ELIDA – Last season, Columbus Grove defeated Ottoville in the Division IV District Finals and ultimately finished second in the state tournament.
That’s been on the minds of returning Ottoville players this season.
In a Division IV men’s district final at Elida Fieldhouse on Friday night, Ottoville earned redemption, as the Big Green jumped early on Columbus Grove and never hung, en route to a 64-45 win. .
Ottoville (17-9) will face No. 1 Tiffin Calvert in a regional semifinal at Bowling Green State University on Tuesday night with a 6 p.m. kickoff.
“We’ve been locked in, defensively, for a good part of the month,” Ottoville head coach Keith Utendorf said. “Our kids have tweaked some of the things we want them to do against different opponents this season. I’ll be honest – tonight they were perfect in their execution. We made a few mistakes, maybe in the first half. time and early in the second half. But our guys were locked in. We hit early, that kinda propelled us. Then we were locked in for the rest of the way.
Will Miller led Ottoville and all scorers with 21 points. Miller also walked away with eight rebounds and four assists. Carter Horstman had 14 points and three assists for the Big Green.
Ottoville wasted no time on Friday as the Big Green took a 30-11 halftime lead. Columbus Grove had under 10 points late in the game, twice, but never came close.
“We hit a few shots, early on,” Utendorf said. “Michael Steffan (six points) and Carter Schnipke (six points) both hit big shots, early on. Carter Horstman hit a big three when they weren’t guarding it; and we knew we had to have these situations. (Our) guys hit shots, and everyone was locked in defensively. I can’t be more proud of them. Our guys just played their best game of the season.
Trey Sautter, the son of Columbus Grove head coach Chris Sautter, led the Bulldogs with 19 points, including 15 in the second half. Brayden Bellman added 10 points for Columbus Grove.
Miller, a senior, said Friday’s win over Columbus Grove was long overdue.
“We owed them one,” Miller said. “We missed my second year. We failed my freshman year. We knew going into this game we were going to have to play hard and really work defensively. It was bittersweet to beat these guys in this type of match.
Ottoville quickly took an 8-0 lead. Schnipke and Steffan each hit a 3-pointer to restart the Big Green.
At the end of the first quarter, Ottoville led 16-6.
Ottoville’s defensive pressure helped cause Columbus Grove five turnovers in the first quarter. The Bulldogs finished the night with 13 turnovers. Ottoville only turned it over nine times for the game.
Carter Horstman led the way for Ottoville with five points in the first quarter. Horstman led the Big Green in the first half with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Columbus Grove struggled on the offensive end. The Bulldogs were just 3 of 11 to shoot from the field. Ottoville was 6 of 14 in field goal attempts.
Ottoville kept pushing the tempo. By halftime, the Big Green’s lead had increased to 19 points.
In the third quarter, Ottoville led by no less than 22 points.
However, at the third stop, Ottoville’s lead was reduced to 11, 39-28.
The Bulldogs hit three times from behind the 3-point line in the third quarter.
Columbus Grove brought it back to 10, 41-31, 7:01 into the fourth quarter, on a 3-pointer from Bo Birnesser (nine points), his second hat-trick of the game.
However, the Big Green made it to the free-throw line often and extended the lead even further down the stretch.
“We spent all that energy, just trying to get back to it,” Columbus Grove head coach Chris Sautter said. “They (Ottoville) probably shot 90% from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Bo (Birnesser) hit a few shots, late. … We knew it was due. We couldn’t get Zach (Reynolds, five points) started. We tried to get (Brayden) Bellman some touches inside. When he (Bellman) had some space, he was able to shake things up. It was simply too big a mountain to climb. … We just couldn’t get over the hump.
On the night, Ottoville shot 90% from the free throw line (18 of 20).
Ottoville shot 44% from the field. Columbus Grove has hit 33% of its shots from the ground.
The Big Green held a slight 30-27 edge on the boards.
Ottoville’s William Miller sets up a shot against Columbus Grove’s Brayden Bellman during Friday night’s Division IV District Finals at Elida Fieldhouse. See more high school basketball photos on LimaScores.com.
Columbus Grove’s Jacksen Schroeder throws a shot against Ottoville’s Kellen Schlagbaum in Friday night’s Division IV District Finals at Elida Fieldhouse.
Ottoville’s Michael Turnwald shoots against Columbus Grove’s Noah Macke in Friday night’s Division IV District Finals at Elida Fieldhouse.
Contact the Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.