Van Wert’s Cheyenne Handy dribbles past a defender in a game at Ottawa-Glandorf High School Thursday evening. The Lady Cougars came away with a 48-45 defeat. (Times Bulletin/Charlie Warnimont)
Van Wert’s Cheyenne Handy dribbles past a defender in a game at Ottawa-Glandorf High School Thursday evening. The Lady Cougars came away with a 48-45 defeat. (Times Bulletin/Charlie Warnimont)
By Charlie Warnimont

Times Bulletin Correspondent

OTTAWA - Van Wert girls basketball coach Lance Moonshower figures his team played really well for 26 or 27 minutes during their Western Buckeye League contest with Ottawa-Glandorf Thursday.

It was those handful of minutes where the Lady Cougars struggled that possiblibly cost them a win.

Ottawa-Glandorf used a 5-0 run midway through the final quarter to get a lead and they never gave it up in posting a 48-45 win in the WBL opener for both teams at the Supreme Court. The Titans moved to 2-1 on the season, while the Cougars are 1-3.

A 9-0 run late in the first quarter gave the Cougars a lead they would not relinquish until the Titans used a mini spurt to finally overcome the Lady Cougars. O-G had been within a point three times earlier in the contest and despite a two point lead early in the final quarter were never able to pull away from Van Wert.

Van Wert took a 34-33 lead to the final eight minutes, but saw the Titans tie the game at 34-34 on a free throw by Elissa Ellerbrock before Dani Ellerbrock gave O-G's its first lead since 8-5 with a basket. The Cougars didn't wilt as they went on a 4-0 run to take a 37-35 lead on a free throw each by Kaitlyn Hall and Alexa Dunlap and two by Claire Butler.

Elissa Ellerbrock powered inside for a basket to tie the game at 37-37 before two free throws by Erin Morrow gave the Cougars a 39-37 cushion. A free throw by Jill Rosselit pulled O-G within 39-38 before Molly Closson hit a 10 foot jumper after a Van Wert miss giving O-G a 40-39 lead. Van Wert then missed two shot and after the teams exchanged turnovers, a jumper by Kirsten Miller had the Titans up 42-39 with 2:12 left to play.

Van Wert came within a point three times in the remaining time, the final time being at 46-45 on a baseline jumper by Alexis Dowdy with 30.7 seconds left. Forced to foul, the Cougars sent O-G's Stephanie Hempfling to the line with 11 seconds left. While O-G struggled at the line all night, hitting only 15 of 34 at the line in the game, Hempfling sank both free throws pushing the Titan lead to three points. Van Wert had an opportunty to tie the game, but was called for traveling before they could get off a shot. The Cougars put O-G's Elissa Ellerbrock on the line with 1.8 seconds left and although she missed both attempts she was able to come up with a loose ball and dribble out the clock.

"I think we played a good solid 26, 27 minutes. We just had a little lapse here and there and Ottawa-Glandorf took advantage of it," Moonshower said. "They hit some big shots at the end. Our effort was there except for a couple of minutes. I am not displeased with the effort."

"Fortuntely we held our composure at the end," O-G coach Troy Yant said. "It wasn't pretty. I think we were 12 of 41 from inside the paint. We fought and fought and our defense kept us in the game. When we got the lead the girls did a good job of maintaining their composure and playing offense and defense when it mattered."

Defense was key for the Titans in the second half after the Cougars were getting too many good looks at the basket the first half in building a six point halftime lead (25-19). The second half saw O-G extend their defensive pressure forcing Van Wert to start their offensive sets near midcourt when they were unable to break the Titan press by going over top of it.

"We came out in a 2-2-1 press to give them a different look," Yant said. "Fortunately we were able to get a couple of quick turnovers off that, because I didn't want to sit back in a zone and let them get the ball inside, where they had an advantage on us in height. We just tried to pressure them and we put Dani Ellerbrock, a freshman, on the point and she did a great job making them start their offense out higher than they wanted."

With O-G stepping up on defense they were able to cut five points off the Van Wert lead in the third quarter. The Titans started the quarter with an 8-3 scoring run that had them within 28-27 on a Dani Ellerbrock basket. Van Wert responded with two free throws by Dowdy and one by Jenna Weigle to go up 31-27. O-G's Danielle Schroeder hit a free throw making it 31-28 before Cheyenne Handy scored for Van Wert. Four points by Dani Ellerbrock to end the quarter made it a one point game.

"The second half we were a little hesitant attacking their pressure. The first half I thought we did a good job of attacking it," Moonshower said. "We weren't going super fast, but we were seeing what they were giving us. The second half we kind of went sideways and they took advantage of that. They smell blood in the water and they go after the ball. We just never seemed to get over the hump to put it out of reach."

Butler had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars. Emilie Moonshower, Morrow and Dowdy all added seven points.

Elissa Ellerbrock led the Titans with 12 points. Dani Ellerbrock and Kristen Miller both had eight points.

Ottawa-Glandorf won the junior varsity game 38-21.

* * *

Van Wert 45: Butler 8; Moonshower 7; Morrow 7; Dowdy 7; Dunlap 5; Hall 3; Hulbert 3; Weigle 1.

Ottawa-Glandorf 48: E. Ellerbrock 12; D. Ellerbrock 8; Miller 8; Closson 6; Rosselit 5; Hempfling 4; Schroeder 4; Bellman 1.

Van Wert 14 11 8 12 - 45

Ottawa-Glandorf 11 8 14 15 - 48

Junior Varsity: Ottawa-Glandorf 48-45.

Three-point goals: Van Wert 3 (Moonshower, Morrow, Hulbert); Ottawa-Glandorf 0.

Rebounds: Van Wert (Butler 10, Weigle 5); Ottawa-Glandorf (Miller 5, Rosselit 5, Schroeder 5, Bellman 5).