Van Wert senior Nick Gutierrez (12) leans in for a shot during a Western Buckeye League game against Ottawa-Glandorf on Friday night. The Cougars battled the unbeaten Titans to overtime, but fell 67-63. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
Van Wert senior Nick Gutierrez (12) leans in for a shot during a Western Buckeye League game against Ottawa-Glandorf on Friday night. The Cougars battled the unbeaten Titans to overtime, but fell 67-63. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
VAN WERT — It was an old-fashioned, Western Buckeye League grudge match between Ottawa-Glandorf and Van Wert inside the Cougar Den at Van Wert High School Friday evening - even taking an extra period to decide.

The Titans, and particularly junior forward Jay Kaufman, proved to be too much for the Cougars, however, and the visitors held on for a 67-63 overtime win.

“It was a hard-fought WBL game,” said Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin. “It was one of those where you had to grind it out… We found a way to sneak out of here with a win and, at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”

On a night where the Titans shot only 36 percent (20-of-55) from the field, Kaufman seemingly willed the team along. He scored 32 points and added 16 rebounds for Ottawa-Glandorf.

“With Kaufman especially, there weren’t a lot of answers,” said Van Wert coach Mark Bagley. “We tried to do different things. We played 2-3 zone tonight, we tried doubling him a little bit; but he’s just a really good player.”

Kaufman’s stats weren’t exactly skewed with the overtime period, either, as the junior didn’t score in the first quarter.

“He kind of took it on his shoulders there in the second half and made some plays,” said McGlaughlin.

Nearly overshadowed was a very solid offensive output from the Cougars. Van Wert shot 54 percent (24-of-44) from the field and recorded four more field goals than the Titans. The Cougars also connected on 6-of-11 from long range to Ottawa-Glandorf’s 1-of-13.

The Achilles heel for the Cougars on the evening and difference in the game, however, was foul trouble that plagued the Van Wert. The Titans shot 36 free throws, and converted on 26 of them, to Van Wert’s clip of 9-of-18.

“We were in foul trouble the whole night and we had a variety of guys step up and make plays,” said Bagley. “I thought we executed pretty well to get there. But, the problem was when we did get fouled, we didn’t make (the free throws), when we tried to get the ball inside. There really were some lost possessions that really hurt us. When that happens in a close game in our league, they make you pay.”

The game saw many lead changes and both teams held leads for significant amounts of time. Ottawa-Glandorf jumped out to a 9-2 lead, but the Titan lead shrunk to 13-11 and the end of the first quarter and disappeared when sophomore forward Drew Bagley hit a basket to open the second. A Bagley three and a floater from sophomore guard Nate Place later gave Van Wert an 18-15 lead, which grew to 28-23 thanks to a layup from sophomore forward Blake Henry with 2:29 to play in the second quarter.

Ultimately, Van Wert led 31-29 at the break and ran the lead to 39-32 by the 5:44 mark of the third thanks to a 4-for-4 shooting stretch to open the second half. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the early third quarter was when the foul situation began to take a toll.

Bagley picked up his fourth four in the early third and had to sit a large part of the period. Henry followed with his fourth shortly after, meaning some of Van Wert’s rim protection was gone while Kaufman was just starting to hit his stride.

The Titans fought within one, 41-40, to start the fourth and quickly took the lead thanks to a pair of free throws from junior forward Jake Dible. Baskets from senior guard Dylan Lautzenheiser and Bagley later returned the lead to the Cougars, 45-42.

Six straight points from Kaufman, however, seemingly turned the tide in favor of the Titans.

With time winding down, Van Wert junior guard Jacoby Kelly hit the biggest shot of the game to that point to stem the tide and tie the game at 48 with 1:45 to play.

The last minute and a half saw almost as much action as the entire previous portion of the game. It started when sophomore guard Owen Hiegel converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to give Ottawa-Glandorf a 51-48 lead with 1:35 to play. Henry was then fouled and split a pair to cut the lead to two with 1:06 to play. The Titans then turned the ball back over to the Cougars, who couldn’t convert on an open layup attempt with 1:01 to play and, on the other end, Kaufman seemingly sealed the game with a pair of free throws.

The free throws gave Ottawa-Glandorf a 53-49 lead with 31 seconds to play. Kelly converted a layup while being fouled, and hit the free throw to cut the lead to one, 53-52, with 21 seconds to play. Kaufman was then immediately fouled.

Kaufman missed both of the free throws, however, but hauled in his own rebound and found senior guard Connor Niese who was fouled, with 12 seconds to play, and hit both free throws to extend the Titan lead to 55-52.

Van Wert was faced with one final chance to tie, and Kelly found Place who heaved a three and converted with 1.2 seconds to play, sending the game to an overtime period.

Unfortunately for the Cougars the attrition due to foul problems was too much to overcome in the extra period. Place fouled out and joined Bagley who had fouled out in regulation. Meanwhile Kaufman put up eight points in overtime to will the Titans to the eventual 67-63 win.

The Titans remain perfect on the season with the win - moving to 8-0 and 2-0 in WBL play. Along with Kaufman, Dible added 11 points for the visitors.

The Cougars fall to 4-4 and 1-1 on the season. They were led by Kelly, who scored 15 points, while Henry recorded 13 points and Lautzenheiser and Place added 12 each.

“It was an unbelievable game. Our kids battled and never quit. It was just one of those things where it came down to the little plays, and they just made a few more at the end,” said Bagley.

***

OTTAWA-GLANDORF (67)

Connor Niese 2-5 3-6 8, Owen Hiegel 2-6 5-5 9, Jay Kaufman 10-23 12-15 32, Bryce Schroeder 0-9 0-0 0, Jake Dible 5-7 1-2 11, Trevor Siefker 1-2 0-1 2, Ethan White 0-3 5-6 5.

VAN WERT (63)

Jacoby Kelly 5-12 4-7 15, Nate Place 5-11, 0-1 12, Nick Gutierrez 2-3 0-0 4, Dylan Lautzenheiser 5-9 1-2 12, Drew Bagley 2-4 2-2 7, Blake Henry 5-6 2-5 13, Matthew Reichert 0-1 0-0 0.

OG 13 16 11 15 12 - 67

VW 11 20 10 14 8 - 63

3-Point Field Goals: OG 1 (Niese), VW 6 (Kelly, Place 2, Lautzenheiser, Bagley, Henry); Rebounds: OG 34 (Kaufman 16, Niese 5, White 5), VW 23 (Kelly 6, Lautzenheiser 5, Henry 5); Turnovers: OG 15, VW 12; JV Score: 49-45 OG (OT).