Ottoville’s Ryan Bendele (with ball) takes contact from Fort Jennings’ senior Luke Trentman during the teams’ Sectional final clash at Van Wert High School Friday night. (DHI Media/Pat Agler)
Ottoville’s Ryan Bendele (with ball) takes contact from Fort Jennings’ senior Luke Trentman during the teams’ Sectional final clash at Van Wert High School Friday night. (DHI Media/Pat Agler)
VAN WERT — No matter the time of year or the opponent, a basketball team simply can’t dig itself a 22-point halftime led and expect to come out on top.

The Fort Jennings boys team did just that Friday night, falling behind archr0val Ottoville 37-15 after 16 minutes.

Though the Musketeers tried as they might, they could never climb out of that hole in falling 69-53 in a Division IV Sectional final inside the Van Wert High School Cougars’ Den.

The Big Green (15-8) couldn’t have drawn up the first half any better. Their length on defense — especially out of 1-3-1 scheme — kept the ball away from 6-5, 245-pound center Brandon Wehri much of the night and when he did get it, shots were hard to come by. They also held the Musketeers (15-8) to 15-of-48 shooting, though they were 10-of-28 beyond the arc. After the last tie of the game at 8-8 on a triple by Musketeer senior Luke Trentman around the 4-minute mark, they did not score again in the opening period. A triple by Ryan Bendele from the right wing at 2:24 gave the green-and-gold the lead for good and Josh Thorbahn (1:59) added a half-court steal and layin and Bendele a pair of foul shots at 1:26 for a 15-8 lead after eight minutes.

It only got better for the Big Green in the second period; conversely, it got worse for the orange-and-black. Ottoville singed the nets for 7-of-13 shooting, especially with Thorbahn having the hot hand early with three 3-pointers from the left wing (11 points in the quarter), while Fort Jennings only mustered 2-of-11. Logan Kemper also got into the act for Ottoville with eight points. Thus, Ottoville built its biggest lead of the half to 37-145 on Kemper’s drive at 22 seconds before Cole Horstman (bothered by foul trouble before fouling out) hit a single at 11.4 seconds to get his Musketeers within 37-15.

After Jennings would score early in the third, Ottoville twice rebuilt the lead back to 22 but Ian Finn had something to say about the outcome for the Musketeers. He splashed four triples in the third period to help lead a charge and with Wehri finally getting free — hitting 5-of-5 at the foul line — they twice were within 11 points, the second at 21.2 seconds on two Wehri singles, before Thorbahn nailed his own two freebies at 9.5 seconds for a 55-42 margin.

With foul trouble deepening for both teams in the final period — with each team having several starters or key subs saddled with fouls — Fort Jennings had to try and extend the game by forcing turnovers with its pressure. They did force four miscues but could only down 2-of-10 shots, though they were 6-of-9 at the line. Ottoville was 3-of-5 shooting the ball but 8-of-13 at the line. Thus, the Musketeers simply could not rally in this contest, giving both coaches a chance to sub in the deeper reserves and allowing Musketeer head coach Ryan Schroeder to give his seniors: Wehri, Horstman, Finn, Trentman, Erik Klausing and Jeff Hoersten; a final curtain call.

“It was good for us to get off to a good start, to get the seniors out early and hit some shots. The leadership they (Bendele, Kemper, Nick Moorman, Zane Martin, Keagan Leis and Andy Schimmoeller) have given this team has been tremendous; the younger guys have followed their leadership,” Ottoville head coach Keith Utendorf explained. “We threw in a 1-3-1 defense because we felt we could get some good results with it and did, at least the first half; once they adjusted, we had to adjust. Both teams had to deal with foul trouble but I felt our depth helped us better weather that, especially with the game Josh played.”



Ottoville advances to tangle with Crestview at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Elida District.


Joseph Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Bendele 2-2 5-6 11, Andy Schimmoeller 0-0 2-2 2, Dalton Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Kemper 6-10 4-6 18, Ryan Suever 2-3 4-8 8, Keagan Leis 0-0 0-0 0, Drew Fisher 0-1 2-2 2, Nick Moorman 1-6 0-1 3, Jaden Schnipke 0-0 0-0 0, Zane Martin 0-2 0-0 05, Josh Thorbahn 7-9 8-10 24. Totals 18-33 25-35 69.


Simon Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Reese Von Sossan 0-0 0-0 0, Cole Horstman 1-5 3-5 5, Brandon Wehri 2-3 7-12 11, Ian Finn 7-21 2-2 22, Luke Trentman 1-2 1-2 3, Ian Ricker 0-5 0-0 0, Erik Klausing 4-12 0-0 12, Jeff Hoersten 0-0 0-0 0, Carson Kazee 0-0 0-0 0, Derek Luersman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-48 13-21 53.

Score by Quarters:

Ottoville 15 22 18 14 - 69

Fort Jennings 8 7 27 11 - 53

Total Field Goal Percentage: Ottoville 54.5, Fort Jennings 32.6. Free Throw Percentage: Ottoville 71.4, Fort Jennings 61.9. Three-Point Field Goals/Percentage: Ottoville 8-15/ 53.3 (Thorbahn 3, Bendele 2, Kemper 2, Moorman), Fort Jennings 10-28/35.7 (Finn 6, Klausing 4). Rebounds: Ottoville 30/7 off. (Kemper/Moorman 6), Fort Jennings 22/11 off. (Finn/Trentman/Wehri 5). Assists: Ottoville 8 (Schimmoeller/Moorman 2), Fort Jennings 9 (Trentman 6). Steals: Ottoville 5 (Bendele/Kemper/Suever/Fisher/Thorbahn 1), Fort Jennings 2 (Klausing/Ricker 1). Blocks: Ottoville 4 (Suever 2), Fort Jennings 3 (Trentman/Horstman/Wehri 1). Turnovers: Ottoville 11, Fort Jennings 10. Fouls: Ottoville 23, Fort Jennings 24.