Ottoville players celebrate as their Division IV regional championship victory over Old Fort at the Elida Fieldhouse comes to close on Saturday. The Lady Green clinched a place at State with a 59-42 win. Ottoville plays Berlin Hiland in the state semifinals on Thursday at 8 p.m. (DHI Media/Charlie Warnimont)
Ottoville players celebrate as their Division IV regional championship victory over Old Fort at the Elida Fieldhouse comes to close on Saturday. The Lady Green clinched a place at State with a 59-42 win. Ottoville plays Berlin Hiland in the state semifinals on Thursday at 8 p.m. (DHI Media/Charlie Warnimont)
ELIDA — After losing in the Division IV state semi-finals in 2013, Ottoville coach Dave Kleman remarked that sometime his program would return to state.

After a near miss two years ago, the Lady Big Green fulfilled their coaches prophecy by winning the Division IV regional tournament at the Elida Fieldhouse before a nearly packed house.

Behind a stifling defensive effort and timely offense, Ottoville grabbed an early lead and never looked back in beating Old Fort 59-42 Saturday night.

Ottoville (24-3), ranked seventh in the final AP poll, advances to the Division IV state semi-finals Thursday to face top ranked Berlin Hiland (27-1) at 8 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. Old Fort finishes the season at 24-4. This will be the sixth trip to state for an Ottoville girls team.

“This is our goal every year,” Kleman said. “We try to challenge ourselves throughout the season, so we have tough games, so we can get better and when we get to situations like this we know we can handle it. The opposing coach told me ‘we didn’t know how tough a schedule you had until we started researching you.’”

Although the Big Green play a demanding schedule, coach Kleman and his staff try to get as many players as they can playing time throughout the season. That paid off for the Big Green Saturday night as starters Brooke Mangas and Alicia Honigford both missed considerable playing time the first half saddled with two early fouls.

Stepping up for Ottoville in that situation were sophomore Kasey Knippen and junior Amber Miller. The two players were instrumental in a second quarter run that allowed the Big Green to expand their lead to double digits going into the half.

Ottoville scored the first seven points of the game before the Stockaders closed to within 13-7 after one quarter. The Big Green took a 16-7 lead on a CJ Kemper 3-pointer before Old Fort’s Allison Adelsperger answered back with a basket making it 16-9. That’s when Knippen and Miller combined for a 9-2 run that pushed the Ottoville lead to 25-11 with 2:56 left in the half.

Knippen scored five of the nine points as she had a 3-pointer after Miller started the run with a baseline jumper. The two players combined for six straight baskets to close the first half scoring for the Big Green.

“We knew the other girls were going to take over and do a great job,” Honigford said. “And we knew the second half was going to be our half and we came out strong. A lot of the girls really stepped up when a lot of the starters were out.”

Mangas and Honigford returned to start the third quarter and scored the teams first two baskets of the half after Adelsperger scored for Old Fort to start the quarter. Mangas added a free throw and Knippen a basket as Ottoville went on a 7-2 run pushing their lead to 13 points at 36-23.

Old Fort’s Jordan Magers opened the fourth quarter scoring before the Big Green went on an 8-0 run to take a 22 point lead at 50-28. Six of the eight points were scored after the Big Green grabbed offensive rebounds as Kemper had one and Knippen two putbacks in the run.

The closest the Stockaders came after that was 15 points with just over a minute left on four straight points by Adelsperger. Two free throws by Haley Hoersten closed out the scoring.

“We play a similar style to them, but we don’t see that style played against us very often,” Old Fort coach Jenny Ritzler said. “It’s just a different game that is played in Seneca County and the surrounding area. They were more physical, much more aggressive. When you are not playing against that consistently it’s hard to prevail against it or combat it.”

* * *

OTTOVILLE (59)

CJ Kemper 2-1-5; Bridget Landin 5-0-10; Brooke Mangas 4-1-9; Alicia Honigford 1-3-5; Alexis Thorbahn 0-0-0; Madison Knodell 1-0-2; Amber Miller 4-0-8; Kasey Knippen 7-0-15; Haley Hoersten 1-3-5; Abi Hilvers 0-0-0; Kylee Hoersten 0-0-0; Brynlee Hanneman 0-0-0; Totals 25-54 7-11 59

OLD FORT (42)

Allison Adelsperger 5-4-15; Sydney Clouse 2-0-4; Mackenzie Ward 3-1-7; Peyton Miller 2-3-7; Jordan Magers 2-0-4; Morgan Miller 0-5-5; Sydney Hossler 0-0-0; Whitney Bilger 0-0-0; Laini Gillett 0-0-0; Madisyn Spencer 0-0-0; Caylie Menkhoff 0-0-0; Totals 14-42 13-19 42

Ottoville 13 16 13 17 - 59

Old Fort 7 12 7 16 - 42

Three-point goals: Ottoville 2-11 (Kemper 1, Knippen 1); Old Fort 1-5 (Adelsperger 1); Rebounds: Ottoville 33 (B. Landin 6, H. Hoersten 5); Old Fort 27 (Adelsperger 8); Assists: Ottoville 12 (Knippen 4, B. Landin 3); Old Fort 3 Ward 2); Steals: Ottoville 15 (B. Landin 3, Mangas 3); Old Fort 9 (Ward 5); Blocks: Ottoville 1 (B. Landin 1); Old Fort 2 (Adelsperger 2); Turnovers: Ottoville 15, Old Fort 20.