OTTAWA – It’s a little different look for the defending Division III state champion boy’s basketball team this season.
Ottawa-Glandorf graduated eight seniors, including four starters, from last season’s state championship squad.
It took a little while for the Titans to find their rhythm in Friday’s opening game with visiting Bowling Green.
However, after a somewhat anemic first half, O-G finally got it going in the second half to pull away for a convincing 58-36 victory.
O-G (1-0) misfired on most of its shots in the first half, hitting just 7-of-27 from field. Bowling Green (0-3) also struggled, connecting on 4-of-25 from the floor. The Titans went into the halftime break with a 23-11 lead.
After the sluggish first half, O-G then made 16-of-29 from the field in the final 16 minutes.
The Titans stretched their lead to 42-19 by the end of the third quarter. O-G’s largest lead was 55-24, late in the fourth quarter.
Noah Bramlage, a 6-foot-7 pivot, led O-G with 19 points and 14 rebounds. He also dished out three assists and blocked a shot.
Tyler Zender gave the Titans a boost in the second half, scoring 10 of his 11 total points in the final two quarters. Zach Kuhlman scored just two points for O-G, but ripped down 12 boards.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” O-G coach Tyson McGlaughlin said. “So going into the opening game, we just needed a couple of questions answered. This is the first time for a lot of the guys to play serious varsity minutes. You can do a lot at practice, but until you get around 2,000 people in a game, you never know how the kids are going to react.”
For the game, O-G shot 32 percent from the field. Bowling Green made just 21 percent of its field goal attempts. O-G dominated the boards, 49-22.
Bowling Green’s LaMonta Stone led all scorers with 20 points, which included 13 in the fourth quarter. The shifty Stone (5-5, Jr.) also came away with six rebounds and four steals.
“I think they were testing the waters, there a little bit,” McGlaughlin said about his team. “We got good looks, but we were settling for outside shots. I think that was the easy way out. But, give Bowling Green credit. That was their game plan, to push us out more on the perimeter. Those are shots our guys normally knock down. But tonight, we did not make those.”
McGlaughlin said his team started to utilize its strengths in the second half.
“In the third quarter, we made an emphasis to really pound the ball down low. I thought Zender and (Jason) Schnipke (six points, three rebounds) did a nice job of facilitating and getting some easy baskets. We calmed down (in the second half). I thought our defensive effort was great. I was pleased overall,” he said.
For the game, O-G committed 14 turnovers, while Bowling Green turned the ball over 11 times.
Bowling Green also had several young players on the court. The Bobcats return just two players from last year’s team.
“I was very happy with the shots we were getting,” first-year coach Mark Malinowski said. “I certainly had no complaints, other than the fact the ball wasn’t going in. I was very pleased at what was going on at the defensive end.”