By Nick Johnson
Times Bulletin Correspondent
VAN WERT - The Van Wert Lady Cougars took on the Ottoville Lady Green at Van Wert High School in the second game of the McDonald's Tip-off Tournament. The Lady Green beat the Cougars 56-27 to advance to the championship game on Saturday.Ottoville was led by senior center Abby Siefker who had a game-high 26 points, whereas the Cougars were led by junior guard Cheyenne Handy who had nine points off the bench. All of Handy's points came in the second half.
The Lady Green were the first to score when Rachel Beining got fouled and made the front end of two foul shots. Siefker grabbed the miss on the second foul shot and put it back up to give Ottoville a 3-0 lead.
Van Wert countered with an Erin Morrow layup to draw the game to 3-2 Ottoville. Siefker and Beining controlled the low block for much of the game, which allowed the Lady Green to take a 9-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was more of the same as Siefker scored three straight baskets to extend the Ottoville lead to 15-4. The Cougars ended the Ottoville run when Alexis Dowdy made a layup to make the score 19-4 Lady Green.
A Morrow free throw with just seconds left on the clock cut into the Ottoville lead and made the score at the end of the first half 25-7 Lady Green.
Van Wert was bothered by the Lady Green full-court press for much and of the first half, as the Cougars only got off 17 shots compared to Ottoville's 27.
Siefker and Beining started the second half hot again as they scored six straight point to increase the Ottoville lead. Van Wert, again, got a basket from Dowdy to end the Lady Green run.
After Handy went coast-to-coast and made the layup, she promptly stole the ball from Ottoville and made a quick layup to give the Cougars a quick four points and cut Ottoville's lead to 37-13. Two Claire Butler free throws for Van Wert brought the score to 43-15 Lady Green at the end of the third quarter.
For the second time in the second half Handy made a layup and promptly stole the ball and added another quick two points to help cut into the Ottoville's lead.
Morrow had two points off of foul shots and the Van Wert press prevented the Lady Green from crossing in the time line and forced a turnover. Off the turnover Handy drove to the basket and got fouled. She made one of two to bring the score to 47-22, Ottoville.
The Lady Green closed out the Couagrs with baskets by Lindsey Wannemacher and Courtney VonSossan to give the Lady Green a 56-27 win.
With the victory, Ottoville will take on the Crestview Lady Knights on Saturday night in the champship game. With the loss, the Cougars get the Wayne Trace Raiders in the first game on Saturday night.
"We, as a team looking to go inside, look to do that first and then if we can't get inside we have plenty of shooters you will see thru this year. So if you want to pack into our post players, we will pop it out to our shooters and let them make shots. We may have an off night, but for the most part we will be able to shoot from the perimeter," said Ottoville coach David Kleman.
Lady Green got off to a slow start in the first quarter. "I thought we came out a little sloppy, we were getting such good shots (that we were) in a hurry to finish them. We were just a little off and we were not finishing those shots. Our guards weren't making those shots. Our guards will be able to get good looks because of the play of our post players," added Kleman.
"(I'm a) little disappointed with our effort in the first half. We just look like we couldn't handle the pressure what so ever. We were not executing our game plan and we let them control the pace of the game. We looked a little nervous a little scared. It just went downhill fast," said Van Wert coach Lance Moonshower.
The Cougars wanted to push the ball against the Lady Green. "We wanted to use our speed to get up and down the court and not let them establish a half-court game like they did. We want to get out on the press and get some up-tempo play and not so much in the half-court. We didn't get much press on their guards and give them a lot of credit, they really dictated what they wanted to do on the court and just couldn't get our team speed into play," added Moonshower.
Van Wert (FG, FT, 3pt Tot)
Kaitlynn Hall 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Hulbert 1-3 0-0 0-1 2, Livia Butler 1-2 0-0 0-1 2, Erin Morrow 1-4 4-6 0-4 6, Alexa Dowdy 2-3 0-0 0-0 4, Cheyenne Handy 4-6 1-2 0-1 9, Jenna Weigle 0-0 0-0 0-1 0, Alexa Dunlap 1-3 0-0 0-0 2, Riley Jones 0-0 0-0 0-1 0, Claire Butler 0-1 2-2 0-0 2. Totals: 10-24, 7-10, 0-9, 27.
Ottoville (FG, FT, 3pt, Tot)
Rachel Turnwald 1-4 2-2 0-0 4, Nicole Vorst 1-3 1-2 0-1 3, Tonya Kaufman 1-6 0-2 0-0 2, Rachel Beining 7-11 1-2 0-0 15, Abby Siefker 11-15 4-4 0-0 26, Taylor Mangas 1-4 0-0 0-0 2, Kendra Eickholt 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, Annie Lindeman 1-1 0-0 0-0 2, Lindsey Wannemacher 1-2 0-0 0-0 2. Totals: 24-47, 8-10, 0-3, 56.
Van Wert 4 3 8 12 - 27
Ottoville 9 16 18 13 -56