On the same floor where their season ended in heart-breaking fashion against the same team last season, Ottawa-Glandorf finished strong in its 40-30 win over Liberty-Benton in a Division III girls basketball district semifinal on Thursday night at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Kelsey Erford scored 14 points and Brianna Schimmoeller had 11 points to lead O-G (23-1) over Liberty-Benton (20-4).
Erford and Schimmoeller were starters on last year’s Ottawa-Glandorf team, whose season ended in a triple overtime loss in the district championship game.
And when a big early lead dissolved into a tie game early in the fourth quarter this year, they stepped forward and combined to score 12 unanswered points to end any chance Liberty-Benton had of winning.
“Last year when we played them in the district finals it left a very bitter taste on our tongues. Being the main two who were in that game and also in this game we didn’t want to feel that again,” Erford said. “We knew if it was going to happen we were going to have to step up and start doing something.”
The Titans will play Fairview for the Elida district championship at 2 p.m. Saturday. Fairview beat Paulding 53-48 in the second game at Elida on Thursday night.
Ottawa-Glandorf jumped out to a 17-6 lead in the first minute of the second quarter. But over the next 16 minutes, O-G hit just one field goal and scored only seven points.
When the Titans’ offense went cold, Liberty-Benton gradually got closer and closer. Ottawa-Glandorf led 19-10 at halftime and 24-19 after three quarters. Finally, the Eagles tied the game at 24-24 on a 3-pointer by Sydney Elseser with 7:06 to play.
“We obviously went pretty tight there,” Ottawa-Glandorf coach Troy Yant said. “I think part of that was getting in to the rim all the time and getting blocked (by L-B’s 6-foot, 3-inch Caitlin Elseser) and not getting a foul called and we got really tentative about how we were going to score.
“I thought when they came close and tied it up I thought our girls did a wonderful job of maintaining their composure and putting points on the board, especially at the free throw line,” he said.
By the time Ottawa-Glandorf’s 12-0 run was over, it led 36-24 with two minutes to play. Erford, Schimmoeller and Erin Kaufman scored the Titans’ final 16 points, including hitting four of their final six field goal attempts and going 8 for 8 at the free throw line.
“We got a little nervous for a second. We just talked about keeping our composure and playing the game we knew how to play and keep on controlling the tempo of the game,” Schimmoeller said.
“We really wanted that game. We knew we were going to have to push ourselves harder than we did before and just get after it. Everybody did a good job of filling their roles.”
She called Liberty-Benton pulling into a tie in the fourth quarter “a flashback of what happened last year.”
“None of us wanted that to happen again so we knew we had to start moving,” she said.
If the Titans finished with a little extra motivation, they also might have started the game with an added incentive.
O-G was the No. 1 seed in the Elida district and Liberty-Benton was No. 2. Even though the Titans had won a regular-season game between the two teams by 15 points, Liberty-Benton went against tradition and placed itself in the same half of the bracket as O-G.
“We used it as a factor. They obviously wanted us, so they got us,” Yant said. “We wanted to make sure we took care of business. When a team does that you’re kind of put on alert that they obviously want you. We never really talked about it until pre-game It was part of the pre-game speech.”
It appears to have worked. “That was a lot of our pre-game motivation. They chose to play us so we were going to show them that wasn’t the right decision,” Schimmoeller said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.