District Girls Basketball: L-B, Ottawa-Glandorf win to set Saturday final

Staff Writer
ELIDA — Liberty-Benton did exactly what a ranked team playing an underdog isn’t supposed to do.
The Eagles got in foul trouble in the first half and let Lima Central Catholic hang around and get itself back in the game. Liberty-Benton righted the ship in the second half, and sailed to a 76-38 victory over the Thunderbirds in a Division III district semifinal girls basketball game at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Liberty-Benton (21-2), ranked sixth in the final Associated Press Divsion III poll, will play seventh-ranked Ottawa-Glandorf (22-2), a 52-33 winner over Columbus Grove in Thursday’s opener, at 3 p.m. Saturday at Elida for the district championship.
Liberty-Benton ran into some problems toward the end of the second quarter against LCC (17-7). Center Lauren Kotey picked up her second foul and hit the bench with the Eagles up 25-12, and LCC took immediate advantage.
Freshman Madison Stolly worked free for a short jumper, and soon knocked down another. Sydney Santaguida drove for a layup, and the Thunderbirds were in business.
“The Stolly girl had a great game tonight, and she was the difference,” Liberty-Benton coach Nate Irwin said. “We had extended and had about a 12- to 13-point lead, Lauren went to the bench and they pounded it right down to the Stolly girl.”
LCC eventually closed the gap to 25-22 before Rachel Myers hit a halfcourt buzzer-beater to end the half. Given a chance to regroup with a 28-22 lead, the Eagles came out firing in the third quarter.
Myers, who finished with 31 points, and Kotey, who had 14, hit buckets to open the third and the game soon got out of hand. Nicolette Devincentis scored on a layup and a midrange jumper as the Eagles built their lead back up to double digits.
“Nicolette stepped up in the second half,” Irwin said. “Rachel got her points in the second half, but when Nicolette’s able to shoot the ball like she was there, it makes us so much tougher to defend.”
Devincentis hit all five of her shots in the second half, Kotey was 5 of 8 and Myers added 15 points after the break. L-B shot 67 percent (18 of 27) after halftime, outscored the T-Birds 26-6 in the third quarter and led 52-28 after the third quarter.
“We were struggling to finish in the first half, and then we came out in the second half and shot amazingly well,” Myers said. “We played awesome team ball tonight.”
Irwin credited Kotey’s 6-foot-1 presence on the blocks for much of that. She had 10 points and eight of her 12 rebounds after the break.
“Lauren’s minutes were limited tonight, but she took advantage of the minutes she did have,” he said. “That was our game plan tonight. We knew they were great 3-point shooters, and they didn’t have a lot of size inside. We were looking to attack with Lauren, and she got in some foul trouble and we had to adjust.
“It sure was nice to get her back on the floor. It really opens things up when teams have to worry about and double team her. We shot the ball so much better in the second half, and a lot of it had to do with the fact she was on the floor a lot more.”
Stolly finished with 17 points for LCC. Sydney Mohler had 14 rebounds.
“Getting their big girl in foul trouble in the first half was huge for us,” LCC coach Katie Krieg said. “Going in down six at halftime, we felt pretty good about that against an excellent team.”
Krieg noted that her squad hit just 3 of 22 3-point shots against an extended L-B zone defense.
“Liberty-Benton did a great job of taking away the 3-pointer tonight, which is our main tool. They got hot in that third quarter, and we wasted a lot of possessions and it got away from us.”
It got away from Columbus Grove (15-10) early on in the opening game. Ottawa-Glandorf jumped to a 4-0 lead, stretched it to 11-3 and to 16-7 after the first quarter.
Another hot stretch pushed the Titans to a 21-9 lead early in the second quarter, and the Bulldogs were never within 10 points the remainder of the game.
Ottawa-Glandorf had its own first-half foul issues to overcome. Point guard Kristen Miller sat for chunk of time with her second foul, but the Titans didn’t miss a beat.
Anna Bellman, twice, and Dani Ellerbrock worked down low for baskets in the second quarter as Ottawa-Glandorf assumed control. Eleven offensive rebounds in the first half led to Ottawa-Glandorf taking 30 shots in the first half to Columbus Grove’s 10.
O-G led 29-13 at halftime.
“We figured this would be a grind it out game and we’d have to consistently pound at them,” O-G coach Troy Yant said. “We might have been a little too grabby at first, and got in some foul trouble.”
Ottawa-Glandorf ended the game with a 31-15 edge on the boards, including a 17-4 advantage in offensive rebounds.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” Yant said. “We wanted to be sure we weren’t settling for one shot outside.”
Bellman and Elissa Ellerbrock (game-high six rebounds) each scored 13 points to pace the Titans. Miller had four assists and three steals.
Julia Wynn led Columbus Grove with nine points. Sydney McCluer had eight and Sammi Stechschulte seven.
“You know what’s coming, but trying to simulate it in practice and working on a way to counter it is another thing,” Columbus Grove coach Brian Schroeder said. “We just weren’t able to handle their pressure, simple as that.”

E. Ellerbrock 6-9 1-2 13, Bellman 6-10 1-1 13, Miller 2-9 2-2 6, Schroeder 2-7 0-0 6, White 1-5 4-4 6, D. Ellerbrock 2-4 0-0 4, Basinger 1-1 0-0 2, Rosselit 0-1 2-2 2, Hempfling 0-0 0-0 0, Maag 0-1 0-0 0, Verhoff 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20-47 10-11–52.
Wynn 3-4 3-4 9, McCluer 2-8 3-4 8, Stechschulte 2-3 2-2 7, Diller 2-3 0-0 4, Schumacher 0-2 2-4 2, Yinger 0-4 2-2 2, Vorhees 0-1 1-2 1, Clement 0-0 0-0 0, Endicott 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 9-25 13-18–33.
Ottawa-Glandorf 16 13 17 6 — 52
Columbus Grove 7 6 12 8 — 33
3-Point GOALS: Ottawa-Glandorf 2-7 (D. Schroeder 2-3, E. Ellerbrock 0-1, Miller 0-2, Maag 0-1); Columbus Grove 2-6 (McCluer 1-2, Stechschulte 1-2, Schumacher 0-1, Yinger 0-1).
rebounds: Ottawa-Glandorf 31 (E. Ellerbrock 6, White 5); Columbus Grove 15.
turnovers: Columbus Grove 19, Ottawa-Glandorf 14.
ASSISTS: Ottawa-Glandorf 10 (Maag & Miller 4); Columbus Grove 8 (McCluer & Stechschulte 2).
STEALS: Ottawa-Glandorf 11 (Miller & Maag 3); Columbus Grove 7 (Yinger 2).
BLOCKS: Columbus Grove 2, Ottawa-Glandorf 1.
FOULS: Ottawa-Glandorf 16, Columbus Grove 7.
Myers 10-15 8-10 31, Devincentis 7-12 2-2 21, Kotey 7-10 0-1 14, Hiegel 2-6 0-0 4, Reynolds 1-8 0-0 2, Trevino 1-2 0-2 2, Colchagoff 0-1 0-0 0, Vandeneynde 0-0 0-0 0, Recker 0-0 0-1 0. TOTALS: 29-56 10-16–76.
Stolly 7-21 3-4 17, Shepherd 3-12 0-0 8, Mohler 2-4 0-0 4, Sanrtaguida 1-7 2-2 4, Verhoff 1-8 0-0 3, Snider 1-2 0-0 2, Kidd 0-0 0-0 0, Donnelly 0-0 0-0 0, Koenig 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 15-54 5-6–38.
Liberty-Benton 16 12 26 22 — 76
Lima Central Catholic 12 10 6 10 — 38
3-Point GOALS: Lima Central Catholic 3-22 (Shepherd 2-10, Stolly 0-1, Santaguida 0-2, Verhoff 1-8, Snider 0-1); Liberty-Benton 8-18 (Devincentis 5-10, Myers 3-4, Reynolds 0-4).
rebounds: Liberty-Benton 46 (Kotey 12, Trevino & Hiegel 7); Lima Central Catholic 25 (Mohler 14).
turnovers: Lima Central Catholic 8, Liberty-Benton 8.
ASSISTS: Liberty-Benton 18 (Hiegel 7); Lima Central Catholic 9 (Shepherd & Santaguida 3).
STEALS: Liberty-Benton 5, Lima Central Catholic 4.
BLOCKS: Liberty-Benton 5 (Myers 3, Kotey 2); Lima Central Catholic none.
FOULS: Lima Central Catholic 13, Liberty-Benton 6.
Radick, 419-427-8405
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