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Published: Tuesday, 3/16/2010

Rugged test awaits Ottawa Hills in regional

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

When Ottawa Hills takes the court for tonight's Division IV boys basketball regional semifinal against Miller City, the Green Bears (22-1) will be playing in a regional for the first time since 1986.

Tipoff is set for 6:15 p.m. at Anderson Arena in Bowling Green.

Coach John Lindsay's Bears, champions of the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, are aware of that bit of history and also are well aware of the battle-tested nature of their opponent.

The Wildcats (20-4) hail from an always tough Putnam County League, which might have been at its best from top to bottom this season. The eight PCL schools posted a collective 82-21 record against nonleague foes during the regular season.

"We're fully aware of the reputation of the PCL," Lindsay said. "They're very strong, physical basketball teams.

"Having said that, I like our guys, and I think we're very competitive and tough. We're up to the challenge."

Miller City, which is coached by former Ottawa-Glandorf and University of Findlay player Tyson McGlaughlin, is led by seniors

Cody Vennekotter, a 6-3 center (14.9 points, 9.0 rebounds), and Kyle Niese, a 6-1 guard (15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds).

The Green Bears are led by fourth-year varsity player Eliot Browarsky, a 6-0 guard who garnered first-team all-district honors this season while averaging 19.2 points and 7.4 assists.

Ottawa Hills has also gotten strong production from juniors Andrew Jamieson (11.1 points, 5.0 rebounds) and J.J. Buckey (10.9 points). Senior Jon Shollenberger and junior Bobby Brunner round out the starting lineup, and 6-3 freshman sub Lucas Janowicz leads the Bears in rebounding at 5.6 per game. Sophomore Ian Trickey has been another top sub.

"At the beginning of the year, our goals were to win the league outright and the next goal was to get to BG," Lindsay said. "We've accomplished that goal, and we're proud of it, and now the next goal is to get to the regional final.

"We know [the Wildcats] are very physical, they're athletic, they take care of the basketball, and all the guys on the floor are very good shooters. Rebounding and controlling the lane are big keys for us."

Miller City, which was 3-4 in PCL play, avenged one of those league losses last Friday when they edged Pandora-Gilboa 43-42 in a district final. The PCL's top two teams squared off in another district final, with 2009 D-IV state runner-up Kalida (20-2) beating Continental (21-3) 56-41. Kalida will face Wayne Trace (13-10) in tonight's second D-IV semifinal at Anderson Arena. The regional final is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Ottawa Hills, which is riding a 13-game winning streak, advanced to regionals by beating Northwood 64-31, Monroeville 59-41, and Norwalk St. Paul 44-42.

The last time the Green Bears reached a regional, they lost 93-52 in the semifinals to Van Buren in 1986.

Before beating Pandora-Gilboa on Friday, Miller City, winners of eight straight, had topped North Baltimore 64-48, McComb 53-32, and Van Buren 56-44.

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.

DETROIT - Klarissa Bell of East Lansing was named Michigan's Miss Basketball.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central's Annalise Pickrel finished second, with Grosse Pointe North's Ariel Braker third and Detroit Country Day's Madison Williams was fourth.

Pickrel and Williams will join Bell at Michigan State.

Bell, a shooting guard, is averaging 21 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals this season. East Lansing will play Rockford in a Class A quarterfinals.



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