ELIDA — The regular-season matchup was a battle.
In Thursday’s rematch between Ottawa-Glandorf and Liberty-Benton, the start was different, but the result was the same.
Thursday night, Ottawa-Glandorf got the early lead, then staved off Liberty-Benton in the second half for a hard-fought 46-40 victory in a Division III girls district semifinal at the Elida Fieldhouse.
In the regular season, Ottawa-Glandorf got down early and then came back to defeat Liberty-Benton, 40-35.
With Thursday’s win, Ottawa-Glandorf (22-2) will face Fairview (21-3) Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Elida Fieldhouse for a district title.
In Thursday’s second district semifinal, Fairview held off Delphos Jefferson (20-5) for a 36-32 victory.
Kelsey Erford led the No. 1 seeded Ottawa-Glandorf squad with 17 points and five steals. Erin Kaufman, who got whistled for two early fouls, had 12 points and three rebounds.
“We sat her (Kaufman) for a significant amount in the first half with two fouls,” Ottawa-Glandorf head coach Troy Yant said. “Our girls did a good job of taking the lead and holding on to it. With the flow of the game, every time they (L-B) got up a point, we came right back and claimed the lead on the following possession – whether our starters were in, or whoever was in there. We talked about resiliency. … I thought the girls did a good job.”
Lauren Gerken, a 5-foot-11 freshman, led Liberty-Benton (19-5) with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.
After a slow start, Ottawa-Glandorf eventually pulled out to an 11-3 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Anna Siefker (six points on two 3-pointers) had a 3-pointer to jump-start the Titans.
O-G took full advantage of six first-quarter turnovers by L-B.
The Eagles struggled at the offensive end, missing all five shot attempts from the floor.
The Titans were 4 of 9 from the field in the first eight minutes.
However, the Eagles clawed their way back into it.
With 1:05 left to play in the first half, Gerken scored down low to cut the deficit to 2, 16-14.
The Eagles weren’t done.
With 15 seconds left in the half, Gerken hit two free throws to knot the game at 16.
But O-G wasn’t going to be outdone.
With time winding down, Lily Haselman (three points) hit a 3-pointer to give the Titans a 19-16 lead at the break.
“I think the three we hit going into the half was huge. It kind of changed the momentum,” Yant said in reference to Haselman’s trey.
Gerken led L-B in the first half with nine points.
Erford led the Titans with nine points and four steals.
O-G was 7 of 18 from the field in the first half. L-B was 5 of 12 in the first 16 minutes.
L-B came out strong in the second half.
At the 6:28 mark of the third quarter, Gerken scored inside and was fouled. Gerken made the free throw to cut it to 1, 23-22.
Moments later, Gerken converted another old-fashion 3-point play to tie the contest at 25.
Then, with a little more than four minutes left in the third, Gerken gave her team a 28-27 lead on a 3-pointer.
But O-G had a response of its own.
The Titans battled back and slipped out with a 34-31 lead at the end of three quarters. Siefker nailed a 3-pointer right at the buzzer to reclaim the lead for the Titans.
Both teams shot well in the third stanza.
O-G was 7 of 10 from the field, while L-B was 5 of 8 from the floor.
Despite L-B shooting 7 of 8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, O-G held off the Eagles for the win.
“Defensively, I thought our girls were locked in,” Yant said. “They showed some resiliency to stay with it there at the end, and do the things we needed to do.”
For the game, O-G shot 51 percent from the field. L-B shot 41 percent on its field goal attempts.
Both teams committed 12 turnovers on the night.
The Titans held the slight edge on the boards, 21-20.
“It was two good teams,” Liberty-Benton head coach Nate Irwin said. “They got the upper hand during the regular season; and they did it again tonight. It’s not the outcome we wanted, but I’m proud at the way the girls battled.
“The first game, we had a big lead and lost it. Tonight, we got down big, and got back into it. But we ran out of gas. We did well in the second and third quarters to make a run. That says a lot about our kids,” Irwin said.
Yant remarked on the growth of his team.
“We look out on the floor and we can just see the confidence going up and down. We’re glad to be where we’re at. … We’re still playing. But it would be nice for the confidence level for all of those girls to grow here in the next couple of days, so we can play our best game,” he said.
Yant felt like the early lead made a difference for his squad.
“That was something we talked about before the game. They know we can come back,” Yant said. “It (early lead) gave us the chance to breathe. It gave us a chance to get from Point A to Point B without Erin (Kaufman) on the floor (because of early foul trouble).”
Delphos Jefferson 32
Fairview slipped out with a 17-13 lead by the halftime break.
Delphos Jefferson battled back in the second half and made it close, but fell to the Apaches by four points.
Alycia Lindeman led Jefferson with 10 points and seven boards. Josie McGue added eight points for the Wildcats.
Kiersten Cline led Fairview with 10 points.
Jefferson struggled at the offensive end, as it shot just 23 percent from the field.
The Apaches shot 33 percent from the floor.
Jefferson outrebounded Fairview, 38-32.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.