COLUMBUS — The hole was just too deep to climb out from.
Down 20 points late in the third quarter of their Division III state semifinal contest on Thursday night in the late game at Ohio State’s Value City Arena, the Titans of Ottawa-Glandorf fought back to get within five points late in the fourth quarter.
They couldn’t climb back any further.
Unfortunately for the O-G faithful, they had to witness the Trojans of Portsmouth celebrate a 74-66 victory that brought an end to O-G’s season, two wins short of a state title. After leading 17-16 after one quarter of play, it all fell apart in the second quarter for the Titans.
When the halftime horn had sounded at The Schottenstein Center, Portsmouth had outscored the Titans 25-9 in the second eight minutes to take a 41-26 lead into the locker room.
“In the second quarter we had some miscommunication and they shot it well,” said Ottawa-Glandorf first-year mentor Tyson McGlaughlin. “They made the extra pass, and when you shoot it well and defend like they do, it makes it tough.”
Portsmouth head coach Eugene Collins admitted that it was all about going on the attack offensively.
“We wanted to test whether they could guard us or not,” said Collins. “Once we were able to get around them, Wayne (Evans) found Jayllen (Carter) on a spot-up and then (Len) Collins hit a three when Wayne found him. It just really opened things up for us.”
So how good were the Trojans in the first half?
Portsmouth shot a sizzling 15-of-25 from the floor (60 percent).
Included in that shooting display was a 6-of-10 performance from beyond the 3-point line (60 percent).
The Trojans also hit 5-of-6 free throws (83.3 percent).
Guard Jayllen Carter (6-0 senior), who came into the game averaging 8.3 points per game, had scored 12 points on his way to a team-leading 23-point night. Carter hit all three of his shots from beyond the arc in the first 16 minutes.
Guard Wayne Evans (6-1, senior) had seven assists in the first half on the way to a 10-dime night for Portsmouth.
Despite a valiant effort late and a huge game from John Lammers (5-8, senior), who scored 19 points off the bench, it wasn’t meant to be for the Titans. Ottawa-Glandorf came to Columbus for the sixth time in school history and off two straight state championship efforts in both 2004 and 2008, but on Thursday, the Trojans were the better team.
“We knew they were too good a team not to make a run at us,” said Collins. “I was disappointed in the fourth quarter how we handled their pressure, but we were able to right the ship there late and get out of here with a win.”
Although the ride ended on Thursday night for the Titans, McGlaughlin was more than proud of his kids when that buzzer signaled the end of the game.
“There was a four-and-a-half minute stretch in the second quarter where we weren’t O-G. It’s just unfortunate,” concluded McGlaughlin. “We understand our guys are not the greatest basketball players out there, but you won’t find guys who fight like ours do. It speaks volumes about their heart and work ethic.”