BOWLING GREEN - Not many people believed that Ottawa Hills could win its Division IV boys basketball regional semifinal game against Miller City last night.
But did the Green Bears believe?
"We didn't believe," senior Eliot Browarsky said. "We expected to win."
Ottawa Hills' expectations were realized in a 57-44 win over the Wildcats at Anderson Arena. The win advanced the Green Bears to Friday night's 7:30 p.m. regional final against Kalida, who beat Wayne Trace in yesterday's second semifinal.
Ottawa Hills was led by senior standout Browarsky, who finished with 18 points and seven assists despite playing the second half on a tender ankle that had him using crutches after the contest.
"Our plan was to contain Browarsky and shut down [J.J.] Buckey and [Andrew] Jamieson," Miller City coach Tyson McGlaughlin said. "That's the big three for them. And we wanted to keep Browarsky out of the lane as much as possible.
"But Browarsky got into the lane time and time again. Hat's off to the kid; he made a ton of plays."
Browarsky deflected the praise to his teammates, who will enter Friday's game with a 23-1 record.
"Luke [Janowicz] was huge tonight, especially with his offensive contribution," Browarsky said. "Bobby [Brunner] did his role all night in guarding [Kyle] Niese, sacrificing himself for the team.
"Jon Shollenberger was big with his defense down low, and Ian Trickey helped us coming off the bench."
Jamieson finished with 16 points, while Buckey and Janowicz each had 10. Jamieson also had a game-high eight rebounds.
Browarsky hit a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to give his team a 16-14 lead, and a 6-2 Ottawa Hills rush at the end of the second made the halftime score 24-22.
"In the first half, we thought they were destroying us on the offensive glass," Ottawa Hills coach John Lindsay said. "Not only were they getting the offensive rebounds, but they were finishing [with baskets].
"We talked about it at halftime, and we did a much better job in the second half controlling in the paint."
After getting seven offensive rebounds in the first half, Miller City grabbed just four in the second as the Green Bears outrebounded the Wildcats in the game 26-21. What's more, the Ottawa Hills defense forced Miller City to make nine second-half turnovers.
Jamieson, who made just 1 of 5 shots in the first half, connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Green Bears took a 38-32 lead.
"I always try to stay as positive as I can entering the second half, no matter how my first half went," Jamieson said. "Shooters have to shoot.
"[Making the 3 to start the third quarter] was really big for me. And it was big for the team, because it helped us start to pull away."
Ottawa Hills broke the game wide open in the final period. The Green Bears used a 7-3 run in the first two minutes to expand the lead to 45-35, then rattled off 10 unanswered points midway through the quarter.
"They got into the paint a little more than we wanted them to," McGlaughlin said. "It wasn't that we were worried about them scoring [in the paint]; it was the little dump-offs, making the extra pass, that helped them get layups."
Kyle Niese was the only player in double figures for Miller City (20-5) with 21 points.
Lindsay was asked if he expected, before the season began, to have his team advance to the regional finals.
"I did not," Lindsay admitted. "But the improvement of this team, from the beginning of the season until now, has been impressive.
"It is the competition in our practices that make me a believer. We compete in everything in practice but the stretch."
Contact John Wagner
or (419) 724-6481.