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Published: Sunday, 3/16/2008

O-G: 2 titles in 5 years; Meyer sparks Titans to crown in D-III this time

Ottawa-Glandorf's Justin Schomaeker, right, steals the ball from Sugarcreek Garaway's David Gerber at Value City Arena. Ottawa-Glandorf's Justin Schomaeker, right, steals the ball from Sugarcreek Garaway's David Gerber at Value City Arena.
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COLUMBUS - This time it was in a different division, but Ottawa-Glandorf wrapped up its second state boys basketball championship in five seasons, rolling to a comfortable 62-44 victory last night over third-ranked Sugarcreek Garaway in the Division III championship game before a crowd of 13,371 at Value City Arena.

Senior Jake Meyer - a former starter who now comes off the bench to give O-G's usual 10-man rotation more of a boost - included three 3-pointers in his game-high 21 points.

"You dream this as a little kid," Meyer said. "I'm just really overwhelmed right now. One through 10 or one through 15, any of our guys can step up. It's not necessarily going to be me."

Senior teammate Justin Schomaeker had 15 points and junior Taylor Kuhlman added nine to aid 12th-ranked O-G, which prospered greatly from the 19 Pirate turnovers it forced.

The Titans (23-5), who captured the Division II crown in 2004 led by twin brothers Tim and Eric Pollitz, have a different coach and use a different style these days.

But the result was pretty much the same.

Former coach Dave Sweet used a more conventional approach in routing Canal FultonNorthwest 75-42 four years ago. Under third-year coach Josh

Leslie, who now feels a little more at home in Ottawa, this title was secured via the Titans' 32-minute, press-and-run frenzy.

Ottawa-Glandorf players react to winning the Division III state boys basketball championship Saturday night with a victory over Sugarcreek Garaway. Ottawa-Glandorf players react to winning the Division III state boys basketball championship Saturday night with a victory over Sugarcreek Garaway.
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Leslie, who now feels a little more at home in Ottawa, this title was secured via the Titans' 32-minute, press-and-run frenzy.

"Coach [Ron] Niekamp and coach Sweet set the bar extremely high," Leslie said. "Coach Niekamp got here twice [1977-78 Class AA semifinals] and coach Sweet got here a couple times, and won it four years ago. So the expectation level is pretty high.

"Maybe that's the reason I was renting a house in Ottawa. Now maybe I can buy one. It's a great basketball community and, as a coach, there's no place you'd rather be. There's not a better job in the state, in my mind."

The Titans came at Garaway in waves defensively.

"We can use our length and athleticism to wear other teams down," said Schomaeker, who topped O-G with 26 points in Friday's semifinals. "Our defensive intensity has been great the past eight games in the tournament. Our offense starts with our defense. Being physical has been very helpful to us."

Just as they did in the 65-57 semifinal win over second-ranked Anna, the Titans jumped out to a fast start and held on. On Friday it was a 10-0 spurt that got O-G going, and last night it was a 13-0 run after Garaway's Paul Honigford opened the game's scoring by hitting one of two free throws 21 seconds in.

Six Pirate turnovers later, Kuhlman was cruising in for a layup off a steal for a 13-1 lead just 3:58 into the game.

Senior Jake Meyer scores for Ottawa-Glandorf. Meyer had 21 points and the Titans finished with a 23-5 record. Senior Jake Meyer scores for Ottawa-Glandorf. Meyer had 21 points and the Titans finished with a 23-5 record.
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"We obviously got off to a good start," Leslie said. "We feel if we can get up on teams in the first quarter, and get them to play the way we want to play, getting them to turn it over and get in transition, that's a big key for us.

"If we can make them play from behind like that, we're awfully tough to beat."

Garaway cut the margin to 18-12 by quarter's end, but the Titans turned up the heat again to start the second quarter with a 12-2 run. Meyer closed that surge with three consecutive buckets - a 3-pointer, followed by a layup off a lob from Schomaeker, and then a dunk in transition for a 30-14 lead 4:56 before halftime.

O-G led 35-23 at the break, and stretched the gap to as many as 20 points late in the third quarter. Kuhlman's 15-foot jumper from the right wing gave the Titans that high-water mark at 49-29 with 2:27 left in the period.

"It worked today and it's worked the last few weeks," Leslie said of the pressure defense. "I'm happy for these guys. It's something that no one can ever take away from them, and something I'll be talking with them about 30 years from now.

"The great thing about these guys is that they just kept getting better. I think it culminated today."

Garaway (24-4), which was topped by Tyler Gerber's 15 points, got no closer than 13 from there.

O-G was 23-of-41 (56 percent) from the field, and 11-of-16 (69 percent) from the line.

Garaway was held to 16-of-51 (31 percent) shooting from the field, hit 11 of 13 (85 percent) from the line, and outrebounded the Titans 32-25.

- Steve Junga



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