By MICHAEL BURWELL
ELIDA — Ottoville threw a huge first punch at Hopewell-Loudon on Thursday. Although the Chieftains bounced back, it was too much for them to overcome.
Ottoville forced 11 turnovers in the first quarter and jumped out to a 29-6 lead early in the second en route to knocking off the Chieftains 62-46 in a Division IV girls regional semifinal at the Elida Fieldhouse.
“You always want a real good start when it comes out to it, and I thought we were very good with the ball in the first half finding the open people, getting the steals, etcetera,” Ottoville coach Dave Kleman said. “Give them credit for bouncing back and coming back in the second half, you don’t make it to regionals and not be good enough to do something like that.
“They have a real nice team, we do, too, and survive and advance, baby.”
The Big Green (25-2), a state semifinalist a year ago, will face a familiar foe in Putnam County League-rival Leipsic at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Elida. The Vikings (23-3) reached their first regional final in school history with a 55-43 win over Wayne Trace in the first game Thursday at Elida.
Ottoville knocked off Leipsic 38-26 on Feb. 3 to win the outright PCL title. The Big Green used a 14-0 fourth-quarter advantage to get the win.
Ottoville’s full-court defensive pressure stymied the Chieftains (22-5), who had 16 turnovers in the first half and 23 for the game.
Ottoville senior C.J. Kemper scored a game-high 20 points, while classmate Bridget Landin added 16 points. Both players had a team-high five rebounds.
Six Ottoville players scored in the first quarter to give the Big Green a 24-6 lead. Haley Hoersten and Landin scored off turnovers, and Landin found Amber Miller for a transition bucket as well.
Landin added a 3-pointer and an inbounds score off Kasey Knippen’s pass, and Miller’s putback in the final second capped off a strong first quarter for the Big Green.
“I tried to settle them down, it was more the experience of being here than anything else,” Hopewell-Loudon coach Bob Gase said. “It showed up the first quarter.
“We won the second quarter, then we had to start taking some chances to get back in the game and they’re a good team. When you take chances, a good team’s going to burn you every once in a while, and they did. The girls never gave up and they kept on fighting.”
Hopewell-Loudon forced Ottoville’s first turnover with just more than five minutes left in the second quarter.
Six Ottoville turnovers later, the Chieftains were able to trim their deficit in half. In the final minute of the half, Hailey Coppus had a 3-point play off an Ottoville turnover and Jacque Burns added a 3-point play after scoring off her own miss as Hopewell-Loudon pulled within 32-20 with 20 seconds left.
“We got together and played our basketball instead of theirs,” Gase said. “We got a little smarter. The biggest thing is that we slowed down a little bit and didn’t get in a hurry.”
Kemper’s bucket gave Ottoville a 34-20 halftime lead.
The Chieftains, despite limiting their turnovers, couldn’t pull closer than 12 points in the second half.
Hopewell-Loudon’s MaKayla Elmore, a 6-foot-4 freshman, led the Chieftains with 14 points, 11 in the second half, and added five rebounds. Her layup after grabbing a defensive rebound and cut for two off Kenadee Siebernaller’s pass trimmed Ottoville’s lead to 38-24 early in the third quarter.
Ottoville’s game plan defensively was to try to get Hopewell-Loudon out of its half-court offense and limit Elmore’s touches.
“We did not want them to get in too much of a half-court set so they could find ways of getting her the ball, because she is the real deal,” said Kleman, who eclipsed the 500-win mark in his 26th season as head coach in mid-February. “She is going to be, in my opinion, a big-time recruit here for some college and I don’t mean mid-major, either. I mean big school.”
Elmore’s putback and Olivia Zender’s free throw cut the Chieftains’ deficit to 54-42 with 3:08 left, but Ottoville responded on its next possession as Landin found Kemper for two in the paint.
Jacque Burns had nine points, Siebenaller added eight points and a game-high six rebounds and Coppus scored seven for Hopewell-Loudon. The Chieftains shot just 41 percent (14 of 34) from the floor and were 61 percent (14 of 23) from the free-throw line.
Miller added eight points and four boards for Ottoville, while shot 46 percent (22 of 48) and 71 percent (15 of 21) from the floor and line, respectively.
Elmore 5-3–14, Burns 3-2–9, Siebenaller 2-4–8, Coppus 2-2–7, Zender 1-3–6, Krupp 1-0–2, Pace 0-0–0. TOTALS: 14-34 14-23 — 46.
Kemper 6-7–20, B. Landin 7-1–16, Miller 2-4–8, Schlagbaum 1-1–4, Knippen 1-2–4, Hoersten 2-0–4, Hilvers 2-0–4, Hanneman 1-0–2, E. Landin 0-0–0. TOTALS: 22-48 15-21 “” 62.
Hopewell-Loudon 6 14 11 15 — 46
Ottoville 24 10 13 15 — 62
3-POINT GOALS: Hopewell-Loudon 4-9 (Zender, Elmore, Burns & Coppus 1); Ottoville 3-15 (Kemper, B. Landin & Schlagbaum 1).
REBOUNDS: Hopewell-Loudon 26 (Siebenaller 6); Ottoville 28 (Kemper & B. Landin 5).
TURNOVERS: Hopewell-Loudon 23, Ottoville 13.
Send an E-mail to Mike Burwell