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Girls basketball: O-G earns trip to state with strong defense

Mar. 9—ELIDA — For Ottawa-Glandorf's girls basketball team, revenge looks like allowing just five points in the second half.

Revenge looks like holding a team to just 12% shooting in the final 16 minutes.

Revenge looks like swinging the net around in the air, collectively screaming and celebrating the Titans' first trip to the state tournament since 2021. Ottawa-Glandorf earned a 45-26 victory against Margaretta in the Division III regional final Saturday night at Elida Fieldhouse.

"We've had 36-30 on our bulletin board the whole season," Ottawa-Glandorf coach Troy Yant said, referring to last year's score, when Margaretta beat the Titans in the regional finals and went to the state tourney. "They wanted to get that monkey off their back. I think I might have mentioned last week that I felt like we were good enough to go to state last year, so not getting there was disappointing. The challenge, especially with Katie (Kaufman) and Myka (Aldrich), was to do everything we can to carry this team."

Now the Titans (25-2) are headed to the state tournament for the sixth time, all of them since 2015. They'll face Portsmouth, a 42-25 winner against North Adams, at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the University of Dayton in the state semifinals.

Ottawa-Glandorf, ranked No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll, didn't take long to assert its dominance in the third quarter against the No. 5-ranked Polar Bears. The Titans led by just five points at halftime, thanks in part to Carlie Brinkman's 3-pointer with 2:10 remaining that repelled Margaretta, which tied the game at 18.

Then Ottawa-Glandorf held Margaretta (25-3) to just two points in the third quarter while rolling off nine points of their own. The Titans held the Polar Bears 24 points under their season average for points scored. It marked the fifth time in the last six games the Titans allowed fewer than 30 points in a game.

"We saw revenge in the eyes of the Ottawa-Glandorf girls," said Margaretta coach Ray Neill, who shared all-Northwest District coach of the year honors with Yant this year. "You could see it, feel it. Their physical strength and in addition their mental strength tonight was exceptional."

Kaufman, a senior and first-team all-Northwest District selection, had a team-high 16 points to go with six rebounds. She scored many of those baskets by dribbling baseline straight at Margaretta's Cassidy Lane, who already had her second foul just four minutes into the game.

"I knew that if I attacked her, she would either foul me, which would benefit our team, or she would let me go to the rim, which would be better production either way," Kaufman said. "So if I saw an opening, I tried to take it, and I wasn't going to try to force it either because that creates turnovers."

Karsyn Erford, a sophomore second-team All-Northwest District pick, added 13 points for the Titans. She and Kaufman each had three blocks to help discourage the Polar Bears' comeback hopes.

Raegan Heck led Margaretta with 11 points, including three 3-pointers, but two of those were in the first quarter. Ellyse Schaeffer added 10 points. The Titans effectively shut down point guard Lilly Edwards, who only had one point Saturday despite averaging 6.9 points per game.

The Titans also out-rebounded Margaretta, 33-20, thanks in part to Kaitlynn Kimmet's nine defensive rebounds, which helped with the defensive dominance.

"It's a lot of focus — focus in practice, focus in the gym tonight, and focus all throughout the game," Kimmet said. "We believe in each other."

That belief is a big part of why the Titans are back in the state's final four for the first time since Kaufman's freshman year.

"It feels amazing," Kaufman said. "We've worked so hard all four years. My sophomore and my junior years, we just missed opportunities. We were so close. We should've been there, but we missed opportunities. Our coaches reinforced that this year we were not going to miss our opportunity. We took full advantage of what we were getting today."

Ottawa-Glandorf 45, Margaretta 26

Ottawa-Glandorf 12 14 9 9 — 45

Margaretta 8 13 2 3 — 26

OTTAWA-GLANDORF

Alivia Grothause 4, Karsyn Erford 13, Carlie Brinkman 6, Katie Kaufman 16, Myka Aldrich 4, Kaitlyn Kimmet 2. Totals: 16-12-45.

MARGARETTA

Lilly Edwards 1, Ellyse Schaefer 10, Dani Grunden 4, Raegen Heck 11. Totals: 9-3-26.

3-pointers: O-G-Brinkman 1; M-Heck 3, Schaefer 2.

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.