Boys Basketball: Recognizing the league champions

Most area conferences crowned at least a share of their boys basketball champions last week.

Here’s a rundown of who came out on top, while reviewing key points in their seasons.

Western Buckeye League: Ottawa-Glandorf 18-3, 8-0 WBL

For each of the past eight seasons, either Ottawa-Glandorf or Shawnee has held at least a share of the top spot in the WBL.

This year was no exception.

When the Titans and the Indians met on Feb. 9, Ottawa-Glandorf asserted its dominance and clinched a share of the league title with a decisive 55-41 win.

In that game, the Titans left no doubt that they were the better team, getting out to a 25-9 lead. It was the fast start coach Tyson McGlaughlin had challenged his team to get out to, paired with defensive intensity.

“We didn’t want them to get open looks, we wanted them to earn it,” he said. “I thought we did a good job of making them shoot contested shots.”

Amid a perfect WBL slate, McGlaughlin picked up his 300th career win against Elida on Jan. 5.

With a victory over Kenton on Friday, the Titans complete a perfect run through the league schedule and own the conference outright.

For leading scorer and Ohio State commit Colin White, it’s his third WBL title in his four seasons. The 6-foot-6 guard has continued to be a consistent offensive force with games of 31 points against St. Marys, 31 against Celina and 29 points in a 51-48 win over Lima Senior.

White also broke the Putnam County scoring record Jan. 26 against Van Wert.

The Titans got off to a 7-0 start this year before dropping a Saturday afternoon showdown to Lima Central Catholic, 56-54, on Dec. 30. O-G’s two remaining losses came against Findlay (49-47) and Troy Christian (61-50).

Wins over Lima Senior (51-48), Berlin Hiland (59-56) and Lexington (58-54) highlighted a difficult non-league schedule.

Toledo City League: Lima Senior 13-9, 5-1 TCL

Lima Senior has battled through plenty of adversity to claim the top spot in the Toledo City League.

After losing starting point guard Amari Addy to an ACL injury before the start of the season, and Je’Kel Cotton to a broken foot in the fourth game of the year, it has been a “next man up” mentality for the Spartans.

Freshman guard Shawn Foster and junior guard Isaiah Wilson are two key players who’ve stepped into important roles and excelled in the process.

Foster leads the team in scoring with 16.5 points per game, and Wilson contributes 13.7 points and 4.5 assists per contest.

Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson said that Wilson’s play at the point guard position has been vital to the success of his team’s offense.

“He’s always been a point guard, but he’s now got to drive the car for us,” he said. “And as a coach, I have to be willing to take some of the mistakes he has. But he has done a phenomenal job. And he wants to be better.”

Another key contributor to Lima Senior’s success has been the emergence of 6-foot-7 junior forward Jagger Hutchins, who averaged 9.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, replacing some of the production the Spartans needed during the absence of Je’Kel Cotton.

“He (Hutchins) is buying in. He’s probably one of our better shooters, but he’s definitely buying into having some shots at the rim. He has played really aggressive around the basket,” Simpson said.

Lima Senior started the year 8-6. After falling to Ottawa-Glandorf 51-48 on Jan. 20, the Spartans won five of their next six games.

They defeated Scott 51-47 in the first round of the TCL tournament and Rogers in the finals, 63-44.

Midwest Athletic Conference: Delphos St. John’s 19-2, 8-0 MAC

One more game stands in front of an outright MAC title for Delphos St. John’s, and it’s a revenge game of sorts against Marion Local on Friday.

Last year, the Blue Jays had a chance to clinch a share of the conference championship, but a 58-48 loss to the Flyers ended their hopes.

This year, the Blue Jays enter their matchup against Marion Local riding a high from a last-second victory over Coldwater last Friday on game-winning three from Cameron Elwer.

The corner triple capped a 40-point outing for Elwer, who’s averaged 29 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 62.5% from the field, 57.1% from 3-point, and 87.3% from the foul line during his sophomore campaign.

To this point, Elwer’s cold-blooded game-winner against Coldwater has been the highlight of the season.

Aaron Elwer said, “It’s hard to enjoy moments like that as a dad when I’m so about coaching and the next play, but someday I’ll look back on it and see Cameron as the hardest worker that you’ll ever meet. I see it every day. Kids who work hard and trust the process are easy to root for. Cameron has a lot of fans and he deserves it.

“Tonight he had it going. He had one goal in mind, and that was to win.”

Delphos St. John’s has signature wins against Dayton Dunbar (82-54), LCC (58-53), Pandora-Gilboa (57-48), and Spencerville (65-60) in non-league play.

The two blemishes on their record came against a pair of WBL teams, Shawnee (65-58) and Elida (54-47).

The Blue Jays have not lost a game since Jan.6 and are currently on an 11-game winning streak.

Northwest Conference: Spencerville 17-4, 7-0 NWC

Normally when you have to replace the production of the 2023 NWC Player of the Year (Josh Henline), there’s an adjustment period and maybe a step backward.

That hasn’t been the case for Spencerville, which claimed its second straight outright conference title and 10th in the league’s history.

The Bearcats, who play a balanced brand of basketball, have leaned on sophomore Owen Sensabaugh and senior Carter Sudhoff for continued success against their NWC rivals.

Sensabaugh set his career high of 27 points in a 64-46 win over Columbus Grove without hitting a single three-pointer, a shot he leaned on heavily during his freshman season.

Sensabugh leads the Bearcats in scoring with 14.1 points per game, followed by Sudhoff at 12.8 points and Evan Osting with 10.1 points.

In a key 76-74 overtime win against Bluffton, Spencerville secured at least a share of the conference crown on a last-second putback from Sudhoff. Bluffton’s 47-35 loss to Columbus Grove on Feb. 9 left the Bearcats alone at the top of the standings.

“That was a special one for sure,” Spencerville coach Kevin Sensabaugh said after the Bluffton game. “Our guys wanted that so badly. I thought we played our butts off tonight and fought through so much adversity in the first half. They just kept hanging on. The way we won tonight is what makes great teams great.”

Spencerville dropped its first two games of the year to St. Henry (65-58) and Elida (56-55). The Bearcats went on to win four straight games prior to a loss against St. Marys (54-50), then won seven straight before falling to St. John’s (65-60).

Since Spencerville’s loss to the Blue Jays on Jan. 27, six straight wins have followed.

Putnam County League: Pandora-Gilboa 19-2, 6-0 PCL

If Pandora-Gilboa can get the job done on Thursday night against Continental (2-18, 0-6 PCL), they’ll own the league title outright for the second time in the past three seasons.

The Rockets steamrolled through their PCL schedule, including a 63-40 win over second-place Ottoville on Jan. 13. Five conference wins came by an average point differential of 18 points, with the lone scare provided by Columbus Grove.

The visiting Rockets needed overtime to pull out a 55-48 win.

Pandora-Gilboa coach Mike Lee called it “survival of the fittest” in the race for the league championship.

“This time of year, you’re going to get everybody’s best,” he said after the win. “We just kept hanging around and hanging around, and we finally hit a couple of shots to get a little bit of space, lead-wise. That’s a very good basketball team that we went up against, so I give our guys a lot of credit.”

A one-two punch of Colin and Aiden Harris carried the Rockets past Columbus Grove despite playing most of the fourth quarter and overtime in foul trouble.

Aiden Harris, a frontrunner for the PCL Player of the Year award, has been a consistent lead threat on offense with 18.6 points, six rebounds and two steals per game, while his twin brother Colin Harris contributes 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game.

Pandora-Gilboa started the year on a 12-game winning streak before suffering back-to-back losses to Arlington (48-46) and St. John’s (57-48).

The Rockets’ Jan. 20 loss to the Blue Jays sparked an active seven-game winning streak.

Reach Chris Howell at 567-242-0468 or on Twitter @Lima_Howell