LEXINGTON — Four points short from the final four.
Despite a stellar defensive outing by Ottawa-Glandorf, the Titans could not overcome Africentric’s size and quick hands and fell to the Nubians 38-34 in the District III regional final Saturday.
With the win, the two-time defending state champion Nubians advance to Columbus to face Anna in the state semifinals at 3 p.m. Friday.
Ottawa-Glandorf ends its season at 25-2.
“We knew it was going to be a fight now,” Africentric head coach William McKinney said. “The thing about us is we don’t get wrapped up in the hype. We know these teams are well coached and they are a good team so every time we come in we prepare for a fight. When you get to the regionals everybody is good.”
Ottawa-Glandorf’s offensive approach in hopes of both dictating the tempo and trying to open up the offense was to spread the floor and patiently look for scoring opportunities inside in hopes of avoiding Nubian’s 6-foot-4 center Sekima Walker in the paint.
“Obviously when you are out-sized at every position we tried to space them as best we could,” Titan head coach Troy Yant said. “At times it worked and other times we got stagnant and obviously you saw how tired the girls were. It was a great defensive effort by us to hold them to the points they scored. The little things added up.”
For the most part the Titans were successful in both keeping the score close but at the same time the Nubian’s quickness and ability to block shots inside proved too much for the Titans to overcome.
The Nubian’s swatted nine Titan shots on the night and disrupted numerous other shots when Ottawa-Glandorf attacked the middle or even when they tried to score from the outside.
Also hampering the Titans’ offense was their inability to convert points from the outside the 3-point arc as they went 1 for 10 from treyland.
For the game, the Titans shot 31 percent from the field.
For Africentric, Alexia Smith led all scorers with 14 points. The Nubians shot 38.5 percent from the field.
“We would have preferred to get out in transition and score more buckets,” McKinney said. “But we was prepared to play defense for a minute or two minutes in the half court. That is what what practiced and I thought we did a great job of that. We didn’t become impatient on the defensive end and then at the same time don’t be too anxious.”
Titan Kelsey Erford scored 11 points and Brianna Schimmoeller finished with 10 points.
“Brianna (Schimmoeller) missed a couple of shots that hung on the rim and if they go in we might be into overtime and Kelsey played a great game getting to the rack and doing some stuff and when we got there we didn’t get many fouls,” Yant said. “They laid us out. They put us on the floor. They blocked our shots.”
The Nubian’s quickness shined in the fourth quarter. Going into the final eight minutes, Africentric owned a 27-23 lead and the Titans closed two within two points when Chloee Glenn hit a layup.
However, Africentric responded with a quick 8-2 run in the highly contested defensive battle that pushed the lead to 35-27 with five minutes remaining in the game to give the Nubians some breathing room. In the run the Titans turned the ball over four times.
The Titans gave it one last push when Erford popped a trey and it was followed by a bucket by Erin Kaufmann to cut the lead to 35-32 with 57 second ticks left on the clock but Africentric hit just enough free throws to put the game away.
“We were unable to recover,” Yant said. “We dug ourselves in a hole at the end of the fourth quarter and it made it difficult for us to survive through the fourth quarter and whenever we got close they did just enough to stretch that lead and enough to hold us back. We tried everything that we had.”
The goal of making state came up short but Yant said this team had numerous questions marks and many thought they would end up .500 this year. Instead the Titans produced another impressive season including a Western Buckeye League title and another trip to regionals.
“There was a little doubt in our minds if we could replicate the success that we had so we put a lot of pressure on Brianna Schimmoeller and Kelsey Erford to kind of lead and they did a great job,” Yant said. “To win 25 games this season, not too many programs Ohio (can say that). If we would have won this game that we are an elite program to make it to state five times and six years….I can’t be more happy with the girls.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.