FINDLAY — It wasn’t new but it was better.
Liberty-Benton girls basketball coach Nate Irwin saluted Ottawa-Glandorf’s defense in its 36-21 win over the Eagles on Saturday after it locked down his team’s offense and its top scorer, 6-foot, 3-inch University of Cincinnati recruit Caitlin Elseser.
O-G led the entire game, allowed only five points in the first half and limited Elseser to one field goal and seven points, 14 points below her season average.
“They knew what our strength was and they did a very good job inside of guarding Caitlin and making things tough for us,” Liberty-Benton coach Nate Irwin said. “They’re not the first team to guard us that way but they’re the best team to guard us that way.
“They had a great game plan. We’ve played them a lot over the years and when you think of Ottawa-Glandorf the first thing that comes to mind is their defensive pressure. They’ve done it for years, they’ve done it well for years and they did it again today,” he said.
Brianna Schimmoeller scored 11 points to lead Ottawa-Glandorf (18-1), which came into the game ranked No. 9 in state, one place behind Liberty-Benton (14-3). Erin Kaufman scored nine points and had the defensive assignment of getting in front of Elseser and keeping the ball away from her. Kelsey Erford scored eight points.
Liberty-Benton had one field goal in the game’s first 17 ½ minutes and only five in the entire game. Elseser finished with one field goal and did not attempt a shot until 14 minutes into the game.
Ottawa-Glandorf coach Troy Yant said, “Obviously, most of their offense goes through Cait. I thought Erin (Kaufman) did an excellent job. We had great backside help. The girls were really keyed in. It was a great scouting report by Coach Scott Maag and Coach (Thomas) Williams. The girls did everything we asked them to do and they did a great job.
“Not only did we play great defense, we were very patient on offense. We held the ball for long periods of time and then finished with an exclamation point. I thought that was equally impressive,” he said.
Ottawa-Glandorf and Liberty-Benton played two instant classic games last season, but Yant said that was probably not a factor in Saturday’s game.
L-B won by two points in a regular-season game a year ago, then won in triple overtime in a district championship game match-up between two one-loss teams.
“We didn’t talk about it. It’s L-B so it’s always a good game. With voting for the tournament tomorrow and us and them probably being the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds whoever won this game was going to get that draw. That was probably the only real motivation,” Yant said. “I think the girls just wanted to play well.”
Irwin said, “Maybe we’ll get a chance to play them down the road in the tournament. I just hope our girls bounce back.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.