By Ryan Hines
Celina guard Seth Staugler was the shortest players on the floor Friday night at the Fieldhouse as Ottawa-Glandorf payed a visit for a Western Buckeye League encounter.
Staugler may be short in stature, but the senior played like the biggest player on the floor scoring a game-high 14 points while leading the Bulldogs to a 47-40 win over Ottawa-Glandorf.
Celina still sits atop the WBL along with Elida, St. Marys and Van Wert with a mark of 5-1 in league play and the Bulldogs are now 10-4 overall while riding a six-game winning streak.
"I'm really tickled to be where we're at right now and our kids are getting more and more confidence with each game but we have a long way to go in the league and we just have to take it on game at a time," said Celina head coach Mike Kanney.
"I couldn't be happier to be 5-1 in the WBL right now," said Staugler after the game. "It's a team game and I got some good looks because of my teammates penetrating and passing off. Everybody in our locker room believes in each other and we are starting to gel as a team." Ottawa-Glandorf, the defending league co-champion along with Shawnee, falls to 5-9 on the year and 3-3 in league play, virtually but not matchmatically out of the WBL title race.
"The league is still up for grabs with Celina, St. Marys, Van Wert and Elida but Celina has all the top dogs out of the way on their schedule in the league," said Sweet. "I think that two losses can get you a share of the league this year, I really do."
Staugler was the difference in the this game as the 5-7 Bulldog sharp shooter hit 4-of-7 from three-point range, each seemingly coming in big situations.
"Seth really stepped up big for us and he's been getting more confidence in the past few games and he's been able to knock down the three and kids are finding him," said Kanney. "He can shoot, but at the same time, he can also penetrate and get other people shots too."
"Staugler had a tremendous game for them," lauded Sweet, who is in his 26th season at the helm of the Titans. "We allowed him to ge the hot hand and then we didn't do anything to stop him from getting open looks. We lost him in our zone a few times and he hit stepped up and hit big shots. He gave them a lot of inspiration and leadership."
Celina trailed 21-18 at the half, but opened the third quarter with nine straight points in a patient offense that O-G had no answer for giving the Bulldogs a 27-21 advantage. Aaron Braun had four points, Staugler hit a three and Brandon Wurster added a deuce.
"We talked at halftime that we had to attack their 2-2-1 press because I though that we were playing passive against it," said Kanney. "We got the ball inside and passed out of it for some open shots and that's what we needed to do against their defense."
"In the first half we kind of just stood still against their zone but after halftime we started to move the ball around better and took sharper cuts to the basket and we came out strong in the second half," stated Staugler.
Kanney and the rest of the Celina fans got a scare one minute later when Wurster went down hard to the floor on an O-G foul and immediately clutched his left knee. Wurster iced the knee on the bench for nearly three minutes of game action but returned early in the fourth quarter and played most of the rest of the quarter.
Holding a five-point lead after the third quarter, Celina went on a 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter and put the game away behind a strong performance by Scott Luthman at the free-throw line. Luthman struggled from the field hitting just 2-of-9 from the floor, but the junior hit all eight of his free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter to ice the game for the Green and White.
It was a struggle offensively for Ottawa-Glandorf as the Titans shot just 33 percent from the floor and went to the free-throw line just five times.
"I thought that we played fairly well in the first half but we didn't hit a shot in the second half," said Sweet. "It was a combination of their good defense and our inability to hit shots when we had open looks."
Jordan Pothast led O-G with 11 points as the only player in double figures for the Titans.
Celina is back in action tonight on the road at Toledo Central Catholic.