Madison Neidert of Fort Jennings (13) tries to find some space to operate versus the tough defense of Ottoville’s Cassandra Kemper during Tuesday night’s girls hardwood clash at The Fort. (DHI Media/Jim Metcalfe)
Madison Neidert of Fort Jennings (13) tries to find some space to operate versus the tough defense of Ottoville’s Cassandra Kemper during Tuesday night’s girls hardwood clash at The Fort. (DHI Media/Jim Metcalfe)

FORT JENNINGS — The Fort Jennings girls basketball team played inspired ball against Putnam County archrival Ottoville and stayed within striking distance — for the first half.

The long, lean, experienced and deep Lady Big Green turned it on in the second half and ended up swamping the Lady Musketeers 60-32 inside The Fort of Fort Jennings High School during Tuesday-night non-league cage action.

A 27-8 spread in the third period put the game away for the green-and-gold (4-0).

“The first half, it was a typical early-season time when you’re trying to figure out the rhythm, spacing and pace of your offense. The second half, we got into that a lot better,” Ottoville head coach Dave Kleman explained. “We want to push the tempo and get the game going at a faster pace because of our depth; we have a lot of confidence in our bench and feel we can take advantage of other teams in that area. That’s why you see us in some form of defense to try and get the pace going up-tempo. We have a lot of weapons in our starting five and off the bench and we’re not afraid to use them.”

Fort Jennings head coach Bill Calvelage felt his girls were playing extra hard for him, still mourning his father’s death.

“I got a little choked up today before the game because everyone was bringing him to mind. I had to remind myself to focus on the game,” he reflected. “The girls came in today and really played with heart and determination, which I am confident they do every game. What hurt us was not hitting some shots in the first half that could have kept it closer and then the turnovers. We played two solid quarters; we need to play four to compete against a State-caliber team like Ottoville. Once they started to hit some shots, their depth and length took over defensively. We just have to keep working to play four solid quarters.”

The Musketeers (1-3) used a 2-3 zone defense to bottle up the Ottoville big girls inside in the first period and it worked as the visitors could only hit 4-of-11 shots. Unfortunately for the hosts, 33 turnovers — six on the opener — prevented them from being more effective.When Quinley Schlagbaum buried a 3-ball form the left corner with 4.1 seconds showing, the visitors led 9-4.

Fort Jennings played the zone again the second period but the Lady Big Green’s Kasey Knippen got hot, knocking down four shots from the field as the visitors began to build some steam as they canned 7-of-17. On the other end, the Lady Musketeers turned it over 10 more times. When Bridget Landin dropped a trifecta from the key with 16 seconds showing in the quarter, Ottoville’s lead was 25-13.

The Big Green, looking to push the tempo in some form of pressure defense — whether in a full look or a half-court set — got it really rolling in the third period. With Knippen staying hot with three treys and a deuce, plus Brynlee Hanneman scoring inside for three deuces, the green-and-gold downed 11-of-16 shots, including 5-of-8 beyond the arc. That was aided by nine more host miscues as the lead grew to 52-21 on an inside basket by Hanneman with 42 seconds showing.

Ottoville’s biggest advantage was 60-26 in the fourth period on a drive by Landin at 5:30 before the benches began to empty on the side of both squads.

In junior varsity action, Ottoville — led in scoring by Josie Geise’s 15 — grabbed a 54-15 rout.

Both teams are off until Saturday, when Fort Jennings visits Shawnee at noon (JV time) and Ottoville is at Bluffton for a varsity-only clash starting at 2 p.m.

VARSITY

OTTOVILLE (60)

Cassandra Kemper 1-3 1-2 3, Brynlee Hanneman 4-6 0-0 8, Bridget Landin 7-16 0-0 15, Haley Hoersten 0-0 0-0 0, Quinley Schlagbaum 1-2 0-0 3, Amber Miller 0-6 0-0 0, Kasey Knippen 9-13 0-0 23, Emily Landin 1-3 0-0 2, Abi Hilvers 2-3 0-0 6, Josie Geise 0-2 0-0 0, Alexa Honigford 0-0 0-0 0, Peyton Wannemacher 0-0 0-0 0, Kylee Hoersten 0-1 0-0 0, Tori Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Grace Gamble 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 1-2 60.

FORT JENNINGS (32)

Annabelle Wisner 1-5 0-2 2, Makenna Ricker 3-6 0-0 6, Kayleigh Klir 0-0 0-0 0, Madison Neidert 2-3 0-0 4, Marissa Krietemeyer 2-2 0-0 5, Erica Rau 2-5 0-0 4, Kristen Luersman 4-7 0-0 9, Christina Gerdeman 0-0 0-0 0, Rachel Kneale 0-1 0-0 0, Lillian Wisner 1-4 0-0 2, Chloe Wieging 10-2 0-0 0. Totals 15-35 0-2 32.

Score by Quarters:

Ottoville 9 16 27 8 - 60

Fort Jennings 4 9 8 11 - 32

Total Field Goals/Percentage: Ottoville 26-55/47.3, Fort Jennings 15-35/42.8. Free Throw Percentage: Ottoville 50, Fort Jennings 0. Three-Point Field Goals/Percentage: Ottoville 7-21/33.3 (Knippen 3, Hilvers 2, B. Landin, Schlagbaum), Fort Jennings 2-4/50 (Krietemeyer, Luersman). Rebounds: Ottoville 21/8 off. (B. Landin 6), Fort Jennings 29/9 off. (L. Wisner 6). Assists: Ottoville 14 (B. Ladin 5), Fort Jennings 6 (Luersman/L. Wisner 2). Steals: Ottoville 19 (B. Landin 6), Fort Jennings 8 (A. Wisner/Rau/L. Wisner 2). Blocks: Ottoville 1 (Hanneman 1), Fort Jennings 1 (Rau 1). Turnovers: Ottoville 14, Fort Jennings 33. Fouls: Ottoville 10, Fort Jennings .

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JUNIOR VARSITY

OTTOVILLE (54)

Josie Geise 7-1-15, Tori Thomas 2-0-5, Peyton Wannemacher 3-0-6, Grace Gamble 2-1-5, Riley Wannemacher 0-1-1, Alexa Honigford 5-1-12, Alayna Leis 1-2-4, Kylee Hoersten 0-2-2, Faith Gamble 2-0-4. Totals 20-2-8/23-54.

FORT JENNINGS (15)

Kayleigh Klir 1-0-2, Elizabeth Howbert 0-0-0, Reilly Fitzpatrick 0-0-0, Raylee Clay 0-0-0, Maddison Dickman 0-0-0, Emilee Calvelage 1-5-7, Christina Gerdeman 0-0-0, Jessie Foust 3-0-6, Erica Crawford 0-0-0. Totals 5-0-5/12-15.

Score by Quarters:

Ottoville 12 15 16 11 - 54

Fort Jennings 4 4 4 3 - 15

Three-point goals: Ottoville, Thomas, Honigford; Fort Jennings, none.