schools in the state, lost 52-49 to Putnam County League rival
Ottoville after an unsuccessful attempt to erase an 11-point fourth
quarter deficit. Fort Jennings struggled against Ottoville's zone defense.
His Fort Jennings Musketeers, traditionally one of the better small schools in the state, lost 52-49 to Putnam County League rival Ottoville after an unsuccessful attempt to erase an 11-point fourth quarter deficit.
Fort Jennings struggled against Ottoville's zone defense, and in the end, that was one of the big difference makers on the night.
“I expected them to play zone, but I don't think (Ottoville coach) Tom (Von Sossan) thought they'd play it so much,” the elder Von Sossan said. “We had no patience against it. They got our big men out of position and we didn't hit much of anything from the outside.”
Fort Jennings (9-7) indeed struggled to shoot the ball, particularly from beyond the arc.
The Musketeers, who won a Division IV state championship in 2000, were just 1-of-17 from 3-point range. They were 23-of-44 overall.
The win improved Ottoville to 5-11.
“We struggled to get into a rhythm, but we need to keep working at shooting well against zone defenses because I'm sure we are going to see more of it as the season continues,” Von Sossan said. “We usually don't shoot the ball too badly from the outside. We need to be able to shoot well to be successful. We have to work harder at it in practice.”
The Musketeers, who were just 12-13 a year ago but still managed to advance to the regional, returned four letterwinners this season.
One of the key returnees for the team is senior captain Derek Geise. Geise faced double, and sometimes even triple teams against Ottoville Tuesday, but still scored 12 points.
His putback with seven seconds left cut Fort Jennings' lead to 50-49 but the Big Green hit a pair of free throws to seal the deal.
“Geise has played well for us this year,” Von Sossan said. “He's one of our most experienced players and we need him to perform well every night. Defenses focus on slowing him down but fortunately we have others who can step up, too.”
Junior Center Troy Warnecke is one of those players who has the ability to take his game to another level. Against Ottoville, he dropped in 15 points.
Fort Jennings has two games remaining, both non-conference. The Musketeers play Delphos Jefferson Saturday night and host McComb next Tuesday.
“We want to try and finish the season strong before the tournament starts,” Von Sossan said. “We have to improve on both ends of the floor and stay focused. If we can make improvements, we have a chance to do well in the playoffs.”