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Girls basketball: Balanced scoring a testament to Titans' trust

Mar. 15—DAYTON — When you outscore your opponents by an average of 20 points per game, it really doesn't matter who's doing the shooting.

The Ottawa-Glandorf girls basketball team proved that in the state semifinals against Portsmouth. Five different players scored at least seven points in a 47-40 win against Portsmouth. That game wasn't even that close, as the Titans led by 13 in the fourth quarter before the Trojans started hitting some 3-pointers.

It's all part of a team-first philosophy for the Titans (26-2), who are on the cusp of winning their first state championship in school history. They just have to make it past Columbus Afrocentric (27-2), the defending state champion, as they make their fourth trip to the state championship game since 2015.

"We kind of trust everyone, and none of us are really selfish," said Karsyn Erford, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard who leads the Titans with 13 points per game but settled for eight points and five assists Thursday. "We always look for the next pass, and I think that really helps out. The defense can't really shut down one person because that won't take away our whole offense. We have five people always going at it, and I think that really helps out our offense."

Against Portsmouth, the Titans predictably had a standout effort by Katie Kaufman, a 6-foot-1 senior. She scored 10 points and had 15 rebounds and five blocks. She averages 12.9 points per game this year.

"I think our offense is something that comes naturally," Kaufman said. "I would say we don't work on it a whole bunch. When we get going, it just goes into place. We see open people, and I think that we have a trust with everyone that when someone gets the ball, we trust them to either go to the rim and score or get to someone who can."

Against the Trojans, O-G pounded the ball into the paint, scoring 30 of its points near the basket. The players had a knack for finding an open player cutting through the lane, and the stat book rewarded them with 13 assists.

One of the beneficiaries of those assists was sophomore guard Alivia Grothause, a 5-foot-6 sophomore guard who averages 3.2 points per game but came off the bench for 10 against Portsmouth, including six in a first-half run to pull ahead by double-digits.

Coach Troy Yant, who's in his 12th year with the Titans, got amused grunts from Erford and Kaufman when he called Grothause a "young, skinny kid who played really tough in there at times."

"Obviously we need that because you need that extra score coming in off the bench," Yant said. "But it's not something that she hasn't really shown in practice. It's just, it's coming."

At different times of the season, different Titans stepped up for big nights. The starters all have similar scoring averages, whether it's Carlie Brinkman (7.8 points per game), Kaitlyn Kimmet (6.7) or Myka Aldrich (5.2).

Overall the Titans hit 44.8% of their shots this season, including an impressive 48.7% of them in the fourth quarter, when it matters most.

Now they'll face their toughest challenge, an Africentric team that outscored its opponents by 46 points per game and owns eight state championships.

They're led by 5-foot-11 senior guard Kamryn Grant, the Central District's Division III player of the year, who averages 17 points per game after coming back from an ACL injury last year. The Dayton-bound Grant scored 22 in Thursday's 62-35 win against previously undefeated LaGrange Keystone.

The Nubians also have high-scoring seniors Natiah Nelson (13 points per game) and Samairah Thompson (10 points and eight rebounds per game) back. Yant saw similarities to how Portsmouth prefers to play, who can head to the basket from the left or the right. He joked it would be a "long night and a short morning" between Thursday's game and Friday's practice to game-plan for the Nubiens.

"They're a machine," Yant said. "They have great athletes who are going to attack the rim. They're going to attack the boards. They're going to play relentlessly."

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.