City slips to 8-5 overall and 2-2 in league play.
Josh Thorbahn led Ottoville with 16 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three assists. Ryan Suever, who is coming back from a knee injury, came off the bench and scored 13 points, 11 of those coming in the first half. Trae Schlagbaum came off the bench and scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers. William Miller added nine points with two 3-pointers for the Big Green.
“We knew they (Miller City) were going to change defenses,” Ottoville coach Keith Utendorf said. “We thought we were going to see some junk, and we did. We saw a triangle-and-two. We saw a box-and-one. And we saw a 3-2. We saw a lot of things tonight, and I thought our guys adjusted – maybe not always right away, but in the second, third and fourth (quarters), we started to take advantage of those things. … Credit to our guys for figuring that out and playing through those changes, and getting some good possessions at the end.”
Austin Ruhe led Miller City and all scorers with 18 points. Ruhe also had five rebounds and four steals from his guard spot. Teammate Ross Niese added 11 points with three 3-pointers.
In a closely-contested first quarter, the score was knotted three times before Ottoville slipped out with a 16-13 lead by the first stop.
Thorbahn led the way for Ottoville with 10 first-quarter points, including two 3-pointers. Ruhe and Niese scored seven and six points, respectively for Miller City in the first eight minutes. Niese knocked down two 3-pointers.
Miller City kept it close in the second quarter.
But Ottoville started to heat up.
After Miller City cut the deficit to 1, 20-19, Ottoville went on a 12-0 run to close out the first half. Suever hit a 3-pointer and three field goals to ignite the Big Green, as his team went into the locker room with a 32-19 halftime advantage.
Utendorf was especially pleased with the performance of Suever.
“It’s a credit to him. For him, I thought it was a big mental game to get over that hurdle,” Utendorf said. “He came out, ready to go. He made some really good
plays for us, when he first came in; and then we carried that (momentum) throughout the game.
“We’re trying to ease him back in. He’s wanting more and more (playing time), which is a good thing. He’s starting to get incorporated into some things. I feel so good for him, to be able to come back and play.”
Miller City was just 2 of 10 shooting from the floor in the second quarter. The Wildcats ended the first half 7 of 22 from the floor. Ottoville was 13 of 30 from
the floor in the first half. Thorbahn led the way for the Big Green with 12 first-half points.
“I wish halftime wouldn’t have come, because we thought we had our pace exactly where we wanted, and we did have them sort of out of control,” Utendorf said. “… That’s us. We play at that pace. We try to get teams to play at that pace.
I thought in the second half – with what they were doing – it kind of made it a little more of a thinking game for us.”
Miller City came out of the locker room and scored the first four points of the third quarter. However, Ottoville came roaring back.
William Miller hit two 3-pointers to jump-start the Big Green.
Despite 7 of 14 shooting for Miller City in the third stanza, Ottoville led 48-34 by the third stop.
For the game, Ottoville shot 38 percent from the field. Miller City countered with 33-percent shooting from the floor.
“We’ve had some times throughout the season, where we shoot really well for a short period, and then we can get cold,” Miller City coach Ross Kaufman said. “I think the biggest thing for us is that we have to understand, that when we’re hot, keep pushing the pace; and when we’re struggling, we just have to slow it down a little bit.”
Miller City committed 15 turnovers, while Ottoville turned the ball over 10 times on the night.
Ottoville held the slight edge on the boards, 34-31.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.