COLUMBUS – In 2004, Ottawa-Glandorf left Columbus with a Division II boys basketball title. Saturday the Titans will try to do the same with some D-III hardware.
O-G advanced to its third state championship game in history Friday with a 65-57 win over Anna before 14,182 in a D-III state semifinal at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.
The Titans face Sugarcreek Garaway in the D-III final at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.
“That was a tough, tough game,” O-G head coach Josh Leslie said. “We just kept battling. We were able to hang on and beat a very, very solid team. They were as good as anyone we’ve played this year.”
Seniors Justin Schomaeker and Jake Meyer led the O-G attack with 26 and 15 points, respectively. Schomaeker was a thorn in Anna’s side all game long and fittingly earned chants of “You can’t stop him from” the Titans student section. Meyer drained three crucial fourth quarter 3-pointers as the Rockets mounted several comebacks. Meyer scored 11 of his 15 points in the final five minutes after scoring just two in the first half.
“The first half I was struggling a little bit,” Meyer said. “I was pretty much stone cold. When I hit some shots there late I knew I had to keep shooting.”
Said Schomaeker: “Once a guy catches fire you have to get the ball back to them. Any scorer wants that.”
Schomaeker received most of O-G’s passes. The 6-1 forward scored 12 points in the first half and ended the game shooting 13-of-18 from the field. His only weakness – and O-G’s – was free throws.
Schomaeker was 0-for-3 from the line and the Titans made just 5-of-14 as a team (36-percent).
“We hope that doesn’t come back to bite us,” Leslie said. “We hit enough to make things interesting and we miss enough to make things interesting.”
Friday O-G didn’t have to hit free throws to beat Anna.
The game started out horribly for the Rockets and didn’t get much better. Anna missed its first 10 shots and ended the first quarter 1-of-8 from the 3-point line. O-G opened up a 10-0 lead and made enough plays to close out the quarter ahead 16-11.
Anna tied the game 16-16 with 5:22 left in the second quarter, but the Titans responded with a 15-8 run to take a 31-24 advantage into halftime.
“It didn’t hurt getting out to that start we did,” Leslie said. “Obviously when you get out to a start like that it helps out.”
O-G blistered the nets in the first half shooting 14-of-29 from the floor for a clip of 48-percent. Anna on the other hand struggled. The Rockets shot 36-percent from the field (10-of-28) and 25-percent (3-of-12) from 3-point range. Anna also committed 14 turnovers to O-G’s eight.
“I thought the first half we came out and really struggled to take care of the ball,” Anna coach Matt Meyer said. “The second half I thought the kids took care of the ball and played their hearts out.”
In the second half O-G held a 45-38 lead after three quarters. Then Anna went to work.
The Rockets cut the deficit to six points or less seven times in the final eight minutes but never clawed any closer then three (55-52 with 3:39 to go). Each time O-G answered with a basket of its own. Doing most of the damage was Jake Meyer.
“It’s frustrating,” Matt Meyer said. “Every time we got close they stepped up and hit the shots. At the other end we had some open looks that just went in and out and in and out. That’s just the way it goes. The bottom line is we didn’t have quite enough go in the hole. Why? If I knew the answer to that maybe I would have burned another timeout. Lets say just four of those shots go in and it’s a different situation.”
Plenty of shots went in for O-G.
The Titans shot 51-percent from the floor for the game (28-of-55); while Anna hit just 36-percent (22-of-62). The Rockets also hit just 19-percent from beyond the 3-point arc (5-of-26). Anna’s 20 turnovers did it no favors either.
O-G cycled 10 players through the scorers table and all played at least five minutes. Schomaeker and Meyer were the only ones in double-figures, but eight Titans scored.
Anna was led by Joel Naseman’s 14 points. Derek Billing added nine and Zach Clark chipped in eight off the bench.
“To be real honest with you if Anna plays 16 minutes of defense and rebounds (like we did in the second half), we usually win the half by 15 to 20 points,” Meyer said. “Today the ball just didn’t go in. For those of you who haven’t seen us this year we have some kids who can actually stroke it. Sometimes (going cold) happens. Unfortunately it happened in the state semifinal game.”
Said Leslie: “We built the lead by attacking them the entire time. During the timeouts we told them to keep the pedal down and just keep this thing going. The minute we would have let up people would have said we were trying not to lose. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to keep attacking, attacking, attacking.
“We play so much better when we play that style.”