BOWLING GREEN — For the third straight year, Ottawa-Glandorf and Lima Central Catholic will meet in the Division III regionals at the Stroh Center on the campus of Bowling Green State University.
That third matchup will take place tonight as the Titans and T-Birds square off in the Division III regional finals at 7 p.m. The winner of this game will advance to the Division III state semi-finals next Friday at The Ohio State University. O-G enters the game with a 16-10 record, while LCC is 22-4.
Although the two teams meet regularly during the regular season, they have become post-season opponents on a regular basis recently.
Last season, the Titans and T-Birds met in the regional semi-finals at BGSU with O-G claiming a 60-52 on their way to a Division III state championship. In 2012, the two teams met in the Division III regional finals with the Titans coming out on top 44-38 to earn a trip to the state semi-finals in Division III.
Before their regional meetings, the Titans and T-Birds met in the district finals at Elida twice with the teams splitting two matchups.
While the Titans dropped their final three regular season games this season, they have won four straight in the tournament to come within a game of advancing to state. In the tournament, the Titans have defeated Bluffton, Archbold, Paulding and Huron. The win over Huron came Thursday evening as the Titans jumped out to an early lead in posting a 63-45 win over the Tigers at Ohio Northern University. The Titans wins over Archbold and Paulding came at the Stroh Center in two very low scoring, close games as the Titans were forced to come up with fourth quarter rallies for the win.
Noah Bramlage led the Titans Thursday evening with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Zach Kuhlman had 14 points and eight rebounds and Tyler Zender chipped in with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Lima Central Catholic advanced to the regional finals with a 64-37 win over Worthington Christian in the first game at Ada Thursday.
Senior Martyce Kimbrough led the T-Birds with 18 points as he went the 1,000 point mark for his high school career during the win over Worthington. Sophomore guard Xavier Simpson followed with 14 points and seven assists and sophomore Tre Cobbs had 13 points.
The T-Birds won the regular season matchup this year back in December 64-44 at LCC on a Sunday evening. However, O-G is a different team from that game as they were in the process of replacing four starters and eight seniors from last year's state championship team. A big second quarter by the T-Birds helped them to the win.
“We understand LCC is a very, very good team and every time we play them it's a heck of a game,” O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin said. “We are playing for a regional title and if you are playing for a regional title you are doing something good. We are going to stick to our game plan, we are going to play our game and see what happens.”
Although the Titans finished the season with three losses, two of those losses came against very good opponents in Perrysburg, a two point loss after leading late in the contest, then to Western Buckeye League foe Bath when the Wildcats closed out the game strong after the Titans pulled within a basket or two. Perrysburg played in the district finals this year and Bath is playing for a Division II regional title today at BG at 3 p.m.
“I think a lot of it has to do with chemistry,” McGlaughlin said. “At the beginning of the year, we had a lot of pieces we had to put together. But our guys have only gotten better. We did lose our last three games, but two of those losses were to Perrysburg and Lima Bath. Those were two very, very good teams and we were right there with both of them with two minutes to go.”
“Physically we were playing hard enough. Mentally, we were making msucues. We kept telling the guys, 'We were right there. We were right there.' But like anything else, you can only say that so many times, you need to see some results and we've had the opportunity to get some close wins, build that confidence and get those results. They are different kids right now from when we started, McGlaughlin added.