COLUMBUS - A memorable run to the state tournament came to an end for Ottawa-Glandorf on Thursday night with a 74-66 loss to Portsmouth in the Division III semifinals.
But in typical O-G fashion, it didn’t happen without a fight.
All but out of the game down 20 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, O-G battled back only to fall short in a quest to advance to Saturday’s final against Cincinnati Summit Country Day.
“I can’t say enough about the fourth quarter,” O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin said. “We still felt we were there. We knew we’d make a run, but we’d like to have made it in the third.”
The Titans closed out the third quarter on a 7-2 run to pull within 55-40 only to see Portsmouth score on six of its first seven possessions of the fourth period to take a 66-49 advantage with 4:53 to go following a Zaide Whitley layup on a pass from Wayne Evans, one of 10 assists by the 6-1 senior.
“We got caught up a lot on penetration with ball screens,” McGlaughlin explained. “Usually we go under (the screen) but when he got a step on us he was able to hit a shot or find a teammate. Our rotation was not very good.”
Still, the Titans weren’t done thanks to a valiant effort by John Lammers. The 5-8 senior scored 10 straight O-G points, hitting pair of 3-balls and four foul shots. When fellow senior Logan Koch knocked down a jumper, the deficit was suddenly down to seven at 68-61 with 2:10 left.
“He’s one of those guys that plays with heart,” McGlaughlin said of Lammers. “The kids just plays his tail off.”
Lammers, who came in averaging 4.7 points per game, had a team-high 19 points for the Titans, hitting 4-of-8 triples and 5-of-6 free throws.
“I was just trying to get the team back in the game,” Lammers said modestly. “That’s what you expect out of a senior on the team.”
Portsmouth turned the ball over five times in a span of three minutes to help the O-G comeback.
“I was not satisfied how we finished,” Portsmouth coach Gene Collins said. “We had unnecessary turnovers and we had guys open that didn’t hit shots when they needed to.”
The Titans got as close as five points at 71-66 with 27 seconds to play following a Koch putback and two at the charity stripe by T.J. Metzger.
Jayllen Carter, however, iced the game for the Trojans with a pair of foul shots five seconds later to close out the season for O-G at 19-7 while moving Portsmouth to 24-2.
“Playing here last year helped the whole team,” noted Evans, one of three returning starters from a team that was beaten in the state semifinals. “Last year we were surprised to be here, now it’s win state.”
A 19-4 run to open the second quarter gave Portsmouth a big enough lead to get that opportunity to win state, keyed by some red-hot shooting. The Trojans shot 60 percent from the field (15-25) and from the 3-point line (6-10) in the first half.
“It’s been 10 games since we shot like that,” admitted Collins, whose team came in hitting just 28 percent on the season on 3-balls. “When Carter makes shots early that opens us Dion (McKinley). Most double down on Dion.”
The deadly shooting surprised McGlaughlin.
“The plan was to put pressure on, limit touches for McKinley down low and make the others make shots,” the O-G coach explained. “The coach’s decision was not very good tonight.”
Foul difficulties didn’t help matters either, with posts Noah Bramlage and Koch picking up two fouls apiece in the first quarter.
“Early in the game both our bigs got two fouls each,” McGlaughlin said. “The guys that came in played quicker than they normally do. That’s just one of those things with high school basketball.”
Carter tallied 23 points, Evans 22 and McKinley 13 along with 13 boards and five blocked shots to pace the Trojans.
Metzger scored 15 points and Michael Rosebrock 10, all in the first half, for O-G, which lose three seniors to graduation in Lammers, Koch and Isaac Recker.
“The team kept fighting, I thought we grew as a family,” said Metzger. “We’ve got some young talent coming up but it’s too bad we couldn’t get it done for the seniors.”