COLUMBUS – Ottawa-Glandorf may not have boasted any All-Ohio players, but senior forward Jake Meyer certainly played like he deserved such prestigious recognition in the Division III basketball state championship.
Scoring 21 points off the bench, Meyer led the Titans to a 62-44 win over Sugarcreek Garaway on Saturday at the 86th Annual Boys Basketball Tournament at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center. A crowd of 13,371 saw O-G win its second state title in school history and first since 2004.
“I’m overwhelmed right now,” Meyer said. “It’s everything I dreamed. You dream it as a little kid. I can’t even describe it.”
While Meyer may not start for O-G, he plays a key role for the Titans and saw 22 minutes in the championship game.
“I think it says a lot about him as one of our seniors,” O-G head coach Josh Leslie said. “He plays starter minutes. We catch (opponents) subbing in guys just trying to get through the first few minutes and we’re subbing in to score.”
Garaway’s only lead in the game came in the opening minutes on a Paul Honigford free throw but O-G went on a 13-0 run and the Pirates quickly found themselves down 12.
“We obviously got off to a good start and we feel if we can get up on teams early and play the way we want to play, that’s a big key for us,” Leslie said. “If we make teams play from behind the entire time like that, we’re tough to beat.”
O-G (23-5) led 18-12 after the first frame and continued to add to its lead by disrupting Garaway’s game plan with full court pressure and trapping in the half court.
“If you let (Garaway’s) guys catch and shoot, they’ll kill you,” said Leslie. “We used our length and athleticism to push them out on the floor and have them catch it where they aren’t comfortable shooting in it. We were fortunate enough turn them over early in the game and actually build a lead.”
Garaway (24-4) committed 13 turnovers in the first half and had 19 for the game.
“I think their pressure early bothered us and it took us a while to adjust,” Garaway head coach Dave Shutt said. “Hats off to them. They’re athletic, they’re great athletes and their depth kind of bothered us a little bit.”
Garaway netted just eight points in the third quarter as O-G took a 49-31 lead into the fourth.
Both teams scored 13 points in the fourth quarter – O-G’s lowest scoring quarter on the night and Garaway’s highest – as the Titans players and fans began to celebrate the championship with about two minutes left.
“The expectation is up there and (O-G) is a great basketball town,” said Leslie. “You can’t imagine what its going to be like when we get back home tonight.”
Forward Justin Schomaeker added 15 points and four assists for O-G.
“I was an eighth grader when (O-G won the 2004 state title) and I remember coming down and watching,” Schomaeker said. “That is what you look up to when you’re younger. You want to emulate them. Its amazing to say we’re state champs just like they were.”
Honigford had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds for Garaway and guard Tyler Gerber tallied 15 points.
“I didn’t’ think we adjusted real well early and we panicked,” said Gerber, the Division III co-player of the year. “We never got into the flow until the second half and against a good team like that you can’t take that long to adjust to the pressure.”
O-G shot 56-percent from the floor and held Garaway to just 34-percent, including a dismal eight-percent from 3-point land on 1-of-13 shooting.
“I think (O-G) knew we could shoot the three pretty well as a team and they tried to limit me to as little touches as possible,” Gerber said.
Garaway's 44 points was the Pirates lowest scoring output of the season and the loss snapped a 10-game winning streak.