DAYTON – Throughout the postseason, Ottawa-Glandorf has found ways to win but against Lutheran East, the Titans fell short, 58-52, in the Division III state semi final game Friday night.
The loss ends O-G season with a 20-5 mark. Lutheran East advances to the state title game against Worthington Christian at the University of Dayton Sunday.
“Obviously I am very proud of our guys and I thought they executed to a “T” tonight,” Titan head coach Tyson McGlaughlin said. “They did everything I asked them to within our game plan. They took a couple of gambles but you have to give Lutheran East a lot of credit.
“It was a tall task. No pun intended. They have all kinds of size and athleticism and were outmatched in some areas. I am not ashamed to say that because I mean it in with up most respect to both programs. They found a way to get the job done but I couldn’t be prouder of the men in my locker room because they did things they were taught. They had to beat us. We weren’t going to beat ourselves”
Going into the final eight minutes, the Titans were down 42-37 after a tough third quarter that saw the Falcons garner the momentum to claim the five-point advantage.
But the Titans began its fourth quarter rally and despite having trouble early in the fourth quarter that saw the Titans force four turnovers and come up with no points in the first four minutes, the persistent Titans remained composed and finally began to get the necessary points to cut into the Falcon lead.
And when Blevins hit a reverse layup prayer and was fouled, the Titans, after the O-G senior hit the free throw, were within one 50-49, within just under two minutes left in the game.
But down the stretch, Lutheran East held off the Titans to secure the victory.
“We wanted to keep them on their toes as much as possible,” McGlaughlin said. “Anyone that follows us knows we don’t play much zone as all. We know that was our best chance tonight. We had to mix it up. We went to a 3-2 and a 2-3 and then in the second half we had to man up and play some man. We just tried to keep them off their line as much as possible.
“We thought with the defensive fronts and the different zone looks we could our personnel in areas where they would be more effective.”
Ottawa-Glandorf Brennen Blevins, who finished with a team-high 23 points, was limited eight points in the final two quarters and only two in the pivotal third quarter. Blevins rebounded in fourth quarter to help with the comeback with some big buckets.
Luttheran head coach Sam Leggins said they really didn’t do anything different defensively but thought the Titans’ felt the effects of the constant pressure.
“I think they kind of tired a little bit,” Leggins said. “Anytime you pressure a team full court wears on you no matter how much you prepare for it but credit to them I thought they handled it better than I thought they would.”
Offensively, the Falcons’ outside shooting proved to tip the scales in their favor after Ottawa-Glandorf, using a box and 1 type defense to shut down 6-foot-8 Jalin Billingsley to 10 points. But BJ Busbee, who had 11 points, and Jalen Knott who scored 13 points, combined to go 8 of 14 from behind the 3-point arc.
As a team, Lutheran East was 7 of 14 from treyland.
Titan Owen Nichols finished with ended up with 15 points and admitted he got tired towards the end of the game after having the unenviable task of covering Billingsley in the Titans’ zone defense that was effective for much of the game. Unfortunately for O-G, the Falcons perimeter shooting proved to be too much.
“I would like to say it didn’t (expending energy covering Billingsley) but it sure did there towards the end.,” Nichols said. “
McGlaughlin added that he felt the Falcons’ defense pushed them so far away from the basket that the Titans could not get into an offensive flow.
“Not only their defensive pressure but their physicality kind of wore on us as the game went on,” McGlaughlin said. “We had to use Owen in so many different ways to alleviate some of that pressure and to bring their bigs and bring them into the full court as much as possible and get the match-ups in our favor. This boy (Nichols) is going to sleep well tonight. He did a little of everything for us tonight.”
While the Titans did not come up with the outcome they wanted, McGlaughlin praised his team’s effort and how this squad upheld the proud Titan tradition.
“I told the guys in the locker room and this is my personal opinion that it doesn’t happen everywhere,” McGlaughlin said. “It is a special, special place and we call it our fraternity and anybody that can make four years in this program is special. It is not easy. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of people that want to see you lose and want to see you fail and we always say, ‘embrace the bulls’ eye because that means you are doing something right.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.