By DAVE HANNEMAN
COLUMBUS — Ottawa-Glandorf’s girls basketball team did something in the second quarter of Thursday’s Division III state semifinal against Columbus Africientric that they’ve rarely had to do during the past four seasons.
The Titans had to play without Kadie Hempfling in the lineup.
And unfortunately for O-G head coach Troy Yant and the Titans, it’s going to become an unchangeable part of the program.
Two early fouls sent Hempfling to the O-G bench with 6:04 left in the second quarter. O-G led Columbus Africentric 15-13 at the time. Two minutes later, the Titans trailed 18-15 and, despite ties at 18-18 and 20-20, O-G never led again in what ended up as a 50-37 loss to the Nubians.
Unassuming to a fault, team-oriented to the Nth degree, Hempfling accepts individual recognition grudgingly.
“Honestly, it’s a team thing,” Hempfling said. “It’s not just me. It’s not anybody else. It’s a whole team. We win as a team. We lose as a team. Either way, we’re still proud.”
Still, Thursday’s loss to Africentric ends what will always be one of the outstanding prep careers to ever come out of O-G’s long and strong basketball tradition.
“I’ve coached basketball here for six years and Kadie has been around for four. They were the best four years you can imagine,” Yant said.
“For Kadie and our other seniors Carri (Johnson) and Mackenzie (Meyer), to go to state four years in a row and be a part of that is something special.”
A four-year letter winner, Hempfling played on teams that won 104 games and reached the state tournament all four years. She was the Western Buckeye League Player of the Year three times, the Northwest District Player of the Year twice and first-team all-Ohio as a junior and a senior.
Hempfling ended her career as the all-time leading scorer in O-G girls basketball history, though she never averaged more than 15 points a game in any one season. That is a tribute to her durability and consistency. She was also always among the team leaders in rebounds, assists and steals, but Hempfling’s greatest strengths were things that didn’t always show up in the box score, things like court savvy, passing and defense.
In the first quarter of Thursday state semifinal, for example, Hempfling scored just three points. But she figured in eight more, with the assist on a basket by Paige Sutter, a steal that led to Ashley Schroeder’s fast-break lay-up and the rebound, then the outlet passes that led to two break-aways by Erin Kaufman.
Hempfling scored just seven points in Thursday’s loss to Africentric. But she had 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Hempfling is leaving behind more than a footnote in the record books, though.
“It will be tough, extremely tough, to try to figure out where we go from here and how we put together our team,” Yant said.
“But with the leadership Kadie has given, we have some younger girls who are ready to take the mantle. We’ll see.”
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By DAVE HANNEMAN