By TED RADICK
LIMA — Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McLaughlin probably didn’t need to say much to his players before Thursday’s Division III boys district semifinal at Lima Senior High School.
The Titans had just seen Archbold, a No. 1 district seed and No. 1 team in the final Associated Press poll, lose its undefeated record to a 35-34 upset by Coldwater.
The O-G players are intelligent guys, but everyone needs a reminder that a team has to come out and perform as the postseason deepens.
“Archbold is obviously a rival of ours, and our guys saw that game and saw that intensity,” McLaughlin said after O-G’s 68-30 victory over Bluffton. “With Coldwater knocking them off, that got us a little more focused, maybe. It can always happen.”
Ottawa-Glandorf (21-3), the district’s second seed and the No. 8 team in the final AP poll, faces No. 5 seed Coldwater (16-9) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Lima Senior in the district final.
“It just emphasized to us to really defend, to make them shoot contested shots and shoot over the top,” McLaughlin said.
Defend is just what the Titans did. O-G forced six first-quarter turnovers from Bluffton, which ended its season at 16-8. Carter Heringhaus, Ben Westrich and Aaron Rieman all had layups that followed turnovers in the first three minutes of the game as O-G forged a quick 10-2 lead.
“We want to play in transition, that’s what we do,” McLaughlin said. “We wanted to get some turnovers, and those turnovers turned into points. That’s what you have to do against a team like Bluffton, because they have good guards.
“They can really spread you out and slow the game down, and we didn’t want that to happen.”
O-G would later go up 14-2, finish the first quarter with a 17-6 lead and take a 39-14 advantage into halftime.
“Early in the game, we knew we needed to control the tempo a little bit,” Bluffton coach Todd Boblitt said. “We had too many turnovers that resulted in points for them. If we wanted to hang around in the game, we needed to take care of the ball.”
Bluffton had 10 turnovers in the first half. Ottawa-Glandorf had one in the game.
“That’s the scary part,” Boblitt said. “We didn’t feel like we were going to be able to create offense off our defense, and then they come out and handle the ball like that. We needed to stem the tide and we were unable to do that.”
O-G point guard Owen Hiegel had eight points in the first half and center Ben Westrich, who finished with a game-high 15 points, had 10 points in the first half.
“They have a lot of guys who, it appears, have a put a lot of time into this,” Boblitt said. “It makes them really difficult to defend.
“You have to defend the entire perimiter, and when you defend the perimiter they can put it inside. It’s a double-edged sword they can attack with, and that’s where you want to be right now at this point in the season. You want to not just have to rely on perimiter shooters, or just on inside play.”
Meanwhile, O-G held Bluffton’s top scorer, guard Luke Denecker, without a field goal in the first half. Denecker finished with seven points; Mason Soper would lead the Pirates with 11 points and Jared Piercefield had seven rebounds.
“I just thought our guys did a fantastic job defensively,” McLaughlin said. “I thought Ethan White was amazing on Denecker. He’s a great offensive player. He gets the accolades he deserves, but I thought Ethan White and others when they were matched up with him did a great job.
“That set the tone for the game.”
Heringhaus and Brennan Blevins each had eight points for O-G. White grabbed six rebound as the Titans won the rebounding battle 28-20 and had a 15-1 edge in turnovers.
“You have to value the basketball and you have to rebound, and those are two things I thought we did a pretty good job of tonight,” McLaughlin said.
Garmatter 0-2–2, Soper 1-3–11, Piercefield 3-2–8, Denecker 2-2–7, Ault 1-0–2. TOTALS: 10-33 6-10 — 30.
Schomaeker 1-0–3, Fortman 1-0–3, Hiegel 5-0–10, Unterbrink 1-0–3, Blevins 3-0–8, Heringhaus 3-0–8, Alt 2-0–4, White 2-0–4, Westrich 6-2–15, Sahloff 1-0–2, Nichols 2-0–4, Rieman 1-2–4. TOTALS: 28-49 4-6 — 68.
Bluffton 6 8 11 5 — 30
Ottawa-Glandorf 17 22 23 6 — 68
3-POINT GOALS: Bluffton 4-15 (Soper 3, Denecker); Ottawa-Glandorf 8-18 (Heringhaus 2, Blevins 2, Westrich, Fortman, Schomaeker, Unterbrink).
REBOUNDS: Bluffton 20 (Piercefield 7); Ottawa-Glandorf 28 (White 6).
TURNOVERS: Bluffton 15; Ottawa-Glandorf 1.