O-G falls short in state final

DAYTON – The first clue of the size of the challenge Cleveland Heights Lutheran East presented for Ottawa-Glandorf might have come very early in a 67-61 win by the Falcons over the Titans in the Division III boys basketball state championship game on Sunday night at the University of Dayton Arena.

That’s when Lutheran East’s 6-9 post player Jesse McCulloch (17 points, 11 rebounds a game) picked up two quick fouls and went to the bench 2 ½ minutes into the game and he was replaced by a 6-7 player.

O-G (25-4) battled for 32 minutes but was playing catch up from late in the first quarter until the end of the game.

Lutheran East (22-5) led by 10 points, 50-40, a minute into the fourth quarter before the Titans made it a two possession game by cutting that lead to four points, 65-61, with five seconds left to play.

“When you’ve got really talented players against you with the length they had, and put on top of that they have guys who can really play, we dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of today,” Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin said after the Titans finished as D-III runner-up for the second year in a row.

“As a coach all you can ask for is for guys to leave it all on the court and our guys fought, scratched clawed and did everything in their power to put us in a position to win this game.

“Initially, I thought the game had to be in the 40s or high 40s for us be successful. Lutheran East is just really good. They’re really, really good. And not only are they really good, they played really well today,” he said.

“It wasn’t due to lack of effort, it wasn’t due to these guys not laying it all on the line. Sometimes you get beat by the better team and, unfortunately, that means the championship.”

Colin White’s 18 points led O-G’s scoring. Hunter Stechschulte had 14 points, including four 3-pointers and Caden Erford scored 10 points. Levi Unterbrink had nine points, all on 3-pointers, and Theo Maag scored 8 points and tied White for the team lead in rebounds with seven.

Cody Head led Lutheran East with 19 points. T.J. Crumble, a 6-7 freshman, and Ronald Taylor, a 6-4 junior, each had 12 points. Anthony Bruce contributed nine points off the bench, including going 6 for 6 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

Lutheran East shot 57 percent on field goals (21 of 38) and 47 percent (8 of 17) on 3-pointers. Ottawa-Glandorf shot 40 percent overall (20 of 50) and 46 percent on threes (11 of 24).

“Every time they hit a big shot it seemed like we answered back and made a shot,” Lutheran East coach Sam Liggins said.

“I knew Ottawa-Glandorf is a tremendous program. His kids are tough. I knew they weren’t going to back down from our size. They were going to be physical with our big guys inside. I told our guys, I told our coaches, if we’re going to win tonight we’re going to have to hit some outside shots,” he said.

Ottawa-Glandorf was playing in the state tournament for the third year in a row and for the tenth time in school history. The Titans won state championships in 2013, 2008 and 2004 and have been state runner-up this season, last season and in 1996. They were in the state semifinals in 2021, 2012, 1978 and 1977.

Lutheran East won its fourth state championship. Its other titles came in 2021, 2017 and 2005. It has been in the last six state tournaments which have been played.

“They had a couple guys really step up. I thought the point guard made a couple huge shots and was automatic at the line. That’s what makes them special. They have D-I guys all over the court. You do a pretty good job of containing some of those guys and somebody like that comes in there and it’s pick your poison. That’s the sign of a really good team,” McGlaughlin said.

“We might not have a roster full of D-I athletes and scholarship guys but we have guys who are going

to do everything in their power to represent O-G. I’ll take a group of guys like that any day of the week. “We lost on the court today but they’re going to win in life,” he said.

Jim Naveau
Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.