Boys Basketball: Pandora-Gilboa holds off Ottoville

Mar. 6—ELIDA — Ottoville is a tough team to get rid of in March.

They're never too far behind to make a comeback and they tend to hang around into the late minutes with a chance to steal a win.

On Tuesday night they did almost exactly that, but Pandora-Gilboa staved off a fourth-quarter run and pulled out a 53-48 win in the district semifinals at the Elida Fieldhouse.

"We handled them in the regular season, but as soon as we knew we'd be playing them again, it's hard to convince kids that it's not going to be the same this time around," Pandora-Gilboa coach Mike Lee said. "It's tournament basketball. We knew they weren't going away. They showed a lot of fight, but we didn't waiver.

"We got the ball in the right hands down the stretch and executed when we needed to. They were forced to put us on the line at the end of the game, we have experienced kids, so had them in the right spots at the right time."

With 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, Ottoville climbed all the way back within one (46-45) after being down by as much as 13 in the third quarter.

With the game in the balance, Pandora-Gilboa turned to its top offensive threat, 6'4" senior guard Aiden Harris, and Harris put Ottoville away with a tough basket through contact and three free throws, finishing the night with 21 points.

"He's the Player of the Year in two leagues for a reason," Lee said. "When the ball is in his hands, we can live with whatever happens down the stretch."

For most of the second half, Harris went head-to-head with Ottoville's Landon Horstman, who scored 24 points, including 19 of Ottoville's 25 points in a 14-minute stretch before fouling out with 3:08 left in the game.

For Horstman, this type of performance was a repeat of the last few games of his junior season.

"His effort was absolutely amazing," Ottoville coach Keith Utendorf said. "If you look back at the second half of our last three games, that's what he's done. We needed him tonight when things weren't falling and he responded. That's a heck of a player. He's the reason we got back into this game."

Mike Lee said, "That's a kid that's really gotten better as the year progressed. He's a load inside, and you have to pick your poison because if you try to get around him, then he's got free reigns for offensive rebounds. Just a tough customer."

Pandora-Gilboa led 18-10 after one and kept its pace at the break, up 35-28. Ottoville outscored the Rockets 23-20 in the second half.

Ottoville struggled from the field, hitting just 16 of 57 shots for 28 percent. They also missed eight free throws, going 13 for 22 from the line.

"We didn't really get a lot of things to fall tonight," Utendorf said. "We weren't great from the foul line and we missed layups that we haven't missed all year, but credit to them (Pandora-Gilboa) for what they did defensively. It just wasn't our night, but to come back the way our kids did in the fourth quarter is exactly a testament of our program and what these kids are about. To give ourselves a chance at the end despite everything else is exactly who these guys are."

Pandora-Gilboa hit 16 of its 35 shots (45%), but were out-rebounded 35-28. Ottoville also won the turnover battle 17-12.

In Friday night's district final, Pandora-Gilboa matches up with Delphos St. John's for the second time this season. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. back at the Elida Fieldhouse, and the winner advances to the Bowling Green regional tournament.

"We're welcoming the opportunity we have with St. John's on Friday night. We know what's in front of us and we'll have our hands full. That's the way a district championship should be."

St. John's beat Pandora-Gilboa 57-48 when the two teams met in January.

Pandora-Gilboa 53, Ottoville 48

Score by quarters:

Pandora-Gilboa 18 15 9 11 — 53

Ottoville 10 15 8 15 — 48


Aiden Harris 21, Owen Huffman 8, Aidan Morris 7, Colin Harris 6, Zach Neuenschwander 5, Nate Walker 3, Nate Maag 3, Totals: 16-16-53


Landon Horstman 24, Michael Turnwald 10, Keaton Schnipke 7, Jace Langhals 3, Garrett Trentman 2, Adam Brinkman 2, Totals: 16-13-48

Three-point goals P-G — A. Harris 3, Maag 1, Neuenschwander 1; OV — Horstman 1, Turnwald 1, Schnipke 1.

Records — Pandora-Gilboa 22-2; Ottoville 16-6

Reach Chris Howell at 567-242-0468 or on Twitter at @Lima_Howell