BY BRIAN BASSETT
DHI Correspondent
VAN WERT - When hosting Division III No. 6 Ottawa-Glandorf Friday evening at the Cougars' Den, Van Wert elected to slow the tempo way down.

The plan worked for a majority of the game, but the Titans converted 4-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 44-28 win.

The Cougars (11-11, 3-6) came out eating plenty of clock in their offensive sets to try to slow the game down. O-G (19-3, 7-2) only took 31 shots on the night, and Van Wert put up 34.

"Those are hard games to play in," said Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin. "It's one of those things, for Van Wert, it's not something they do, typically. They thought that was their opportunity to get us out of what we wanted to do."

Van Wert coach Dave Froelich agreed that the style is atypical of the Cougars, but with 1:13 to play in the third quarter, Van Wert trailed by only two.

"I hate playing like that, but we were trying to do enough to hang around and give ourselves a chance. We had it right there. It's not how we really like to play but it kept them off balance a little bit and kept us around.

"We just have to finish it out. When we run a set and get an open shot, we have to make that shot. We just didn't do that consistently tonight," Froelich said.

The Cougars shot 11-of-33 from the field (33 percent) and only 1-of-7 from three-point range.

The glaring stat was that senior forward A.J. Smith, Van Wert's top scorer who averages 15.4 points per game, scored only one point on the night, on 0-of-6 shooting.

"Our key was we didn't want him to shoot the ball," McGlaughlin explained of defending Smith. "I don't know how many shots he got, he didn't get many up. We really wanted to try to minimize his penetration. We thought by taking Smith out of the game, we'll take our chances at that point."

Sophomore guard Connor Holliday, who had a team-high 11 points, picked up some of the slack, scoring seven first-half points for Van Wert to keep the Cougars close.

In that same span sophomore forward Noah Bramlage had five points to top O-G, which held a 20-19 lead that the break.

Bramlage topped the Titans with 10 points and eight rebounds. Bramlage's most important basket of the game came with time expiring in the third period, when he nailed a three to extend a two-point O-G lead to five after three quarters.

"That was a huge play for us. Noah has the capability to do that. Noah is going to be a special player. He has that capability every night... Noah mad some plays, and that one was big for us," McGlaughlin said.

Froelich also pointed to the swing at the end of the third quarter.

"The story of the game was at the end of the third quarter when it was a five-point possession swing. We should have probably been down two or tied. We missed a shot then fouled and it snowballed on us. Then we just lost focus for a period of time. (O-G) got a lead and took advantage."

The Titans took advantage by not missing a shot in the final frame. Meanwhile Van Wert went 1-of-7 from the floor and 0-of-2 from the foul line.

The lopsided fourth ended with the final score of 44-28.

The Tians shot 15-of-31 from the field (48 percent) including a 6-of-9 (67 percent) clip from long range range.

"Overall, other than about three possessions in the fourth where we lost our assignments, (we did a good job, defensively). You keep then in the 40s, you like to think you have a chance," said Froelich.

Bramlage was the onlt Titan in double figures, though eight O-G players scored.

Senior guard Caleb Siefker and senior forward Michael Rosebrock each added eight. Senior guard T.J. Metzger added five points while battling fourl trouble much of the night.

"It was a big win for us," McGlaughlin said. "It shows our guys that we can adjust to different styles.

"You look at our schedule and the last four games; Leipsic averages 70 points and goes up and down the floor, Bath is very good. Then we played Perrysburg, who plays a bunch of different types of zones - they're long and physical. Then a slow-down game (tonight)."

The Titan coach believes the tough tests recently will help his team in the tournament, which it opens Friday, March 1 against the winner of Hicksville and Fairview at Defiance.

"We've faced lots of different styles from very good teams. When you have that and have success against it, I think it builds you confidence," McGlaughlin concluded.

The Cougars turn around to open tournament play Wednesday when they play WBL Co-Champion Elida at Lime Senior.

"Obviously Elida is an excellent team with one of the best players in Ohio. We'll take a few minutes and try to regroup. We'll try to come up with something that gives our kids a chance. We know it's a tough task," added Froelich.

OTTAWA-GLANDORF (2pt. 3pt. FT Pts.)

Metzger 0-1 1-1 2-2 5, Bramlage 3-8 1-1 1-2 10, Siefker 1-1 2-4 0-0 8, Rosebrock 3-8 0-0 2-2 8, Leopold 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, Kaufman 1-2 0-1 3-4 5, Westrick 1-1 0-0 0-0 2, Von Sossan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Beckman 0-0 1-1 0-0 3, Schroeder 0-0 1-1 0-0 3.

VAN WERT

Markward 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-5 0-1 1-2 1, Stoller 0-0 0-1 0-0 0, Hurless 2-7 0-1 2-4 6, K. Keber 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Bidlack 3-5 0-1 0-0 6, Holliday 3-6 1-4 2-3 11, Wolford 2-3 0-0 0-0 4.

Ottawa-Glandorf 11 9 11 13 - 44

Van Wert 8 11 7 2 - 28