Ottawa Hills freshman Hunter Sieben steals the ball from Toledo Christian's Matthew Brumbaugh in Friday night’s Division IV district final. Sieben scored 10 points for the Green Bears.
KANSAS, Ohio — For the second straight year the Ottawa Hills boys basketball team is headed for a Division IV regional. And for the second straight year, the Green Bears defeated Toledo Christian in the district final.
This time, however, featured a much lower score, with Ottawa Hills taking a 36-24 victory Friday at Lakota High School.
After the two teams battled to a 65-50 score in last year’s final, this year’s game was played at a much slower pace.
"We truly expect that," Ottawa Hills coach John Lindsay said. "We’ve probably had half the teams that we’ve played this year try to shorten the game. We knew going into the season, with our size advantage that that would be part of it. So from day one we’ve been practicing it."
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With Toledo Christian (17-9) using a deliberate offense, Ottawa Hills was able to clamp down defensively and held the Eagles scoreless in the first quarter. The Green Bears led 8-0 after one quarter and took a 16-6 lead into halftime.
Freshman Hunter Sieben scored all 10 of his points in the first half, helping Ottawa Hills (22-1) overcome senior R.J. Coil’s two first half fouls.
"That was huge," Sieben said. "They were really playing off of me and keying on the big guys down low who have been tearing it up recently. To hit a few shots and spread the game out and get us a good lead to start was pretty nice."
Ottawa Hills took a 21-10 lead early in the third quarter after three points by senior Ellis Cummings and a basket by senior Geoff Beans, but Toledo Christian responded with an 8-0 run to close out the quarter. A 3-point play by Matthew Brumbaugh off of a steal capped off the run and had Toledo Christian trailing 21-18 to begin the final quarter.
But the Eagles struggled to score again in the fourth quarter and Ottawa Hills cashed in at the foul line, shooting 13-18 from the line in the final quarter to put the game away.
After a quiet first half, Coil scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, including six points from the foul line. Ben Silverman added six second-half points and Cummings and Beans both had five points in the game.
Garshawn Paynther paced Toledo Christian with nine points, while Kyle Kempton added seven and Brumbaugh had six.
"We cut it to three," Toledo Christian coach Dave McWhinnie said. "We had the ball to finish the third quarter and we had the first possession of the fourth.
"We had a couple shots that rimmed out and we got a rebound and we maybe had two of them that rimmed out. We needed those balls to go. Our margin for error against Ottawa Hills is not very high."
After falling in the regional final game last year to Leipsic, Ottawa Hills will once again be tested when they travel to BGSU. They move on to face Convoy Crestview, the No. 1 ranked Division IV team in the state on Tuesday.
"We’re really excited," Lindsay said of facing the top team in the state. "We have quite a bit to look forward to and I can’t tell you how excited we are for the opportunity."
After coming so close to making the state semifinals last year, the Green Bears have played this season with a trip to Columbus on their minds.
"It feels good, but we're not settling on this," Coil said. "We want more and we want Columbus."