BOWLING GREEN — Ottawa Hills arrived at the Division IV boys basketball regional final against Leipsic with hopes of advancing to the state semifinals for the second time in four seasons.
Leipsic's previous trip to the state semifinals was in 1925.
But the Vikings put an end to an 88-year drought by defeating the Green Bears 63-54 on Friday night before an enthusiastic crowd of about 2,000 at the Stroh Center.
"We talked in the locker room, and we'll be back," Ottawa Hills coach John Lindsay said.
Geoff Beans, a 6-foot-6 junior, scored a team-high 19 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead a Green Bears team (22-5) that fell behind the Vikings by as much as 13 points in the first half.
Lucas Janowicz, one of four seniors on the Ottawa Hills roster, pumped in 10 points, but was held to just four points after halftime. R.J. Coil, a 6-8 junior, was also limited to four points in the second half and finished with 10 points.
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"To their credit, they're a pretty physical team," Lindsay said of the Vikings. "They did a nice job."
Devin Mangas poured in a game-high 23 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead the Vikings (24-4). They will play Lancaster Fairfield Christian in a state semifinal Friday in Columbus at the Schottenstein Center.
Zach Kuhlman scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and Austin Brown added 10 for a Leipsic team that made 9 of 17 shots from behind the 3-point arc.
Despite having only one tall player (6 feet, 4 inches) on the team, Leipsic didn't back down to an Ottawa Hills team led by three players in its starting lineup ranging from 6-4 to 6-8.
"We knew if we were to back off, they were going to come at us," said Brown, a 6-3 senior forward. "We were able to eliminate their offensive rebounds all night."
Janowicz, Ottawa Hills' 6-4 senior forward, was the lone freshman to suit up when the Green Bears reached the state semifinals in 2010. He credited the Vikings for their effort.
"They [Leipsic] have 10 seniors on their team, and they really have a great mentality," said Janowicz, who pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds in his final high school contest. "They worked hard on every play."
Ottawa Hills trailed most of the game, but never quit. The Green Bears came within three points of tying late in the fourth quarter. Beans nailed a 3-pointer to cut Leipsic's lead to 51-48 with 1:20 left in the game. He would later sink three free throws after being fouled on a three-point try that drew Ottawa Hills to within three points of a Leipsic lead (57-54) with 19.9 seconds to play.
But the Green Bears couldn't quite overcome the Vikings down the stretch.
"I'm proud of what they've accomplished this year," Lindsay said, of his team.
Leipsic coach Scott Maag said Ottawa Hills' size advantage in the front court didn't dictate how they played. "We were going to pressure them full court the whole game," Maag said.
The Vikings executed their game plan practically to their own perfection. They went into the game wanting to match the Green Bears in rebounding and limit them to eight offensive boards. Ottawa Hills outrebounded Leipsic, 29-26, but was held to only four offensive boards.
Also, the Vikings' full-court pressure contributed to the Green Bears committing 19 turnovers, which is one less than Leipsic opponents have averaged during the season.
Leipsic outscored Ottawa Hills 24-0 on fastbreak points, and it could have been worse had the Vikings not committed unforced turnovers of their own on a few fast breaks.
Mangas, a six-foot guard, missed a dunk attempt on a wide-open fast break that occurred when four Green Bears crashed to the floor trying to recover a loose ball.
But that was one of the few misses for Mangas, who was 7-for-13 from the field, including 3-for-5 from three-point territory. Most of the long-range shooting damage was done by the Vikings in the first half when they went 8-for-12 from three-point territory. It helped build a 34-26 halftime advantage.
"They played a zone [n the first half], so we had to kick it around real fast and find the open man," Mangas said, of the Vikings' offensive approach to jump ahead of the Green Bears before halftime.
Kuhlman and Mangas combined for 27 points in the first half with Kuhlman pumping in 14 points and Mangas 13. They were a combined 9 of 15 from the field, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade