|Titans end Panthers' tourney run, 36-32|
|Monday, March 10, 2014 1:23 PM|
By JIM LANGHAM • Progress Sportswriter
The Paulding Panthers’ hope of advancing to the regional basketball tournament was snuffed out at the last minute in a hard-fight battle with a strong, physical Ottawa-Glandorf team at Bowling Green State University on Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers led the powerful Titans in a hard-fought affair for three quarters but OG rallied in the final eight minutes to steal the thunder from the local squad.
Going into the fourth quarter, Paulding was tightly holding on to a 21-19 advantage, but the Titans, behind the strong play of 6-7 junior Noah Bramlage, stole the fire and outscored Paulding 17-11 in the final quarter to pull out a 36-32 win.
The Titans led 8-7 at the end of the first quarter, but Paulding surged early in the second stanza to lead at one point, 15-8, when Kyle Kauser buried a trey. Ottawa’s long ball specialist Brad Recker connected on a 3-point shot to close the gap to 15-11, but Quentin Vance hit a pair of free throws that weighed a ton to close out the half with Paulding on top 17-11.
Neither team shot well in the third quarter but OG managed to outscore Paulding 8-4 to close the gap to two points. Then, in the final stanza, the Titans’ “big” Bramlage managed to take over the scoring with nine points that brought his team back for the win.
Still, Paulding fought hard, with Kauser muscling up a putback with 2:45 remaining, but OG was leading 28-26 at the time.
The game then seesawed between two and four points but the Panthers could never get over the top. A pair of free throws by Bramlage with 10.3 seconds remaining closed the door on the Panthers.
“I never wanted it to end this way. This is a great group of kids,” said Paulding head coach Shawn Brewer. “They turned up their pressure the second half. We talked about it at halftime; we knew that they were going to do that.”
The Titan defense forced the Paulding attack into seven turnovers in the second half. In the first half, Paulding had just been attributed to two miscues.
“Our kids did a good job, but we didn’t get enough shots in the second half, and they started getting to the foul line,” said Brewer. “We were able to hold them to four field goals in that first half.”
The game was hotly contested and neither team shot well. From the field, Paulding connected on just 9-32 from the field for a 28 percent shooting percentage. The Panthers had been shooting consistently in the 45 to 50 percent range. Ottawa didn’t shoot much better, firing in 8-26 for 31 percent shooting.
Paulding dumped in 10-15 free throws while the Titans hit on 16-22 from the free throw line.
“I thought our defense once again did a nice job,” said Brewer. “If I would have known coming into the game that we were going to hold them to 36 points, I would have been happy with that. We just didn’t get off enough shots.”
Kauser told a press conference following that OG played a box-in-one defense but that didn’t really phase him.
“We played our best and did our best to score,” said Kauser. “We kept active and trying to keep it going. These guys don’t get credit for the defense that they played. They worked hard.”
Brewer praised local fans for their strong following and support of the team.
“We had a great following and the guys responded,” said Brewer. “We don’t get to do this very often, although we’ve been able to do it twice in the last four years. We have a wonderful crowd and community.
“Even at the end our guys believed in themselves,” continued Brewer. “I’m very happy for them. It was a great season by a great group of guys.”
Paulding finished the season with an admirable 18-7 record.