BENTON RIDGE — A thriller and a one-sided win on Tuesday night set up a Putnam County League rematch in the Division IV boys basketball district championship game at Liberty-Benton.
Columbus Grove knocked off Vanlue 47-45 on a 3-pointer by Collin Grothaus with less than a second to play in one semifinal. In the other, Leipsic rolled to a 71-50 win over Arlington.
The Vikings (21-4) will take on the Bulldogs (16-7) for a trip to the regional at 7 p.m. Friday.
To say Leipsic doesn’t rely on a post player might be an understatement.
The Vikings want to push the tempo and try to beat teams in transition.
In Tuesday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal at Liberty-Benton, Leipsic got Arlington (17-6) on the run early on and never let up.
Devin Mangas led Leipsic with a game-high 32 points, on 14-of-17 shooting from the field. The majority of Mangas’ points came off transition. He also made four steals at the defensive end and pulled down five rebounds. Zach Kuhlman added 11 points and six boards for the Vikings.
For the game, Leipsic shot a torrid 65 percent from the floor. In the first half, the Vikings made 16-of-20 from the floor for 80 percent.
“We just fly around the court like it’s our job,” Mangas said. “We’re really athletic. We’re going to beat people with our speed and that’s what we did tonight.
“I figured the big guy (Michael Blunk) would help (on penetration), then I would dish it off to Austin (Brown). But no one helped out, so there were some uncontested layups.”
Blunk led Arlington (18-6) with 22 points, while Blaiz McBride added eight points for the Red Devils.
Arlington struggled from the field, shooting 37 percent for the game.
Arlington started the game well, getting out to a 7-4 lead. However, Leipsic caught fire, going on a 9-0 run and pushing out to a 13-7 lead by the first stop. In the first eight minutes of action, Arlington committed seven turnovers.
In the second quarter, Leipsic’s defensive pressure helped cause six Arlington turnovers and the Vikings made 10-of-11 shots from the floor, en route to a 24-8 period. By the break, Leipsic led 37-15.
“It’s the story of how we played all year,” Leipsic coach Scott Maag said. “We want to put pressure on you defensively and offensively. And every day we work on getting after it.”
Arlington settled down in the third quarter and actually cut the deficit to 12 points, 44-32 on a 3-pointer by McBride.
However, Leipsic closed out the quarter strong, extending its lead to 53-36 by the end of the third period.
“I took a look at the shot chart at halftime and I think we took three shots outside,” Maag said. “We were attacking the glass and they had no answer. We said that they were going to come out that third quarter and give us their best shot and they did. But to our kids’ credit, they just kept fighting. I think we wore them down with our pace.”
For the game, Arlington turned the ball over 23 times. Leipsic committed 16 turnovers.
“The flood gates opened,” Arlington coach Jason Vermillion said. “That’s what they do (push the tempo). We did have a good start, but they sped us up and we started playing the tempo that they wanted, instead of what we needed to play.”
Added Mangas, “Our speed really helps. And our defensive pressure helps turn it over a lot. And those turnovers turn into easy layups.”
For Columbus Grove, Grothaus led the way with 22 points. His 3-pointer at the buzzer was his third of the game. Will Vorhees added eight points.
Vanlue (18-6) got 15 points from Zach Garber and 13 from Nick Hagerty.