DAYTON — Time waits for no one. And Ottawa-Glandorf was glad of that.
The Titans, their coaches and their celebrating fans also were grateful the official time keeper was not tardy in starting the clock on the dramatic final play of their 48-47 double-overtime win over Columbus Africentric in a Division III boys basketball state semifinal on Saturday at the University of Dayton Arena.
And Africentric was left wishing it could somehow turn back the clock not an hour, like Daylight Saving Time in the Fall, but just a fraction of a second.
The play that was the ultimate drama in a drama-filled game was Africentric star Dailyn Swain’s lay-up that was no good because it went into the basket just after the final buzzer.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s win put the Titans (25-3) into the Division III state championship game at 5:15 p.m. today against Cleveland Lutheran East (21-5), which won Saturday’s other semifinal 65-44 over Canal Winchester Harvest Prep.
Colin White’s free throw with 4.9 seconds to play, which was the only point scored in the game’s second overtime, gave O-G a 48-47 lead.
Everyone knew what was coming next after that free throw. Africentric was going to try to get the ball to the 6-8 Swain, who has signed with Xavier, and led the Nubians with 21 points. And Ottawa-Glandorf was going to do everything it could to keep him from getting it right away.
O-G lost that battle when the Nubians got the ball in Swain’s hands on the in-bounds pass, but it won the battle that mattered most when he was just a bit late getting to the basket.
How close was it? “They say football is a game of inches. In high school basketball it seems like it’s a game of tenths of a second,” Africentric coach Michael Bates said. “We just needed .3 of a second more.”
Swain said, “I got a screen, I got a move. I couldn’t really see the clock, I was moving fast.”
O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin said, “We were going to do everything in our power to make it tough for him to get the ball. They ran a screen and just clipped enough of Colin to get him on the go. Our goal was to make him shoot a jump shot and preferably someone else (get the ball).”
White led O-G with 24 points and Theo Maag scored 14 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.
The Titans fell behind by 12 points early in the third quarter and were down 34-28 heading into the fourth quarter.
But their fortunes were on the upswing as the third quarter ended when White connected on a 3-pointer just before the buzzer for one of only two triples the Titans made Saturday.
“We had a huge little momentum swing where Colin hit that three and we had the ball coming out (in the fourth quarter),” McGlaughlin said.
O-G took a 41-38 lead with just over a minute to play in regulation on a drive by Levi Unterbrink. Africentric tied the game at 41-41 on a 3-pointer by Courtez Freeman and got a steal with six seconds to play but could not get off a shot.
The Titans led by as many as four points early in the first overtime but it was tied again at 47-47 when Swain missed a 3-pointer from 30 feet in the final seconds. That brought on a second overtime and Swain’s second unsuccessful attempt to win the game.
McGlaughlin praised Maag’s performance Saturday and his toughness over the last few weeks when he has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his foot.
“Theo has been our X factor. Theo was that presence in the paint that we desperately needed today. They put so much pressure on Colin and they were doing such a good job of taking some things away from Caden (Erford). So Theo took advantage of that.
“He’s gotten so much tougher. He has put the time in. I think the development of Theo, just how much tougher, stronger and confident he has become, is a testament. To show it on this stage today, I’m a proud coach,” he said.
Maag said, “I was just finding the ball and scoring and my teammates did a great job of getting the ball to me.”
Ottawa-Glandorf is in the state tournament for the third year in a row and is playing in the Division III championship game for the second consecutive year.
The Titans beat Africentric in their semifinal for the second year in a row when they added this year’s win to a 53-48 victory last year.
“High school basketball and the opportunity to play in the state tournament is something these guys talk about from the time they can walk,” McGlaughlin said about Ottawa-Glandorf’s players. “You never want to say you have to make it to the state tournament. But I think in the backs of their minds it probably was a state tournament or bust type of year.”
White and Swain delivered a show within the bigger show for the second year in a row. Last season, White scored 31 points in the win over Africentric and Swain had 32 points.
“We got at it. We had a good duel this year and last year. There is so much respect between us. I think we elevate each other’s games,” White said.
“He’s a competitor. I’m a competitor. We really go at it. I wished him good luck at Xavier. There’s a ton of respect between him and me.”
White and Swain talked longer than the usual quick hit during the handshake line after the game.
“He just told me it was all love and told me to go do good things at the next level at Xavier. Two years in a row we couldn’t get it done. Now that it’s over I’ll be cheering for him,” Swain said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0451.