Tigers fall in overtime
COLUMBUS -- Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin had a simple game plan Thursday for Ironton in the Division III semifinals of the 91st Ohio High School State Boys Basketball Tournament at Value City Arena inside Ohio State's Schottenstein Center.
The plan was to rebound the basketball and make the morning as miserable as possible for Zac Carter, the All-Ohio first team guard for the Fighting Tigers.
All season long, Carter had done in opponent after opponent with his scoring prowess from slashing drives to the basket, pull-up shots on the way to the basket or deadly accuracy from outside regardless of whether the senior was behind or past the 3-point line.
"Carter wasn't going to beat us," McGlaughlin said.
McGlaughlin turned to guard Matt Kaufman to shadow Carter and the plan had merit. Carter, who had not practiced during the week because of a thigh bruise suffered last Saturday in the Region III final against Oak Hill in Athens, made just 4 of 16 shots -- 2 of 8 from behind the arc -- and finished with 12 points (half his season average) to go along with four turnovers.
Still it took a final-minute surge by the Titans in the fourth period to rally from six points down (54-48) with 56 seconds left and tie the game 55-55 on a layup by Kaufman, who else, with 0.9 seconds left that forced overtime. The Titans then got a free throw from T.J. Metzger with one second left in overtime to give them a 61-60 victory. That sent Ottawa-Glandorf faithful in the crowd of 10,742 to the box office to purchase tickets for Saturday's title game.
"Contain Carter and rebound," an elated McGlaughlin said in the post-game visit with the media. "We didn't do a good job of that (rebounding). Late we did. You can't question the guys' heart. Talent wise they might not be the best, but they expect to win. I don't care how they get it done. I'm proud of their effort."
"I take pride in defense," Kaufman said. "He's a great player. He's going to get his shots. I tried to disrupt him."
"You can't put a value on what he does," McGlaughlin said of Kaufman. "He's that glue. If we don't have No. 4, we're not here playing."
Carter said the Titans challenged him all game long.
"They're so long," he said of the defenders. "They're hard to get around. Every shot was contested."
Almost forgotten in the talk about defense was Kaufman's basket that forced overtime.
"They picked up the pressure," Kaufman said of Ironton's defense. "I got the ball, looked for an opening. No one was in the paint. I was surprised. It was almost too easy."
In practices leading up to Thursday's game McGlaughlin kept reminding his team that Carter ranked near the top of the list of players they'd seen during the season.
"I wanted to get the guys used to the challenge," he said. "We knew he's a major part of the game. If he gets 25, we watch the rest of the weekend. We didn't want to give him easy layups early. We knew they'd react to what we do, that it wouldn't work for 32 minutes. It did in spurts. We were able to change the way they attack. We wanted their guys to get the ball where they're not comfortable."
Ironton coach Mark LaFon knew the Titans would attempt to take away options. Having 6-foot-4 Trevor White get in foul trouble didn't help.
"Take away Zac, the inside game or both," LaFon said. "They didn't let Zac have many good looks. With Trevor in foul trouble, that changed our defensive look. We're more guard oriented."
The Titans (25-3) will play Versailles at 10:30 a.m. Saturday with a chance for their first title since 2008 and third overall. Versailles beat Leavittsburg LaBrae, 63-52, in the second semifinal.
Metzger, a first-team All-Ohio selection like Carter, led the Titans with 25 points. He got fouled on a drive to the basket with a second left to get two free throws. He missed the first, but made the second and that ended Ironton's winning streak at 17.
"I don't think I have legs now," Metzger said. "The first shot was short. My body started to shake a little. I had to focus and make the second. It went in and my teammates then played good defense."
Ottawa-Glandorf started the late fourth-period rally when Caleb Siefker got fouled by White (his fifth) on a 3-point attempt with 41 seconds left and hit all three. After a turnover, Siefker made a layup to cut the deficit to 54-53. Ironton's Trey Fletcher made one of two free throws with 27 seconds to go and that set the stage for Kaufman's game-tying layup. Fletcher, a senior, made 11 of 15 shots and scored a game-high 27 points to go along with a game-high 15 rebounds.
"There was a little panic, the game getting away," McGlaughlin said. "You could see desperation in our eyes. Those three free throws were huge. The relief Ironton had, the pressure was back on them. We've been here. I had confidence. Get a stop or two and we're back in it."
LaFon said it was a case of the Fighting Tigers (23-3) not making plays when it counted.
"We didn't take care of things the way we need to," he said. "We didn't handle the ball. I don't know how else to describe it."
LaFon said being on the big stage didn't create any added pressure.
"It didn't matter if it was a gym in northern Ohio or southeast Ohio," LaFaon said. "The kids handled the big stage well, not perfect. It came down to who makes plays at the end. They did. That was the difference."
OTTAWA-GLANDORF 12 16 13 4 6 -- 61: Kaufman 5-8 1-1 11, Rosebrock 3-13 2-2 8, ,Siefker 1-4 3-3 5, Bramlage 4-11 0-1 8, Metzger 7-14 7-14 25, Westrick 0-1 0-0 0, Von Sossan 0-1 0-0 0, Leopold 1-2 2-2 4. Totals: 21-54 15-23 61.
IRONTON 19 9 10 17 5 -- 60: Carter 4-16 2-3 12, Glover 0-0 2-2 2, White 3-3 8-10 14, Fletcher 11-15 4-6 27, Stephens 1-4 0-0 2, Boykin 0-2 0-0 0, Bowling 0-1 0-0 0, Long 0-0 0-0 0, Cox 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 20-42 16-21 60.
3-point baskets: O-G 4-13 (Metzger 4-10, Siefker 0-2, Von Sossan 0-1). I 4-14 (Carter 2-8, Fletcher 1-3, Boykin 0-1, Bowling 0-1, Cox 1-1). Rebounds: O-G 27 (Rosebrock 9). I 34 (Fletcher 13). Attendance: 10,742.