ELIDA — Kalida’s Luke Erhart missed quite a bit of the second half with foul trouble.
But when the game was teetering in the balance, he came up with big plays at both ends.
Erhart had a basket, two foul shots and a huge block in the final minute-plus to power Kalida to a 44-40 victory over Ottoville in a Division IV boys basketball district semifinal Tuesday night at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Kalida (18-7) advances to the district championship game against Columbus Grove at 7 p.m. Friday at Elida.
Ottoville, which had won 15 in a row, ends its season 20-4.
Erhart finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
“We’re big rivals,” Erhart said. “Any time you get a win against the Big Green it feels good.’’
The game was tied at 38 with 1:29 to go.
Kalida spread the floor in the halfcourt, handed it off to Erhart and he drove the right baseball for a layup.
That gave Kalida the lead to stay 40-38 with 1:12 go.
Erhart sank one of two free throws with 49 seconds left to give Kalida 41-38 lead.
Ottoville’s Joseph Miller scored on a driving layup to get the Big Green within 41-40.
Erhart again sank one of two free throws to make it 42-40 with 30 seconds to go.
Ottoville’s Josh Thorbahn then drove through the heart of the lane and laid up a 6-footer, which was blocked by Erhart.
“Josh is a really good player,” Erhart said. “I know he wanted the ball in his hands and I know he wanted a shot. I know he wanted the shot and I kind of trailed him (helping off his man) and I was able to flip it away.’’
Ayden Warnecke made one of two free throws to give Kalida 43-40 lead with 14 second left.
Ottoville then turned the ball over and Warnecke was fouled.
When Warnecke hit his second of two foul shots off the double bonus to clinch the 44-40 win with 4.1 seconds left.
Gabe Hovest had 10 points and six rebounds for Kalida.
Evan Roebke had seven points and did a nice job, defensively, on Thorbahn.
“Evan used his body and did a great job tonight,” Kalida coach Ryan Stechschulte said.
Thorbahn led the Big Green with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Ryan Suever had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Joseph Miller had 12 points, seven rebounds and hit three 3-pointers for Ottoville.
Stechschulte said his team was used to not having its top players on the floor after playing through a number of key injuries during the year, including Erhart.
“We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity,” Stechschulte said. “These kids have battled through it. During a timeout in the second half when Luke got his fourth foul (with 6:35 to go), I said, ‘Guys, we’ve been through this before. We have to hang our hat on playing good defense, hanging in there and give ourselves a chance at the end.’ ’’
Ottoville won the boards, 36-28.
Kalida shot 52 percent from the field and was 3 of 9 on 3-pointers. But Kalida struggled at the foul line (9 of 23).
Ottoville shot only 29 percent from the field and was 3 of 22 on 3-pointers.
Ottoville was 11 of 19 at the line.
Both teams had 10 turnovers.
Kalida led 10-8 after the first quarter, but the game picked up considerably in the second quarter.
Kalida wound up its rebound and run game.
The Wildcats ripped off an 8-0 run to pull out to an 18-8 lead with 5:22 left before halftime.
Warnecke had one fastbreak for a layup and Hovest had two.
“We talked about taking advantage of transition opportunities,” Stechschulte said. “The only way we could do that was with clean rebounds.’’
When Erhart drained a 3-pointer from the left wing, the Kalida lead grew to 21-8 with 4:17 left in the second.
Ottoville then went to a man press, got a few quick turnovers and got within 23-14 of Kalida at the half.
Erhart went to the bench at the 6:39 mark of the third with his third foul and Kalida was able to chip into the lead.
Suever scored nine points in the third quarter, as he began finding driving lanes to the basket.
When Erhart re-entered the game with 2:45 left in the third, Kalida’s lead was down to 26-21.
Kalida led 29-26 heading into the final quarter.
The game became a parade to the foul line in the fourth quarter, with both teams in the double bonus.
Part of that was both teams knowing each other’s players so well.
On Jan. 31, Ottoville defeated Kalida 51-35.
“There are no secrets,” Stechschulte said. “It was line it up and see what happens.’’
Added Erhart, “We’re all close friends. (Ottoville’s) Ryan (Suever), (Ottoville’s) Josh (Thorbahn) and I played on the same AAU team for five, six years, so we’re close buddies. It’s fun to go out and battle with them.’’
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.