ELIDA — Ottoville coach Dave Kleman figured his defense would be a big key during their Division IV regional semi-final against Buckeye Central Thursday night.

Little did he know how effective his defense could be against a Buckeye Central team that liked to push the ball every chance they got.

Ottoville’s defensive pressure caused the Buckettes offense tons of trouble during the pivotal second quarter. With the Big Green forcing turnovers, or missed shots, Ottoville was able to break open a close game on their way to a 52-36 win over Buckeye Central at the Elida Fieldhouse.

Ottoville (23-3) advances to the Division IV regional finals Saturday evening, at 7:30 p.m., to face Old Fort for a trip to the Division IV state semi-finals at the Elida Fieldhouse. The Stockaders advanced with a 51-33 win over Hicksville in the opening game Thursday night.

Watching film, Kleman likened the Buckettes to Loyola Marymount in the way they liked to pushed the ball up and down the floor. However, the Big Green feature an athletic, quick team that was able to disrupt the Buckettes offense for much of the first half allowing them to build a double digit lead by halftime.

“From what I saw, they just ran the floor really well. I felt if we stopped their transition we could play good halfcourt defense on them,” Kleman said. “In their district final game they looked like Loyola Marymount and I was like holy smokes, we better stop these guys, get back and make sure we have them. I think our overall quickness, they had a couple of quick kids, but not all of them, was key.”

Ottoville took a 5-0 lead midway through a low scoring first quarter and were up 11-6 after eight minutes of action. Buckeye Central’s Emma Studer opened the second scoring with a three-pointer making it an 11-9 game before the Big Green took off.

Three-pointers by Kasey Knippen and Alicia Honigford opened a 14-0 run before the Big Green started to find junior Bridget Landin in the middle of the Buckettes zone for points. Landin scored six straight points for Ottoville on drives to the basket through that zone before CJ Kemper made it 25-9 with 2:28 left in the half.

After getting that early three, the Buckettes went over five minutes without a point before Isabelle Biglin scored to end that streak. After a three-pointer by Courtney Pifher made it 25-14, Ottoville closed the half with a Brooke Mangas three-pointer and another Landin basket for a 30-14 halftime lead.

“I think we started to find Bridget and CJ inside,” Kleman said of the key to his teams run. “We worked on some stuff this week. When it works its beautiful and the kids get all excited. If it wouldn’t have worked the first couple of times, they would look at you and say coach it isn’t working. It’s like in baseball when the first three guys get a hit, the next three guys feel like they are going to get a hit and when the ball starts going in everyone gains confidence.”

Ottoville’s defense force 12 Buckeye Central turnovers in the opening half and limited to 6-of-19 shooting. Ottoville was 12-of-27 shooting in the first half and had just five turnovers.

Landin and Kemper, four points each, combined for an 8-2 run to start the third quarter as Ottoville’s lead grew to 21 points at 38-17. The lead was 23 points, 42-19, before Buckeye Central ended the quarter with a 4-0 run to trail by 19 points after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, Ottoville had a 50-29 lead before coach Kleman started to empty his bench and get his starters off the floor.

Landin led the Big Green with 18 points and six rebounds and Kemper had 10 points. Mangas and Honigford both had seven points.

Haley Green led the Buckettes with 10 points The teams leading scorer, Jenna Karl, was limited to four points on the night.

* * *

Buckeye Central 15-37 2-3 36: Jenna Karl 2-0-4; Erin Baldosser 2-1-5; Haley Green 4-0-10; Isabelle Biglin 2-1-5; Emma Studer 2-0-5; Courtney Pifher 3-0-7; Lexi Evak 0-0-0; Jocelyn Hepp 0-0-0; Emily Stump 0-0-0; Kendra Stahl 0-0-0; Elizabeth Heydinger 0-0-0.

Ottoville 18-37 13-17 52: CJ Kemper 4-2-10; Bridget Landin 8-2-18; Brooke Mangas 2-2-7; Alicia Honigford 2-2-7; Alexis Thorbahn 0-5-5; Madison Knodell 0-0-0; Amber Miller 1-0-2; Kasey Knippen 1-0-3; Haley Hoersten 0-0-0; Abi Hilvers 0-0-0; Quinley Schlagbaum 0-0-0; Brynlee Hanneman 0-0-0; M. Averesch 0-0-0.

Buckeye Central 6 8 9 13 - 36

Ottoville 11 19 12 10 - 52

Three-point goals: Buckeye Central 4-13 (Green 2, Studer 1, Pifher 1); Ottoville 3-14 (Mangas 1, Honigford 1, Knippen 1).

Rebounds: Buckeye Central 16 (Biglin 4); Ottoville 26 (B. Landin 6, Mangas 5, Honigford 5).

Turnovers: Buckeye Central 15, Ottoville 12.