OTTAWA – For the last four years, Ottawa-Glandorf has beaten Lima Central Catholic in this storied rivalry and in the past two seasons the Titans have won by double digits.
But the Thunderbirds ended that losing streak with a thrilling 69-65 victory over the Titans Saturday night.
With the win, LCC improves to 3-2 on the year and O-G suffers its first loss of the year and fall to 3-1 for the year.
LCC head coach Frank Kill said this was a total team effort and it was even more impressive considering that at times the Thunderbirds had freshmen coming up big in a variety of ways, along with the upperclassmen
“Anytime you come over to Ottawa and get a win it is a huge win because they don’t lose on their home court,” Kill said. “After watching them on film I thought we could play with them but getting our guys to believe they could play with them after our Shawnee loss and Crestview loss we had to ask where are we at. We are still looking for an identity and we found some chemistry tonight and playing three freshmen tonight really woke us up. It shows the winning mentality they bring to our team.
“I thought it was a total team effort from our bench to our starters. We definitely came into tonight feeling we were the underdogs and we took that upon us and we built on it.”
Junior Evan Unruh led LCC with 20 points and freshman DeMar Foster contributed 19 points. Rossy Moore pumped in 16 points.
Coming off the bench and giving LCC some valuable minutes was freshman Billy Bourk who scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds and hit some clutch free throws down the stretch. He also played hard battling the Titans’ top talent inside the paint for rebounds all night.
“I really thought our energy came from our defense tonight,” Kill said. “
Titan head coach Tyson McGlaughlin said his team never got into a flow in the game.
“We really struggled in a lot of areas of the game and you have to give them credit,” McGlaughlin said. “They dictated the action from the opening tip and they got off to a good start and we dug ourselves a hole that we really struggled to get out of and then we got in a little bit of a rhythm and took the lead and then we turn the ball over two or three times and they-capitalized.
“They played extremely well and forced us into uncomfortable situations and some times you have nights like that and LCC deserved to win.”
From the opening tip off LCC looked to reverse their fortunes against the Titans when they scored the first 11 points of the game to grab the early momentum.
That Thunderbird remained ahead by double digits early into the second quarter and owned a 20-7 lead at the 6:33 mark of the second quarter. But a good team like the Titans finally began to find their shooting touch and we went on a 16-2 run to grab the 23-22 lead with 1:36 remaining in the first half.
LCC regrouped down the final 90 seconds to score the last seven points of the half to secure a 29-23 lead going into the locker room at halftime.,
Both teams battled evenly in the third quarter and going into the final eight minutes, LCC was clinging to a 44-43 lead.
Big buckets from Unruh, Billy Bourk and Bryan Hines gave the Thunderbirds a 53-48 lead with 4:49 left in the game.
Down the stretch, LCC did not fold under the O-G pressure and made key free throws and turnovers down the stretch to come away with the win.
“We took pride in winning 50-50 balls tonight,” Kill said. “I thought took away opportunities from Ottawa-Glandorf and they do such a great job attacking the glass offensively and I thought we did a great job of boxing out and that was our focus tonight was to stopping them and eliminating them to one possession.”
O-G’s Brennen Blevens led the Titans with 17 points, however, he struggled from behind the 3-point arc tonight and hit only 2 of 16 from treyland. Carson Fuka chipped in 15 points and Owen Nichols added 11. However, Nichols failed to score in the fourth quarter and fouled in the final minutes of the game that also hampered O-G’s efforts down the stretch.
McGlaughlin said he will use this game to motivate his team.
“I think it opens our eyes,” the Titan coach said. “We had three pretty easy games and had comfortable wins and we hadn’t faced adversity and we played a good team tonight and our backs were against the wall and we didn’t fight the way we needed to and that is not O-G basketball that was displayed tonight and we will get better.”