Boys basketball: Brandt scores 35 as Leipsic defeats Columbus Grove

LEIPSIC — Leipsic’s Mason Brandt knows he is going to be looked on to score in crunch time and teams are going to come after him.

But the senior continues to come through in the clutch as he exploded for 19 of his game-high 35 points in the final quarter to help Leipsic to a 59-52 victory over Columbus Grove on Friday night.

“I knew being down five that I knew I had to take over,” Brandt said. “The team did a good job of getting me the ball down the stretch and going to the free throw line too.

Brandt added that he was able to finish around the rim and finish shots in the fourth quarter which was a struggle in the first three quarters. In the first eight minutes he was held to eight points and only four in the third quarter.

“Everybody knows I am the guy and I think it was that way last year so I don’t feel any pressure,” said Brandt who 7 of 9 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter and grabbed 10 rebounds on the night.

The game counted for both the Putnam County League and the Northwest Conference with Leipsic improving to 9-3 for the season and 2-1 in the NWC and 3-1 in the PCL. Columbus Grove falls to 6-4 on the year and suffers its first loss in the PCL and drops to 3-1 and falls to 1-2 in the NWC.

“Mason is a special player and that is obvious,” Viking head coach Chris Kuhlman said. “He really stepped it up after a few nights where he didn’t shoot the ball as well as he has been able to. He accepted the challenge and really played well. Big players make big shots and not just big shots but big plays. He got a bunch of rebounds and he did what he needed them to do.”

Kuhlman added that in the second half they decided to have someone other than Brandt bring the ball up the floor and have him play off the ball in order to get him better looks.

“He is normally our point guard but we took him off the ball,” Kuhlman said. We lean on Mason but we talked to Quin Schroeder (a sophomore) and said ‘hey, you’ve got to bring the ball up and this will help Mason and his effort defensively was better that way and obviously he made more shots.”

Brandt’s fourth quarter effort spearheaded the comeback for the Vikings who played behind the whole game. In the first three quarters, Columbus Grove built up leads of as big nine and going into the final eight minutes owned a 43-38 lead.

Then Brandt took over. The University of Findlay bound senior scored all but of Leipsic’s two points in the fourth quarter and outscored the Bulldogs 19-9.

Bulldog head coach Chris Sautter not only tipped his cap to Brandt’s performance but said his team not making points also contributed to Columbus Grove’s downfall. In the second half, the Bulldogs scored 20 points.

“He made some tough shots and made some free throws and we just didn’t get enough on the offensive end of the floor,’ Sautter said. “It didn’t matter what we did. If you are going to get fade away 20 footers I don’t know what you want me to tell you.

“It is what it is and he is a nice player but I think we lost that game on the other end of the floor as much as we did on that end because if we hit some buckets it might change things. We needed a couple of guys to step up that were good for us all year but weren’t good for us tonight. We need to get better and get some good play out of some guys. There is a lot of room for improvement.”

Bulldog Bo Birnesser led the way with 13 points followed Trey Sautter with 11 points. Zach Reynolds and Brayden Bellman with 10 points. Bellman also grabbed 10 caroms on the night.

After the first eight minutes, the Columbus Grove owned a 14-13 advantage and did it by limiting Brandt to two points in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs defense continued to contain the Viking standout senior at the onset of the second period and behind a pair of 3-pointers from Zach Reynolds and some big buckets from Brayden Bellman Columbus Grove opened up a 28-19 lead with 3:23 left in the half.

But Brandt, who had been held to one basket in the second period, spearheaded the Viking offensive assault and scored eight points in the final two minutes to slice the lead to 32-29 as the buzzer sounded for halftime.

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Leipsic’s Mason Brandt drives to the basket against Columbus Grove’s Bo Birnesser during Friday night’s game at Leipsic.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/01/web1_DSC_0146-1.jpgLeipsic’s Mason Brandt drives to the basket against Columbus Grove’s Bo Birnesser during Friday night’s game at Leipsic. Nate Reynolds | The Lima News

By Jose Nogueras

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Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.