SYLVANIA – It is common knowledge that it is difficult to beat a team more than once in a season. However Otsego, with the aid of two post players who hover around six feet tall, was able to hold off a smaller Delta squad, 41-39, to claim a Division III girls sectional basketball title on Saturday at Sylvania Southview.
Delta, who lost to the Knights 62-48 the previous Saturday, also had trouble scoring inside against Otsego’s Morgan Smoyer and Kim Forshey.
“And that’s how it was the first time we played them,” said Panther coach Ryan Ripke of his team’s difficulty getting points in the paint. “We knew going in that we were going to have to knock down some outside shots. They (Otsego) just did a nice job of pressuring us out front. They knew where our shooters were.
“We couldn’t get anything going on the inside because of their length. We obviously got them into foul trouble there in the first half, but we just couldn’t capitalize on it. We couldn’t take advantage of it.”
Both squads played stingy defense to keep the game low scoring and close, but it looked as if Otsego was about to pull away after Lauren Wynn’s long jump shot put them up eight, 30-22, with 2:01 left in the third quarter. However, a triple for Delta’s Jessi Davis at the 1:22 mark made it 30-25 after three, giving the Panthers the momentum they needed to stay within striking distance going forward.
Two Smoyer baskets around Morgan Mattimore’s three for Delta gave the Knights a six point lead early in the fourth, then Jessi Davis scored on a putback for the Panthers.
The two squads then traded buckets, the latter being another three for Morgan Mattimore as the Panthers pulled within 36-33 with 2:37 left to play. Then, with under two minutes left they resorted to fouling, often choosing either Smoyer or Forshey who both had struggled at the foul line.
Smoyer missed a pair of free throws at the 1:49 mark, but a rebound by Wynn and her two freebies put them ahead by five. But, Delta responded as Morgan Mattimore knocked down a pair from the line and after a Panther steal, Maddie Mattimore split a pair which made it 38-36 with still over a minute remaining.
It was Otsego’s Hannah Fonseca who stepped to the line with 1:06 left, as she knocked down both attempts to increase the advantage. A pair of empty trips by Delta around a missed front-end of a 1-and-1 by Forshey kept the score at 40-36 with around 35 seconds to go.
Forshey would split a pair for the final points for the Knights, and while Morgan Mattimore hit a long three with four ticks left, they did not have enough time to foul Otsego as the clock ran out on their season.
The Panthers got a bucket and one of two free throws from Morgan Mattimore in the opening stanza, but Smoyer had four points as the Knights led 7-3 after one.
“They were the difference in the game. Just their size,” added Ripke of Smoyer and Forshey. “We weren’t able to finish because of their size. They gave us some troubles in there. We were able to get to the free throw line a little bit but not enough.”
The Panthers were able to grab the lead at 12-11 after Morgan Mattimore’s bucket on a baseline drive with 3:05 left until halftime. Forshey then added a pair of hoops around free throws for the Panthers’ Jenni Davis, and Otsego’s Lexie Rieger tacked on a pair from the foul line to give the Knights a 17-14 lead at the break.
Morgan Mattimore led all scorers and finished with 25 of the 39 Delta points. Smoyer led Otsego with 12, while both Fonseca and Forshey finished with 10.
Otsego will next take on Archbold on Thursday in the district semifinal at Lake High School starting at approximately 8 p.m. The Blue Streaks claimed a sectional title with a 72-22 demolition of Rossford in the first game Saturday.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010