COLUMBUS GROVE – Allen East’s Kaycee Rowe watches a lot of film. Maybe even more than a lot of coaches watch, her coach Jarrod Wehri says.
But it’s understandable if Rowe and the rest of the Mustangs fast forward past the first half of their 50-44 Northwest Conference girls basketball win over Columbus Grove on Thursday night to get to the second half.
That’s when it got good for NWC co-leader Allen East (12-5, 6-0 NWC).
Columbus Grove (12-6, 4-2 NWC) jumped out to a 20-13 halftime lead, and it took Allen East all of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to overcome that early deficit.
But once the Mustangs got the lead, they kept it.
“We talked a lot about offensive movement at halftime. We got pretty stagnant and complacent at times in the first half, just standing and trying to create one-on-one and that’s not our style. We got back to playing a little bit more our style in the second half,” Wehri said.
They also got back to playing with the players they wanted on the floor. Starting guard Aubri Woods was called for her second foul less than three minutes into the game and Rowe got her second after just five minutes.
Rowe led Allen East with 17 points and got 13 of those in the second half. London Richardson had 11 points, including three 3-pointers, and Carly Clum scored 10 points. For Columbus Grove, Lynea Diller had 12 points and nine rebounds and Sammi Stechschulte scored 11 points and had nine rebounds.
Columbus Grove was the aggressor early, even before the foul problems, forcing six Allen East turnovers in the game’s first four minutes.
And in the second quarter, the Bulldogs pitched a shutout on the Mustangs’ offense for more than seven minutes.
Rowe scored 16 second into the quarter and Allen East didn’t score again until she hit a lay-up one second before halftime.
Columbus Grove took its biggest lead of the night at 20-11 with two minutes left in the first half when Sydney McCluer hit back-to-back 3-pointers.
“You have to credit them. A lot of our struggles early, it was them,” Wehri said.
Allen East scored more points (14) in the first 4 ½ minutes of the second half than it scored in the entire first half. But it wasn’t until Rowe scored after stealing the ball with 5:10 left in the game that it took its first lead since being up 2-0.
Allen East shot 63 percent in the second half (12 of 19) after shooting 40 percent in the first two quarters and had only three second-half turnovers, compared to 13 in the first two quarters.
When McCluer picked up her fourth foul early in the second half, it had a big effect on the Bulldogs’ defense, coach Brian Schroeder said.
“She’s our best defensive player, and she’s an athletic, strong girl. When she isn’t out there, kind of setting the tone, it kind of leads into our team defense,” he said.
“There’s a reason Rowe has scored over 1,000 points in her career. She’s a pretty good player. They got her the ball, she got some good looks, and she was able to capitalize and kind of get them going,” Schroeder said.
“Sometimes when you hit a couple of shots, you kind of pick up your defensive pressure. They definitely did that. They got after it and got us uncomfortable and were able to force some turnovers. They came out and played hard in the second half and earned it,” he said.
Allen East’s win meant it remained in a tie with Crestview for the NWC lead.
“That’s on their minds,” Wehri said about Allen East’s players. “One of our main goals is to get better each and every day. They were saying, ‘Coach, we got better today.’ ”