Ottoville too much for Chieftains
ELIDA — Bob Gase took one look at the general size of opposing Ottoville players and wondered out loud if there was a way to quickly stretch his guards a little in advance of the start of the Division IV regional semifinal at Elida Fieldhouse here Thursday night.
Gase’s Hopewell-Loudon girls stood up to the tournament-battle tested Big Green over the final three quarters and even outscored them by two over that span.
But the first quarter was a different matter. A much different matter.
Ottoville’s full-court zone-trap press was a monster. The Big Green worked the Chieftains for 11 first-period turnovers in opening a 24-6 lead on the way to a 62-46 win.
They will take a 25-2 record into Saturday’s championship game against Leipsic. The Vikings (23-3) turned back Haviland Wayne Trace 55-43 in the Thursday opener.
It was a press with a purpose that Ottoville employed. The idea — to keep freshman first-team All-Northwest District selection Makayla Elmore from getting involved — was a logical one.
“We did not want them to get into too much of a half-court set so they could find ways to get her the ball,” said Ottoville coach David Kleman, who topped 500 career wins earlier this season.
His club did that and more.
The Chieftains turned the ball over on their first four possessions and were unable to get a shot off until the game was more than three minutes old.
Meanwhile, Bridget Landin scored on a drive and Quinley Schlamgbaum nailed a 3-pointer to get Ottoville started. After a Jacque Burns free throw got the Chieftains on the board, the Big Green scored eight straight, including baskets by Haley Hoersten, Amber Miller and Landin off turnovers.
Hopewell-Loudon didn’t get its first field goal until Kyleigh Krupp hit a short jumper off a Kenadee Siebenaller pass with 41 seconds left in the first period. By that time, the Ottoville lead had grown to 21-6.
“I thought we were really good with the ball in the first half, finding open people, getting steals, etc.” Kleman said.
“You go 6-foot, 6-foot, 5-11, 5-11, that’s huge,” Gase said. “I tried to settle them down. It was more their experience than anything. It showed in the first quarter.”
Kasey Knippen and CJ Kemper combined for five points and the margin ballooned to 29-6 before the settling feeling Gase hoped for took hold.
Freshman Olivia Zender started a mini-turnaround with a 3-pointer and a couple free throws. Burns added a 3-pointer and a conventional three-point play off a rebound and Hailey Coppus also had a three-point play in a 14-5 Hopewell-Loudon finish to pull within 34-20 at the half.
“We finally got it together and played our style of basketball instead of theirs,” Gase said. “And we got a little smarter (regarding turnovers). The biggest thing is we slowed down. We didn’t get in such a hurry.”
Kemper, who led Ottoville with 20 points, got seven of those in the first four minutes of the second half to help her club gain a 19-point edge at 43-24.
“She’s had 20 before but yeah, that’s one of her top five for the year,” Kleman said. “Kasey didn’t score a lot tonight, but when she doesn’t, DJ does and vice versa.”
At the other end, Gase moved Elmore to the top of the offense in order to try to get her more involved. She scored seven in the third period as well, but the Chieftains could never get close enough to put the Big Green in a pressure spot.
Siebenaller scored five, Coppus hit a 3-pointer and Elmore had a putback in a short fourth-quarter spurt that trimmed it 54-42. But the Ottoville went 9 for 9 from the foul line in the fourth period, six of those coming in the final two minutes to seal it.
“Give them credit for bouncing back in the second half,” Kleman said. “You know, you don’t make it to regionals and not be good enough to do something like that.”
Landin had 16 points and Miller had eight to back Kemper for Ottoville.
Elmore led Hopewell-Loudon with 14 points and had five rebounds, drawing Kleman’s praise.
“She is the real deal,” he said. “She is going to be, in my opinion, a big-time recruit for some college. And I don’t mean mid-major, either, big schools.”
Burns had nine points for the Chieftains, who finish 22-5. Siebenaller had eight points and team highs of six rebounds and four assists. Coppus scored seven and Zender six.