VAN WERT – After an early-season loss to Lima Central Catholic, Fort Jennings girls basketball head coach Sean O’Connor knew what adjustments he had to make.
In Wednesday’s Division IV sectional semifinal matchup against Lima Central Catholic, Fort Jennings’ adjustments seemed to pay off as the Musketeers led from start to finish, en route to a convincing 45-29 victory over Lima Central Catholic in the first of two Division IV girls basketball sectional semifinals at Van Wert High School.
With the win, Fort Jennings (4-19) will face No. 2 seed Kalida (16-6) in a sectional final Saturday at Van Wert with tip-off set for 6 p.m.
In Wednesday’s second sectional semifinal, Ottoville (12-11) held off Miller City (11-12), 45-39. With the win, Ottoville will face No. 4 seed Cory-Rawson (15-7) Saturday in a sectional final at Van Wert. Tip-off will follow the conclusion of the first sectional final, which tips off at 6 p.m.
In the first sectional semifinal, Rachel Von Sossan led Fort Jennings and all scorers with 23 points, including five 3-pointers. Von Sossan also came away with seven rebounds. Teammate Maggie Pothast scored 17 points and pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds for the Musketeers.
Olivia Stolly led Lima Central Catholic (7-16) with 13 points, including 7 of 9 shooting from the free throw line. Stolly also came away with seven boards and four steals.
“We scouted them, and we knew what their strengths were. And we took that away,” O’Connor said. “I knew Stolly was a heck of a player. She wants to drive. … We collapsed on that. No. 22 (Kiegh Macklin, seven points), wants to go to her right. And (Bridget) Mulcahy (five points) wants to pull up and shoot. We’ve been pounding that in their heads for the last three days of practice. We just wanted to take away their strengths.
“I told the girls to break their spirits, early. We wanted to handle the boards. We wanted to execute on offense. We wanted to communicate on defense. That pretty much were the goals, tonight. And I felt like we did all that,” O’Connor said.
Fort Jennings jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. Von Sossan scored five of the Musketeers’ seven points. However, LCC battled back and cut the deficit to three points, 7-4, by the end of the first quarter.
That was the smallest lead Fort Jennings had the rest of the way.
By the halftime break, Fort Jennings led 20-10.
Both teams really struggled at the offensive end in the second quarter.
LCC was just 1 of 12 shooting from the field, while Fort Jennings was 5 of 20 from the floor in the second stanza. For the half, the Thunderbirds were 3 of 21 for just 14-percent shooting. The Musketeers were 8 of 31 for 26-percent shooting.
For the game, Fort Jennings shot 27 percent from the floor. LCC ended the night, shooting 21 percent.
Von Sossan led Fort Jennings and all scorers with 11 first-half points, including three 3-pointers.
By the end of the third quarter, Fort Jennings led 33-20.
Pothast scored nine points in the third.
“She (Pothast) can shoot,” O’Connor said. “She has the green light from wherever she wants to shoot it. As long as it goes in, that’s all we’re happy about. (Having) confidence is the biggest thing. We had confidence, coming into this game. We felt like we let one go earlier in the season. But that was the second game of the season. We’ve come a long way since then.”
LCC turned the ball over 11 times on the night, while Fort Jennings committed 20 turnovers.
The Musketeers controlled the boards, 36-26.
“The goal was to work inside/out,” O’Connor said. “We knew they (LCC on defense) would start collapsing in the paint. I told them to fly to the corners (for the outside shot).”
The Musketeers have a big challenge ahead of them in Saturday’s sectional final against Kalida.
“We know Kalida very well,” O’Connor said. “We will enjoy this (win) tonight, then get back to work tomorrow. Kalida is a really good team. We just have to play to our strengths and see what happens.”
Ottoville 45, Miller City 39
Ottoville jumped out to a 17-6 lead over Miller City by the end of the first quarter in Wednesday’s second Division IV sectional semifinal at Van Wert.
However, Miller City bounced back and claimed a 23-21 lead by the halftime break.
Miller City led 33-28 by the third stop.
However, in the final eight minutes, Ottoville outscored Miller City 17-6 to register the victory.
Erica Thorbahn led Ottoville with 18 points, including three 3-pointers. Isabelle Furley added nine points for the Big Green.
Jordan Schnipke led Miller City with 16 points.