By MICHAEL BURWELL
COLUMBUS — Even the toughest players are susceptible to injury. And unfortunately for Ottoville’s girls basketball team on Saturday, Bridget Landin’s head injury during the Big Green’s Division IV state championship against Minster played a big role in the outcome.
Landin, a four-year starter, two-time first team all-Ohioan and the heart and soul of the Big Green, left the game with 6:49 left and Ottoville trailing 43-42 in a back-and-forth affair.
Minster finished the game on a 20-6 run after Landin left en route to winning a state title with a 63-48 victory at Value City Arena in Columbus.
“She’s got a big heart for that type of thing (wanting to come back and play),” Ottoville coach Dave Kleman said. “She would want to come back in and back in the day, 20 years ago, she probably would have went back in. Ah, lace your shoes up and let’s go.
“But we’re a lot smarter about that now and there’s no way we’re going to put her in if there’s a risk to her health. She’s more important than any game we play.”
Landin had nine points in the third quarter and 13 in the game when she and Minster junior standout Courtney Prenger, along with a couple other players, collided early in the fourth quarter.
Landin fell and hit her head on the floor and was in serious pain right away.
“I think our feet just got tangled up and I ended up hitting my head on the floor,” Landin said. “Everything just got really dizzy, then they took me back and I just told (the trainer) I wanted to play but she said I couldn’t.”
Landin walked off the court under her own power, went to the trainer’s room a couple minutes later and returned to the Big Green bench with a little over two minutes left.
By then, Minster had built a 53-48 lead, its biggest in a quarter that featured eight lead changes. The Wildcats forced several Big Green turnovers and scored the final 10 points of the game.
“It was really rough,” Landin said. “I just kept asking if I could go in, it was my senior year. I just wanted to play my last game, but I couldn’t so I just tried to be the best I could on the bench and cheer them on.”
Added Kleman: “Bridget was on a mission. She was coming at them there (in the third quarter and early fourth) and she was taking over about the time she get knocked down or fell down and hit her head. I would have liked to see what would happen if she would have been able to finish the game.”
For Landin, it was a tough ending to an outstanding prep career.
The 6-foot senior, who can play all five positions on the court, reached 1,000 career points in a 54-48 win over Division III state semifinalist Ottawa-Glandorf on Dec. 21.
She was also the Putnam County League player of the year in helping the Big Green win its first conference title since 2013 with a 7-0 record.
The Big Green finished 27-3 this season and tied a school record for wins in a season (27-1 in 2013). She has helped Ottoville go 93-18 over the last four years with two state tournament appearances (2017 state semifinalist).
“Bridget’s really been an iron-woman for us,” Kleman said. “I don’t think she missed maybe one game in her career with a sprained ankle and she probably would have played if I let her, but I wouldn’t let her play that game.
“It takes a lot to get her out of the ballgame. It just so happened she got her bell rung there and hopefully she’ll be fine.”
Although Landin’s prep career came to an end, she’ll still get a chance to continue her basketball career. She will be making the 40-mile trip east on U.S. Route 224 to play for the University of Findlay next season.
“The accomplishments this year are unreal, I’m glad to be a part of this team and get all of those. It’s been a good year,” Landin said.
“I’m pretty excited to go play at Findlay and get started over there now that this has ended. But this has been a fun ride and I hope that’s just as fun over there.”
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