Ottawa-Glandorf's Zach Kuhlman (20) drives the baseline in the Titans game with Van Wert Friday night.
By Charlie Warnimont
Sentinel Sports Editor
OTTAWA - High school basketball can be all about mismatches.Ottawa-Glandorf has one of the better mismatches in the area with 6-7 junior center Noah Bramlage, who can do a little bit of everything. Van Wert attempted to counter this mismatch with their speed, athletic ability and defense. In the end, the Titans used their size to their advantage as they ran away from the Cougars in the fourth quarter for a 60-40 Western Buckeye League win.
O-G is 1-0 in the WBL and 2-1 overall, while Van Wert is 0-1 in the WBL and 2-2 overall.
While O-G had the size advantage, the Cougars were able to stay close for three quarters behind their three-point shooting and defense as Van Wert held the Titans to seven third quarter points. Van Wert drained three three-pointers in the third quarter that helped them overcome a 32-23 halftime deficit to trail 37-34. The Titans pushed that lead to five points at the end of the quarter as Jason Schnipke grabbed an offensive rebound and scored for a 39-34 lead.
The start of the fourth quarter was key for the Titans as they scored three baskets down low in the first minute of the quarter that pushed their lead to 11 points.
Junior Zach Kuhlman scored all three baskets as the Titans posted Bramlage at the three-point line and with the Cougars paying attention to the talented O-G center that left his teammates able to roam the paint and get to the basket for good shots. Bramlage had an assist during Kuhlman's 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter that forced Van Wert to burn a timeout.
"I think high school basketball is about mismatches and being able to execute. Not only finding a mismatch, but being to execute it," Titan coach Tyson McGlaughlin said. "We were able to get some penetration and use Noah as a decoy. (Tyler) Zender posts up very hard. He is very strong and physical and when he goes down low he demands the ball because of the space he creates. They didn't have someone to match him. And when we got that, it allowed Matias Trampe-Kindt and Zach Kuhlman to fill the lanes and get some transition baskets. And Alex Schroeder played really well. I thought our starting five played really well tonight."
Michael Smelser halted the Titan run with a free throw before Trampe-Kindt and Zender scored to extend the O-G lead. Van Wert's Matt Bidlack and O-G's Alex Schroeder traded baskets before Connor Holliday hit a free throw. The Titans then went on a 9-0 run as Bramlage had a two-pointer and a three-pointer, while Schroeder and Zender both scored for what would be the final score.
"They win a lot of games here for a reason," Van Wert coach Mark Bagley said. "We couldn't make shots tonight. Last Friday we made shots and it showed. Tonight we couldn't make shots. Smelser and Holliday have to score for us and tonight they didn't score much. And when those two don't score we struggle to find offense. Tonight I was disappointed fundamentally with some things that happened defensively. That's part of a young team that is growing."
Smelser had just three points for the Cougars, while Holliday had five points, all at the line. Bidlack had a big night for the Cougars with 17 points, which included three three-point goals. Nick Keber added eight points.
Early on Van Wert was able to stay with the Titans as they had a 17-16 lead after one quarter and were up 23-22 midway through the second quarter when the Cougars suffered a dryspell on offense that lasted until the 4:34 mark of the third quarter.
Bidlack had seven first quarter points for the Cougars that included a three-pointer, while Keber and Nathan Stoller dropped in three-pointers to help Van Wert overcome an early 7-2 deficit. Kuhlman had six first quarter points for O-G, while Bramlage and Schroeder both had five points.
Two free throws by Holliday gave the Cougars a 23-22 lead before the Titans closed the half with a 10-0 run as Kuhlman had five points, Bramlage a three point play and Schroeder had a layup off a Van Wert turnover.
Kuhlman led the Titans with 17 points, while Bramlage had 14 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots. Zender had eight points and nine rebounds in the win. The Titans had a 31-15 rebounding edge which also hampered the Cougars as they were not able to grab defensive rebounds and run as much as they wanted.
"We had to play a really good game to win tonight. At times we competed really well and we did a lot of good things, but it wasn't sustained. We didn't finish possessions. We didn't finish quarters well and against a team like that you can't do that. I think we got tired and we tried to sub a lot, but in this kind of atmosphere in the WBL, it's different and some of our guys were experiencing that for the first time," Bagley concluded.
* * *
Van Wert 12-37 8-12 40: Henry 1-0-2; Smelser 1-1-3; Stoller 2-0-5; Keber 3-0-8; Bidlack 6-2-17; Holliday 0-5-5; Myers 0-0-0.
Ottawa-Glandorf 25-47 6-8 60: A. Schroeder 6-0-13; Schnipke 1-2-4; Wischmeyer 0-0-0; Trampe-Kindt 2-0-4; Kuhlman 7-0-17; Recker 0-0-0; Zender 4-0-8; Bramlage 5-2-14.
Van Wert 17 6 11 6 - 40
Ottawa-Glandorf 16 16 7 21 - 60
Junior Varsity: Ottawa-Glandorf 56-47.
Three-point goals: Van Wert 6-17 (Bidlack 3, Keber 2, Stoller 1); Ottawa-Glandorf 4-11 (Bramlage 2, Kuhlman 1, A. Schroeder 1).
Rebounds: Van Wert 15; Ottawa-Glandorf 31 (Bramlage 15, Zender 9).
Turnovers: Van Wert 10, Ottawa-Glandorf 12.