KANSAS, Ohio — Using a businesslike finish. Ottawa Hills gave Toledo Christian a lesson in the art of closing a deal in a 65-50 victory in Friday’s night’s Division IV boys basketball district basketball final at Lakota.
The Green Bears hit all six of their fourth-quarter shots from the field, sank 17 of 20 free throws, committed no turnovers, and blanked TC for the first 4 minutes, 20 seconds of the final period in outscoring the Eagles 29-15.
Ottawa Hills (21-4) — which got a combined 48 points and 20 rebounds from the 1-2 punch of juniors R.J. Coil and Geoff Beans — advances to meet North Robinson Colonel Crawford (20-5) in a regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center.
“Our big guys were good, and our guards were good enough to get the ball inside tonight,” Green Bears coach John Lindsay said. “They did a nice job. I’m really pleased with our poise, and the way we took care of the basketball.
“You have to value every possession in tournament time, and we did a great job.”
In winning the season’s rubber match against their Toledo Area Athletic Conference rivals, the Green Bears simply played the percentages and pounded the ball inside.
The TAAC champion Eagles (22-3) had no starter taller than 6-foot-3 senior post player Ben Ivan, while Ottawa Hills sported the 6-8 Coil, the 6-6 Beans, and 6-4 senior team leader Lucas Janowicz.
Coil tallied 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Beans added 21 points and eight boards in a dominant front-court effort.
“We knew that [attacking inside] was the weak point in their defense, because we’ve done it the last few times we’ve played them,” Coil said. “We practiced that all week, and that’s what we had to do.
“We’ve set our sights on this [Tuesday’s regional] game for the whole year, and we’re finally here.”
Recognizing the front-court edge and exploiting were two different matters early on, however, as the Eagles used their superior quickness to claim a 13-11 lead after one quarter, and take a 26-21 lead to halftime.
Toledo Christian, which enjoyed its biggest lead of the game at nine points (24-15) after a free throw from Eric Cellier with 2:49 left in the half, maintained a lead until 42 seconds remained in the third quarter.
That’s when the game’s momentum shifted on a 3-pointer from senior guard Blake Pappas (eight points), whose basket gave the Bears a 36-35 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
That shot turned out to be the start of Ottawa Hills’ game-breaking 15-0 run, a surge capped by two free throws from Beans for a commanding 48-35 Green Bears lead with 3:57 left in the game.
“We got inside in the first quarter and, in the second quarter, they started to push us out,” Beans said.
“But we knew the only way we were going to get consistent buckets was to get inside, and R.J. Lucas and I worked well together, passing it to each other, and getting open layups. We got it done.”
TC, which missed its first six shots in the final period, and eight in a row overall, finally broke the ice when senior guard Josh Winzeler hit the third of his four 3-pointers in the game with 3:40 to go.
Ottawa Hills answered with Coil’s three-point play 30 seconds later, and the stretch run became a Green Bears parade to the foul line. They went 13-for-17 on free throws in the final 3:10.
“They just outplayed us tonight,” Eagles coach Dave McWhinnie said.
“They have a great program, and they did a lot of great things. They made more plays that we did in the second half.
“When we got down [early in fourth quarter] we had a couple bad possessions where we just gave them things, and it went from three to five to seven really fast.”
The Green Bears, who hit 12 of their 17 (71 percent) second-half field-goal attempts, finished 20-for-33 (61 percent), and were 23-for-31 at the line. They outrebounded the Eagles 30-20, and committed just 10 turnovers against TC’s pressure defense.
Toledo Christian, which was 17-of-46 (37 percent) from the field and 7-of-9 at the line, was led in scoring by Winzeler (14 points) and Cellier (13).
The Eagles beat Ottawa Hills at home 57-44 on Jan. 5, and lost 49-47 on the Bears’ court on Feb. 8.
“The league title is certainly theirs, but we’re awfully proud of what we accomplished tonight,” Lindsay said.
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.