MCCOMB — For three quarters McComb gave Ottoville all they could handle.

But as the game wore on and the Big Green started to find themselves, without the services of senior captain Logan Kemper, Ottoville was able to solve the Panthers tenacity. The Big Green scored the final eight points of the game to defeat McComb 55-49 in non-league boys basketball action.

With just one day to practice after Kemper sustained an ankle Saturday night in a win over Lincolnview, the Big Green struggled at times to find an offensive rhythm Ottoville coach Keith Utendorf said.

“For whatever reason, we didn’t find some rhythm offensively and obviously with their athletes they are able to spread us and they shoot the ball really well and they got to the rim, so they presented a lot of challenges for us,” Utendorf said. “Obviously, without Logan, that contributed to our off-balance and out of whack nature early on, but I thought the guys came into halftime and figured some things out. Then we came out the second half and dug ourselves out of that funk.”

Ottoville started well as they had a 17-12 lead in the opening quarter behind baskets by Zane Martin and a Ryan Suever dunk. McComb’s Tanner Schroeder hit a basket to end the first quarter scoring as the Big Green had a 17-14 lead.

Freshman Josh Thorbahn opened the second quarter scoring for the Big Green with a basket, but that would be the only points of the quarter for the visitors. Behind some fine defensive play and five points from Koby Gustwiller and four points by Schroeder to end the half the Panthers took a 26-19 lead into halftime.

After the halftime adjustments, Ottoville’s offense started to find its range as Martin broke an eight minute scoring drought for the Big Green with a basket that was followed by one from Thorbahn. The Big Green were able to overcome the halftime deficit as Suever tied the game at 33-33 on a free throw with 3:07 left in the quarter. Thorbahn pulled the Big Green with the second of his two three-pointers in the quarter.

Ottoville never took the lead in the quarter as the game was tied three times before Schroeder scored the final five points, with a three-pointer, of the quarter giving the Panthers a 42-37 lead going to the final eight minutes.

McComb was up 46-39 in the final quarter before the Big Green made a run.

Behind four points by Suever and a Ryan Bendele basket, off a steal, with 3:56 left to play the Big Green finally took the lead at 47-46. Still the Panthers were not done as a Gustwiller three point play returned the lead to McComb at 49-47 with 3:29 left. However, the deeper Big Green and foul problems would catch up to the Panthers as they never scored again.

Thorbahn gave Ottoville the lead for good with a three-pointer with 2:08 left and Ottoville hit 5-of-8 free throws down the stretch to secure the win. In that span, McComb turned the ball over four times and missed four shots.

“Finally we got some consistent stops,” Utendorf said. “We kind of had gotten to that point with the lead, then chipped away, stayed close and we finally got consecutive stops in the fourth quarter and were able to do enough good things to keep it going. Josh did a great job obviously (with a couple of big shots) and I thought Ryan Bendele did a good job getting in the passing lane and creating some havoc. Nick (Moorman) played a great game overall as he had to kind of be the lead guy out there.”

“They did a good job in the fourth quarter and we didn’t hit our shots,” McComb coach Nick Latta said. “That was huge for us, especially in the first three quarters. We ran our offense and did what we needed to do. I felt we still did that in the fourth quarter, we just didn’t make our shots at the end. We were in huge foul trouble and are not deep and that hurt us.”

Thorbahn paced the Big Green (10-2) with 15 points and Suever added 11. Bendele and Moorman both had nine points.

Justin Wasson led the Panthers with 13 points and Schroeder added 11. Gustwiller had nine points for McComb.

Ottoville won the junior varsity contest 52-30.