KALIDA — Many times, a game will come down to the number of possessions.
That proved to be the difference in Friday’s key Putnam County League boys basketball showdown between Kalida and Ottoville.
Ottoville claimed the lead in the first quarter, and then held off a pesky Kalida squad down the stretch for a hard-fought 43-36 victory at Richard L. Kortokrax Court.
Ottoville came into Friday’s contest ranked No. 4 in Division IV.
William Miller led Ottoville (14-2, 5-0 PCL) with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Ryan Suever had 10 points. Josh Thorbahn – a University of Findlay commit – had nine points, eight rebounds and three assists.
“Will (William) Miller played a great game,” Ottoville head coach Keith Utendorf said. “Ryan Suever did a lot of really good things, too. We had some great contributions. Grant Kortokrax (seven points) was awesome tonight with extra-effort plays, and with the 50/50 balls to get extra possessions for us. … That was huge.
“We talked about that (extra possessions) as the No. 1 key for tonight. We wanted to limit them, and make sure we got some of our own. He (Kortokrax) came off the bench and gave us great energy. I thought that really sparked us in the first half, and helped us jump out to that lead,” said Utendorf.
Brandon Miller led Kalida (12-4, 3-2 PCL) and all scorers with 18 points on 8 of 11 shooting from the field. Miller also pulled down five rebounds.
Kalida standout Luke Erhart was held to four points and three rebounds on the night.
“Josh (Thorbahn) did a great job of nullifying him (Erhart),” Utendorf said. “We had guys engaged. Our guards did a great job of keeping the ball in front of them. We really thought, collectively, that this was as good as we have played, defensively, for a while.”
The lead changed hands twice in the first quarter before Ottoville pulled away for a 12-4 lead by the first stop.
Miller poured in nine first-quarter points for Ottoville, on three 3-pointers.
Kalida struggled in the first stanza as it connected on just 1 of 9 shots from the field.
Ottoville went into the locker room at the halftime break with a 28-15 lead.
William Miller ended the first half with 12 points, on four shots behind the 3-point line.
Brandon Miller led Kalida at the break with 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field.
Ottoville was 9 of 21 from the floor in the first half, for 43-percent shooting.
The Big Green led 37-21 at the end of the third quarter.
But here came Kalida.
With 5:09 left to play in the contest, Kalida’s Jayce Horstman hit a field goal from the left corner to cut it to 11, 37-26.
Moments later, Ayden Warnecke (3 points, 7 boards) was fouled on an inside move to the basket. Warnecke then made two free throws to cut the deficit to 9, 37-28.
With 3:37 left to play, Brandon Miller scored off a fast break to pull the Wildcats within 7, 37-30.
Then, with 2:25 left to play, Erhart made two free throws to cut the Ottoville lead to 6, 38-32.
Kalida kept coming.
With 1:26 left to play, Vorst scored down low to cut it to 4, 38-34.
However, the Big Green managed to hold off the Wildcats in the final minute to secure the victory.
“They (Kalida) are so good, defensively,” Utendorf said. “Both groups know the tendencies, so well. So, it’s going to come down to those possessions. We knew they were going to make a run in the second half – great teams do; and that’s a great team over there.”
For the game, Ottoville shot 38 percent from the field. Kalida connected on 37 percent of its field goal attempts.
Both teams took care of the basketball.
Ottoville committed eight turnovers, while Kalida turned it over seven times on the night.
Ottoville held the slight edge on the boards, 27-26.
“I’m proud of our guys for being able to execute at the end and do enough to get out of here with a win,” Utendorf said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.