By BRIAN LESTER
OTTAWA — Everything went the way of Columbus Grove right out of the gate.
The Bulldogs scored at will, played aggressive defense and stole every ounce of momentum possible in their Division IV sectional final against Leipsic Friday night at Robert J. Hermiller Gymnasium.
Columbus Grove led 19-1 at the end of one quarter and never looked back as it rolled to a 55-33 win over the Vikings. In the opening sectional final, Miller City used a late surge to hold off Kalida 52-44.
CG head coach Ryan Stechschulte was thrilled with the way his team came out and set the tone.
“We played really good defense, and that set up everything else for us,” Stechschulte said. “We made them work for shots and were able to get easy baskets in transition off our defense.”
Jace Darbyshire drilled a 3-pointer to open the game and would score six points in the opening quarter, including two off a spinning jumper in the lane where he drew a foul. His free throw put the Bulldogs up 15-1.
Will Vorhees was tough to stop inside as he scored six points in the quarter as well.
Darbyshire finished his night with 18 points and Vorhees scored 16 points for the Bulldogs (14-9), who advance to the district semifinals on Tuesday at night in Elida.
“Those two gave great efforts and did a good job of scoring for us early in the game,” Stechschulte said. “But we had some other guys step up, too, throughout the game. It was a good team effort.”
Leipsic had no answer for the effort of the Bulldogs. The Vikings (12-12), who advanced to the state final four a season ago, trailed 35-16 at halftime and were down 43-27 at the end of three.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, especially early, and being a young team had something to do with that,” Leipsic head coach Scott Maag said. “We had a hard time defending them, too. It just wasn’t our night.”
Perhaps the story could have been different had the Vikings been able to hit free throws in the third. They missed on seven of their eight attempts in the quarter.
“Missing those free throws hurt us,” Maag said. “If we hit five our six of those, it’s a different game going into the fourth quarter. You have to do the little things right in a tournament game.”
Logan Diller nearly scored in double figures as he scored nine points, all of them coming in the second quarter.
CG was 19-of-37 from the field and limited Leipsic to 11-of-43 shooting from the floor. Zach Kuhlman led the Vikings with 16 points.
“The season is a grind, but this is the time of the year that is fun,” Stechschulte said. “We came out ready to play and now we’ll get back at it in practice and get ready for our next challenge.”
It was little tighter between Miller City and Kalida. Miller went into halftime with a 20-17 lead and took a 33-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Cory Heuerman stepped up for the Wildcats in the third, drilling a jumper to put MC up 25-23 and then coming up with a steal and layup for a 27-25 lead.
His layup in the closing seconds of the third put Miller City in front by three.
But Kalida wouldn’t go away, trimming the lead to 40-38 after a 3-pointer by Luke Langhals with 2:40 remaining.
Seven free throws and a layup by Jackson Lammers helped give Miller City the breathing room it needed to pull away for good. The layup by Lammers put the Wildcats on top 47-40 with under a minute remaining.
“At halftime we talked about wanting to make the big plays that would help us win the second half,” Miller City head coach Bryan Kuhlman said. “We were able to keep the lead and finally get some separation late in the game.”
Miller City (15-8) used a balanced attack to get the job done.
Heuerman, Jacob Gerten and Adam Drummelsmith each scored 11 points while Adam Niese added 10 points for the Wildcats, who shot 14-of-33 from the field and continue to exceed expectations.
“It’s been about three or four years since we’ve won a sectional title, Kuhlman said. “Not much was expected of us this year because we didn’t have a lot of experience. But we’ve surprised some teams and we’re excited about moving on.”
Kalida (14-10) was led by Devin Kortokrax, who scored 13 points. Randy Zeller added 10 points. Miller City did a good job of closing out on shooters and making it tough for Kalida to get inside.
“We aren’t the biggest team, but we did a really good job with our help defense,” Kuhlman said. “We took away a lot of opportunities and stepped up when we had to. I’m proud of our effort.”
A. Langhals 2-1–6, L. Langhals 3-0–9, Kortokrax 5-2–13, Zeller 3-2–10, Gerding 1-0–2, Gerdeman 2-0–4, Unverferth 0-0–0, Swift 0-0–0, Maag 0-0–0, Laudick 0-0–0, Roebke 0-0–0, Miller 0-0–0. TOTALS: 16-43 5-11–44.
miller city (15-8)
M. Lammers 0-2–2, J. Lammers 3-0–7, Gerten 2-7–11, Heuerman 5-0–11, Drummelsmith 3-2–11, A. Niese 1-8–10, Kuhlman 0-0–0, T. Niese 0-0–0, Hermiller 0-0–0, Snyder 0-0–0. TOTALS: 14-33 19-32–52.
Kalida 10 7 13 14 — 44
Miller City 9 11 13 19 — 52
3-Point GOALS: Kalida 7-26 (L. Langhals 3, Zeller 2, A. Langhals & Kortokrax 1); Miller City 5-19 (Drummelsmith 3, J. Lammers & Heuerman 1).
rebounds: Kalida 27 (Zeller 10); Miller City 22 (A. Niese 5).
turnovers: Kalida 16, Miller City 7.
Cupp 1-0–2, M. Schroeder 3-1–8, Brown 1-4–6, Kuhlman 6-2–16, Haselman 0-0–0, G. Schroeder 0-0–0, Mangas 0-0–0, Hiegel 0-0–0, Scheckelhoff 0-0–0, R. Schroeder 0-0–0, Lopez 0-0–0. TOTALS: 11-43 8-19–33.
columbus grove (14-9)
Darbyshire 4-9–18, Brubaker 3-0–7, Clement 1-0–2, Warnecke 1-1–3, Diller 3-3–9, Vorhees 7-2–16, Grothaus 0-0–0, Stechschulte 0-0–0, Bogart 0-0–0, Jones 0-0–0, Kohls 0-0–0, Neu 0-0–0. TOTALS: 19-37 15-17–55.
Leipsic 1 15 11 6 — 33
Columbus Grove 19 16 8 12 — 55
3-Point GOALS: Leipsic 3-11 (Kuhlman 2, M. Schroeder 1); Columbus Grove 2-7 (Darbyshire & Brubaker 1).
rebounds: Leipsic 20 (Kuhlman 5); Columbus Grove 32 (Brubaker & Vorhees 8).
turnovers: Leipsic 14, Columbus Grove 17.
Send an E-mail to Brian Lester