VAN WERT — Trailing by 16 with less than a minute to play in the third period, things didn't look good for the Ottoville Big Green on Tuesday night.
Lincolnview had possession of the ball and a 49-33 lead on the scoreboard in the Division IV boys sectional held at Van Wert High School.
An opportune defensive stop for the Big Green wound up jump-starting a furious comeback that ended with a thrilling 70-66 overtime win for Ottoville.
"I'm not real sure what all just happened here," joked Ottoville head coach Todd Turnwald after the win.
What happened, was Brandt Landin's driving layup that became a three-point play with 55 seconds to play in the third. That effort put a halt to an 11-0 run by the Lancers, with all 11 coming from junior wing Justis Dowdy.
"Justis played a really good game," noted Lancer head coach Brett Hammons. "He rebounded for us, he was aggressive, he found some open men in the first half, and then we ran some plays for him, to get him shots in the second (half), and he executed for us."
A Lancer turnover with under 10 seconds to play in the period proved costly as Ottoville's Tyler Roby score on a lob underneath as time expired in the period. Suddenly, an insurmountable deficit was much more in range, as the Big Green trailed by a 49-38 score headed to the fourth.
Ottoville continued the comeback with a Kyle Bendele hoop and Landin drained a 3-pointer to make it a 10-0 Big Green run and a 49-43 scoreboard.
Dowdy stemmed the tide with a baseline drive and lay-in, but the Lancers' offense lost rhythm versus an attacking Ottoville trap.
"We were pulling out everything we could defensively, which, in our program, we don't do that," Turnwald said of his defensive changes made down the stretch. "The press helped us. It got us back in the game and we made some good plays. It got them maybe out of rhythm a little bit."
Lincolnview lead 56-46 with 3:08 on the fourth quarter clock, but from that point forward missed six consecutive free throws, including the front-end of two one-and-ones.
It was an opportunity the Big Green didn't let slide.
Roby knocked down a step-back three with a Lincolnview defender in his face, then Landin followed with a 3-pointer of his own. With 55 seconds to play, Ottoville still trailed by four at 56-52, but Landin had another big shot in him.
Landin's triple from the right wing brought the Big Green to within one. After Lincolnview's Austin Leeth converted on one of two at the line, it was Roby who drew contact and tied the score at 59-59 with two clutch free throws with under 40 seconds to play.
A Dowdy baseline drive gave Lincolnview the lead once more with 22 seconds to go, but Roby was there to pull down an offensive rebound and put home the equalizer, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Lancer senior Connor McCleery scored on back-to-back possessions, but the Big Green tied the game when Austin Honiford drew a foul while making his layup and took the lead when he converted the free throw went through the net with 1:16 to go in the game. It was Ottoville's first lead since late in the first quarter.
While Lincolnview couldn't close the contest at the free throw line, Ottoville had no such issues. The Big Green used a 9-for-11 effort in the extra session to close out the victory.
"We're 72 percent as a team, and that's something, in our program, that we really take pride in," added Turnwald. "You hope, when you're in a situation like that, that the kids are going to come through and tonight, they did."
Lincolnview turned the ball over on each of its first two possessions, but quickly settled in against the trademark match-up zone utilized by Ottoville. The Lancers got excellent ball movement and routinely found open shots in the first half. More often than not, the Lancers were knocking them down.
Lancer senior Kyle Williams was on fire right throughout the game, drilling every shot he tried in the opening half. a pair of long-range jumpers, the second of which becoming a rare four-point play when he was fouled as he made the triple, resulted in a 13-12 Lancer lead at the end of one.
In the second quarter, Lincolnview got two more threes from Williams and two from Leeth, but Roby kept the Big Green close with some long-distance artistry of his own. Ottoville trailed 32-29 at halftime.
"Ty Roby hit huge shots in the first half just to keep us in the game," Turnwald said. "At halftime, I felt we were okay, and I told him, 'you kept us in the game, man.'"
The game seemed all but over in the third, when Dowdy knocked down a three, then scored on three consecutive drives to the bucket, creating the 16-point Lancer lead.
"I was proud of the way he played," Hammons said of Dowdy's effort. "He was able to make things happen on both ends of the floor."
For Hammons, a loss like this one is hard to swallow, especially when it means the end of the careers of six seniors.
Like I told our kids, I'm proud of them. The effort we gave, but when it comes to tournament time, we can't go 1-for-8 (from the line) with two minutes to go in regulation," Hammons said. "Like I told our underclassmen, we have to learn from this and we have to get better if we don't want this same feeling again next year."
"Unfortunately for our six seniors, they won't have an opportunity to go back, but they've left us in such a better spot than we were when they came in as freshmen. I'm extremely proud of them. Unfortunately, we couldn't get it done tonight, but we have to make strides and keep moving forward."
Landin paced the Big Green attack with 27 points while Roby added 19 off the bench.
"Brandt, he just played a whale of a game. I've never seen him play like that before. I mean, he's capable, but he just stepped up like an all-Ohio player and played a heck of a game," Turnwald noted.
Ottoville will play for a sectional championship when the take on Delphos St. John's on Friday night.
"It's disappointing that one of us had to lose. That's a really good Lincolnview team and a great coaching staff.," Turnwald finished.
Score by quarters
Ottoville 12 17 9 21 11- 70
Lincolnview 13 19 17 10 7- 66
C. Bendele 3, Honigford 7, Landin 27, Schimmoeller 10, K. Bendele 4, Roby 19
Leeth 11, Williams 18, Dowdy 18, McCleery 8, Ludwig 7, Farmer 0, Adams 3