GIRLS BASKETBALL: Top-ranked Ottoville escapes Minster at 20-0


MINSTER — Top-ranked Ottoville scored its 20th win of the regular season and validated the Division III Associated Press poll championship it won earlier in the week with a 43-36 over Minster in a match-up of two of the best small-school girls basketball programs in Ohio on Saturday.

 If a run through the Midwest Athletic Conference gauntlet all season hadn’t prepared the Minster girls basketball team enough, the final two weeks put the Wildcats on the court with two of Ohio’s best in non-conference action.

Minster head coach Nann Stechschulte and her team now hope to use that when they play either Fort Recovery or St. Henry next Saturday in a sectional title game at Coldwater.

“Our schedule prepares us for just about anybody,” Stecschulte said. “If this is the number one team in the state, we were there with them and had opportunities that we let slip away. That’s what Tara (Clune) said after the game. We can play with anyone, now we just need to get it done.”

Minster’s ambitious schedule this season ended in a meatgrinder of games over the final two weeks of the regular season. Minster finished off the season with five games over the final three weeks of the season that included losses to 17-win New Knoxville, 20-win Anna and unbeaten Ottoville along with wins over Versailles and St. Henry.

The final test before entering tournament play was playing the role of road block to a perfect season against the top-ranked team in the state for the second straight Saturday.

The Wildcats (14-6) came one dryspell away from playing spoiler.

“That’s why we come down to play these guys,” Ottoville head coach Dave Kleman. “It’s a battle.”

The Wildcats played even with the Big Green in three of the fourth quarters, but the second quarter in which Minster shot just 2-of-13 and got outscored 12-5 proved to be the difference.

“We came out attacking and then we were five up and then we were six down,” Stechschulte said. “That was a span where we got back on our heels and stopped attacking.”

Abby Siefker scored a game-high 20 points for Ottoville. Siefker went 5-of-19 from the floor and hit 10-of-14 free throws.

“To put Siefker on the line that many times, we’ve got to do a better job than that,” Stechschulte said.

Minster actually made three more baskets from the field than the Big Green, but Ottoville went to the free throw line 29 times to Minster’s eight attempts at the charity stripe.

“It came down to that, really,” Stechschulte said. “But despite all that we were down six points, we miss a lay-up and miss a little bunny inside and things are different. We had our opportunities.”

Minster’s Bridget Geiger led the Wildcats with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Tara Clune added 11 points while battling Siefker in the paint all game.

Ottoville went 20-0 in the regular season for the second time in three seasons.