By John Parent
VAN WERT - "The worst thing that could have happened to us was halftime."
That's the way Ottoville Lady Green head coach Dave Kleman summed up his team's season-opening loss to the Crestview Lady Knights on Thursday. Crestview stormed from behind to knock off Ottoville 45-39 in the first game of the McDonald's Tip Off Tournament held at Van Wert High School.
Ottoville will play in the consolation game Saturday at 6 p.m. against Wayne Trace.
Ottoville's full-court man-to-man defense played havoc with Crestview's far more veteran lineup early on. The Lady Knights too often tried dribbling through the press only to turn the ball over and other times rushed ill-advised passes across the court - passes that were easily picked off by Ottoville defenders.
Amidst the pressure defense, the Lady Green was able to find some points thanks to excellent shooting from senior Taylor Mangas and junior Annie Lindeman.
The pressure defense also caused some problems for the Lady Green, however, as their inexperienced team, including three freshmen starters, ran into foul problems. Most specifically it was Brooke Mangas who picked up two early fouls and spent the rest of the first half on the bench. A quick one in the third quarter cost her more playing time.
"She was pretty excited about starting, as a freshman," remarked Kleman about the younger Mangas. "She's not afraid. She goes right at you, she just needs to temper that with a little bit of caution when she's guarding someone."
"She'll learn though, they'll learn. She's a freshman," added Kleman. "She'll have a long career here."
Though the two teams battled to a relatively even second quarter, the Lady Green coasted into halftime with the game looking in hand at 28-19.
That's when the teams headed for the locker rom and, the break gave Crestview a chance to settle in.
"(Halftime) gave Crestview a chance to regroup," noted Kleman. "They're a very good veteran club. We knew we'd have to play two good halves, but we didn't have a very good second half."
A combination of an increased intensity by the Lady Knights and, perhaps, some complacency on the part of the young Ottoville squad led to some sloppy Lady Green offense and Crestview took advantage.
The Lady Knights forced four turnovers in the opening two-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter and shots that were falling in the first half for Ottoville were missing after halftime. The Lady Knights chipped away at the deficit, and cut the lead to 28-25 when Kennis Mercer found Emily Bauer inside for the easy lay in.
Ottoville, meanwhile, didn't get their first point of the quarter until the 3:38 mark when Brooke Mangas got her defender in the air and stepped into a 15-foot jumper, drawing the foul and splitting a pair of free throws.
The Lady Green, however, wouldn't score again until there were just 1.9 seconds to go in the period.
In the interim, Crestview continued to exploit match ups at the rim. Bauer made another shot inside, drawing a foul in the process, but missed the free throw that would have cut the lead to one. No matter, on the next Lady Knight possession, junior Lindsey Motycka was hacked on her way up and sank both free throws to knot the game at 29-29.
Crestview then jumped out to their first lead of the game with under a minute to play in the third and extended the lead when Motycka broke ahead of the press and cruised to the bucket on an esasy fast break layup before Taylor Mangas ended the run with a jumper off the right block as time was about to expire.
In the fourth, Ottoville re-established their style and regained their composure. They also recaptured the lead.
Ottoville's defense forced three turnovers in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the final period and the Lady Knights compounded their problems by committing two fouls early. the Lady Green got buckets from Lindeman and a pair of free throws from Brooke Mangas and opened up a 37-33 advantage with under five minutes to play.
Once again, Crestview came from behind. They got rolling when Bauer found Motycka on a feed from the high post to the block, resulting in a basket at the rim. On the next Crestview possession, junior Mackenzie Riggenbach came up with an offensive rebound and drew a foul on her put-back attempt. A pair of made free throws tied the score again, this time at 37-37.
The Lady Knights were a step quicker to loose balls down the stretch, getting multiple shots on too many possessions late in the game. After missing the back-end of her two shots from the line with under three minutes to play, Crestview's Motycka ran down her own rebound and cut to the hoop to complete an unorthodox three-point-play that put the Lady Knights up for good at 40-37.
"They're good kids. They've had a lot of success together and they'll grow a lot just from being young," Kleman added. "We have young kids. We're learning. We'll get better."
Taylor Mangas poured in 13 points for the Lady Green, but 11 of those came in the first half. Lindeman matched Mangas with 13 pointsdoing so on 4-of-10 shooting from the field and two-for-two from the line. Brooke Mangas scored all five of her points in the second half.