BENTON RIDGE — It might be a safe assumption that Leipsic’s Devin Mangas feels comfortable on Liberty-Benton’s basketball court.
In Tuesday’s Division IV boys basketball district semifinal win over Arlington, Mangas poured in 32 points.
Then in Friday’s district championship matchup with Putnam County League-foe Columbus Grove, Mangas improved on Tuesday’s performance by pouring in 34 points to lead Leipsic to a 66-59 win over Columbus Grove.
Friday’s win over Columbus Grove marks Leipsic’s first district championship since 1995.
Leipsic (22-4) will take on Edgerton on Tuesday at Bowling Green State University in a regional semifinal with tip-off set for 6:15 p.m.
Mangas also eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in Friday’s victory. Coming into the game, he needed eight points to record his 1,000th career point. A 3-pointer from the left corner with three minutes left in the first half put him over 1,000 points.
All night long, Mangas drove into the lane. The 6-foot-1 PCL Player of the Year got to the free throw line often, making 9-of-11 shots from the stripe.
Aric Schroeder added 11 points for the Vikings.
“I wasn’t really trying to ball-hog or anything,” Mangas said. “I was just letting the game come to me. My teammates found me open and I just had to knock down the shots. In front of a huge crowd like this, it means a lot.”
Will Vorhees led Columbus Grove (17-8) with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Derek Rieman scored 10 points and had four rebounds and three steals. Blake Hoffman, Brady Shafer and Jace Darbyshire each had nine points for Columbus Grove. Darbyshire had three 3-pointers, including two in the fourth quarter that kept his team close.
However, in the first quarter of action, it was Vorhees getting it done inside the paint. The 6-6 junior scored 10 points to keep the Bulldogs in the game. At the end of the first period, the game was knotted at 16.
By the halftime break, Leipsic pulled out to a 34-27 lead. Schroeder had two field goals, while Mangas and Derek Steffan (seven points) each had a 3-pointer. Mangas scored 12 points in the first half.
In the second half, Mangas took it over for the Vikings, pouring in 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. He was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
“I said it at the district semifinals that sometimes good players say, ‘Guys, we’re not going to lose tonight,’” Leipsic coach Scott Maag said. “And Devin was a man tonight, again. He’s playing phenomenal right now. We’re going to ride him and see what happens.”
By the end of the third quarter, Leipsic pulled out to a 53-43 lead. Mangas led the way for the Vikings, scoring 11 points.
In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs made a run, cutting the deficit to one, 55-54 at the 4:22 mark, on a 3-pointer by Darbyshire.
However, Mangas was automatic at the charity stripe down the stretch.
“We knew they (Columbus Grove) wouldn’t go away,” Maag said. “To their kids’ credit, they got it back to one. But I think they ran out of gas a little bit there. …They hit some big shots.”
Leipsic shot 50 percent from the field. Columbus Grove shot 49 percent from the floor.
For the game, Columbus Grove committed 16 turnovers. Leipsic turned the ball over just seven times.
For the free throw line, Leipsic was 11-for-14, while Columbus Grove was 9-for-13.
“Mangas was unbelievable tonight,” Columbus Grove coach Ryan Stechschulte said. “He made some tough shots, especially in the fourth quarter.
“We made a run to cut it to one (in the fourth quarter) and then he makes two hard 14-, 15-footers on the baseline and puts it back to five. He took over tonight.”
Senior Austin Brown said playing in the regional tournament is something he has dreamed of for a very long time.
“It’s a dream come true. As a little kid you think about this and now we’re going there. …It’s unbelievable.”