By DAVE HANNEMAN
COLUMBUS — Ottoville and Shadyside played three quarters of dead even basketball on Friday.
Kasey Knippen made sure that the other quarter wasn’t the one that would send the Big Green home from the state tournament early.
“I just tried to do what I normally do, tried to take advantage of the opportunities,” said Knippen, who scored six points during a pivotal second quarter that turned out to be the difference in Ottoville’s 50-43 win on Friday in one of two Division IV state semifinals played at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
With the score deadlocked at 11-11, Knippen opened the second quarter by stealing two passes and converting both into fastbreak layups.
Haley Hoersten would complete a three-point play with 2:46 left in the second period, Alexa Honigford nailed a 3-pointer with 1:29 on the clock and Knippen capped the period with a jumper in the lane.
Ottoville’s 12-5 advantage in the second quarter created a 23-16 halftime lead. The Big Green padded that cushion to 10 points in the second half, weathered a Shadyside comeback bid in the fourth quarter and salted it away with some clutch free throws in the final minute.
“It was a typical win for us, a grind-it-out kind of win,” said Ottoville coach Dave Kleman. “We do it as a group, we stay together, and at the end we got some key buckets when we needed them.”
The Big Green, 25-3 and ranked No. 6 in the final state poll, earned a spot in today’s 5:15 p.m. state championship game against No. 2-ranked Minster (27-1).
The game is a rematch of last year’s Division IV state final, which Minster won 63-48.
Shadyside, making its first state tournament appearance since 2011, finished its season at 24-5.
“The key was that second quarter,” said Shadyside coach Serge Gentile. “Defensively, they got us back on our heels a little bit, and we had some turnovers. They took away our reverse-side pass. That made us hesitant and we weren’t attacking. We’re not a good team when we’re hesitant; nobody is.”
Shadyside relied heavily on the long ball this season, attempting 751 3-pointers and making 221. The Tigers were poised to continue that trend at state, with eight of their nine first-quarter shots coming from beyond the arc. Baylee Wach, a 5-6 sophomore guard, knocked three of them down.
Ottoville switched from zone to man-to-man pressure in the second quarter, though, and the game turned.
Shadyside dropped from three 3-pointers and 11 points in the first quarter to one 3-pointer and five points in the second.
“We were trying to mix it up on them, and hopefully by doing that mix them up,” Kleman said. “Early on, they got too many open looks. We went strictly to man because of that.”
Ottoville achieved its biggest lead of the game at 27-16 when Knippen drilled a 3-pointer to open the second half and Brynlee Hanneman followed with a free throw. But the Big Green went cold, and Shadyside heated up.
Wach, Shadyside’s top 3-point threat with 70 on the season, drilled one trey and Sydnie Destifanes followed with another to pull the Tigers within three at 27-24. Wach’s second 3-pointer of the quarter and fifth of the game made if 29-26 with three minutes left in the period.
Ottoville regained some breathing room when Kylee Hoersten converted an offensive rebound, Nicole Knippen got two free throws and Alexis Honigford beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer.
Shadyside eventually trimmed the deficit to four (42-38) when Tory Hendershot made two free throws and a driving layup, the last coming with 2:42 on the clock.
Ottoville lost a bit of its aggressiveness by going to a slow-down game. But the Big Green connected on enough free throws in those final 150 seconds to punch their ticket to the finals.
Ottoville shot just 37 percent from the field, making 3 of 12 3-pointers and 17 of 46 shots overall. But the Big Green outscored Shadyside 13-7 from the line, outrebounded the Tigers 34-28 and committed 10 turnovers while forcing Shadyside into 16.
And while Ottoville did not shine on one half of the court, the Big Green certainly did on the other.
“We didn’t make the shots we normally do, and if you coach long enough there are always going to be games like that,” Kleman said. “When that happens, you hope your defense is strong enough to get you through the game and win it, and today we were.
“If you’re not playing good defense when you have off-nights shooting the ball, you might as well start the busses early and head out.”
Kasey Knippen led Ottoville with a game-high 20 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Haley Hoersten added nine points and Honigford had eight points.
Wach pumped in 17 points and grabbed a game-best eight rebounds for Shadyside. Hendershot had 13 points and Destifanes 12 points.
Coffand 0-3 1-2 2, Mayeres 0-2 0-0 0, Destifanes 4-7 2-2 12, T. Hendershot 4-14 4-4 13, Wach 6-16 0-0 17, Selmon 0-0 0-0 0, Gorby 0-1 0-0 0, J. Hendershot 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 14-43 7-8 — 43.
Hanneman 0-3 1-2 1, H. Hoersten 3-8 3-3 9, Schlagbaum 0-2 4-4 4, N. Knippen 1-9 2-6 4, K. Knippern 8-15 3-5 20, Honigford 3-5 0-0 8, Thomas 0-1 0-0 0, K. Hoersten 2-3 0-0 4. TOTALS: 17-46 13-20 — 50.
Shadyside 11 5 10 17 — 43
Ottoville 11 12 13 14 — 50
3-POINT GOALS: Shadyside 8-24 (Coffand 0-2, Mayeres 0-2, Destifanes 2-5, T. Hendershot 1-5, Wach 5-10); Ottoville 3-12 (H. Hoersten 0-1, Schlgbaum 0-1, N. Kmppen 0-3, K. Knippen 1-4, Honigford 2-2).
REBOUNDS: Shadyside 28 (Wach 8); Ottoville 34 (K. Knippen 7, Hanneman 5).
TURNOVERS: Shadyside 16; Ottoville 10.