OTTAWA — One step more. That’s what Ottawa-Glandorf is looking for when it competes in the boys state basketball tournament for the third consecutive year.
Four of this year’s Titans starters — Colin White, Theo Maag, Hunter Stechschulte and Caden Erford — played a year ago when O-G beat Columbus Africentric 53-48 in the Division III state semifinal and lost 48-45 to Cincinnati Taft in the championship game. In 2021, White started, Maag played and Stechschulte dressed in a state semifinal against Cleveland Lutheran East.
Ottawa-Glandorf will play Africentric again this year in a Division III state semifinal at 10:45 a.m. Saturday at the University of Dayton Arena.
It has a familiar feel but it also is different than the last two years.
“I think all state tournaments feel the same because you always dream about going to the state tournament. This year we’re more determined because we came up a little short and this year we’re trying to win it all,” Maag said.
White, a junior, is in his third year as a starter. Maag, a senior, is a two-year starter. Stechschulte, a senior, and Erford, a junior, are first-year starters who averaged 14 minutes and 7 minutes of playing time in last year’s state games. The Titans’ fifth starter, Grant Schroeder, a junior, is also a first-year starter.
Stechschulte said, “We’re looking to try to put ourselves out there and try to win the whole thing this year. We didn’t get that goal the last two years but we have worked really hard and really want that goal.”
Getting back to Dayton this season was a goal the Titans began to work toward not long after the end of last season.
“It was a pretty quick turnaround. It wasn’t the next day. We took a couple days off. But we went at it pretty soon,” White said about a quick transition to AAU games he and Maag made last spring.
Erford said, “We took a couple days off but there was a select group of guys who were on that court who felt what it was like to lose and once they felt that, they knew that they didn’t want to lose again. It was a week off, a couple days off, but we were back to it pretty quick.”
White says he has adjusted to the amount of attention defenses have paid to him since he emerged as an NCAA Division I prospect last season. Maag says he has improved his offense since last year.
“I get a little more attention on the offensive end from other teams so it’s about finding ways to combat that aggressiveness toward me, going to the bucket strong and improving my outside shot,” White said.
Maag said, “Last year I was a defensive guy but this year I’ve tried to improve my offense and I think it has worked out pretty well.”
Maybe the biggest changes in roles have been by Erford and Stechschulte. Erford went from a back-up role last season to being the No. 2 scorer behind White at 13.9 points a game. And Stechschulte moved to point guard, a position he hadn’t played since eighth grade.
“It was just a lot of offseason work,” Erford said of the change in his role. “I kind of got a taste of it last year, being on the team and playing a couple minutes. Once you get that taste, you just want more of it. I think that’s what drove me.”
Stechschulte said, “We knew we were losing Carter Schimmoeller and Carson Fuka, who were our point guards last year and needed someone to step up and take that leadership role. It was a little bit hard getting used to, but once I got used to it I think we flowed a lot better.”
Ottawa-Glandorf will take a 14-game winning streak into Saturday’s game. Its last loss was 52-48 on Jan. 14 to Lima Senior, a game which the Titans say might have been a turning point in their season.
“After that last game that we lost we were like, ‘We don’t like this feeling. We want to keep winning.’ We worked hard even more at practice and just tried to do everything we could to win,” Stechschulte said.
White said, “We were more determined after that loss. We really took that one to heart and came into practice and worked every day. Luckily, we’ve been able to win 14 in a row, which is great. We’re really playing our best ball right now.”