Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lexington achieves goals in state-ranked showdown loss to Ottawa-Glandorf

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LEXINGTON — The goal was simply to get better.

And the Lexington Minutemen, despite a 58-54 loss, did just that. In a battle with the AP Division III No. 3 Ottawa-Glandorf, AP Division II No. 2 Lexington came up just a bit short at the end but took a test and passed with a solid B+ in a mean-nothing nonconference game on Saturday night.

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After falling behind 18-8 in the first quarter, Lexington won the rest of the game 46-40 to take just a four-point loss in the end to a Division III state title contender.

“It took us a bit to get comfortable,” Lexington coach Scott Hamilton said. “When they went to the zone, we got excited and a couple of passes were just coming off of our hands, and we fumbled a little bit. We had seven turnovers in the first half, and that can be chalked up to being overly excited about a big game.”

In front of a packed house at Lexington, the young Minutemen with three sophomores in the starting lineup hung right with Ohio State University-bound Colin White, who led all scorers with 25. They forced the Titans to drop back in a 2-3 zone instead of their usual full-court trap press. Lexington had the Titans on the ropes but couldn’t quite complete the comeback despite an 18-11 advantage in the fourth.

“I thought we played well at times, but we just didn’t handle the zone again,” Hamilton said. “That is something we will be working on before the tournament. OG has some very special players and run their stuff very well, but I feel our guys handled it and adjusted at the half and my guys battled right down to the final buzzer.”

Seven Allen led Lexington with 15 points while Brayden Fogle had 13, Elijah Hudson scored 10, Joe Caudill had nine and Gavin Husty scored seven. Allen also added six rebounds, six assists and three steals for a solid all-round game.

Lexington finished the regular season 20-2 for just the third 20-win regular season in program history. The Minutemen will now have 13 days off before playing in a sectional championship game on March 1 at home against the winner of Clear Fork and Galion. While it is not ideal to have that much time off between games especially before the tournament, Hamilton will be ready to utilize every day to get his team prepared.

“We will use them,” Hamilton said. “It does give us some opportunities to do some things and give some days off. Those will be days where we focus on just us and our shooting and ball handling instead of preparing for the next team. It gives us a chance to get crisp and fresh while also tweaking our offense a little bit and maybe put in some different defenses to make us more dangerous.”

The goal during the extended break will be to get back to basics, get legs back under their players and make sure when the postseason finally arrives, the Minutemen will be ready to make a run at a Division II district championship.

“We are going to take it slow,” Hamilton said. “We aren’t going to go hard for 13 straight days. I don’t think we will take any days off, but it could be a day where we spend the entire time on the gun. Full day of some light stuff followed by a day where we really get after it. We will manage it the best we can and us as coaches will be doing a lot of scouting to prepare ourselves as well as we can.”

jfurr@gannett.com

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