Boys basketball: Kalida, Columbus Grove reach district semifinals

BLUFFTON — Put an “A” next to Grant Vorst’s name in the score book because he aced his biggest test in Kalida’s boys basketball season so far on Friday night.

Draw a star next to the only basket Drew Fersch scored in the Wildcats’ 41-31 overtime win over Leipsic in a Division IV sectional championship game on Friday night at Bluffton University because it was huge.

And put Kalida (12-12) into next week’s Division IV district tournament at Elida after it reversed a 64-50 regular-season loss to Leipsic (14-9).

Tyson Siefker scored 12 points and Justin Siebeneck had 10 points to lead Kalida’s scoring in its win over a fellow Putnam County League team. Mason Brandt’s 12 points led Leipsic.

But it was defense that was the centerpiece of the Wildcats’ win. They held Brandt, who had torched them for 38 points in January and averaged 28 points a game this season, to 12 points and just three points in the final 21 minutes, 38 seconds of the game.

The 6-5 senior, who is the PCL, NWC and District Player of the Year, got seven of those points in the second quarter and got off only 11 field goal attempts in the game.

Kalida did pretty well against the rest of the Vikings, too, holding Leipsic to 2 of 14 shooting on field goals in the second half and overtime.

“Coming in, I’d have been excited if we’d held him in the low 20s after what he did to us the first time,” Kalida coach Ryan Stechschulte said about his team’s defensive effort against Brandt.

“We were a little more aggressive this game. We sent a second guy at him immediately. The first time Grant Vorst didn’t guard him. We told Grant to put his nose in his (Brandt’s) chest and he was just unbelievable tonight. Grant was fantastic and we were able to use some other guys as secondary guys.”

Vorst said, “I didn’t want him to drop 40 or 38 or whatever it was again so I said, ‘I guess I’ll just do my best to stop him.’ And then my teammates would always come and make him get rid of the ball.

“He made a lot of shots and we weren’t prepared for it (in Leipsic’s earlier win). I guess tonight we were prepared for it. We wanted this one. It was a big one.”

Fersch said, “This time we put up a bear fight defensively. Once we finally clamped down after halftime we knew we could come out with a win.”

Leipsic led 24-15 at halftime. Kalida cut the lead to four points at 28-24 after three quarters and tied the game twice in the fourth quarter, the final time on a bucket by Jaden Smith to make it 30-30 with 2:33 to play, which is how regulation play ended.

Fersch dropped in a 3-pointer from the top of free throw circle early in the overtime to make it 33-30 after he had missed all five of his shots before that in the game. Kalida scored the first nine points of the overtime to clinch its win.

“Usually I’m not known for my shooting abilities, I’m more of a play-making, passer guy,” Fersch said. “I like that top (of the circle) area a lot. When it came to me I knew it was go big or go home, so I decided to go big.”

Kalida will play Columbus Grove at 7:30 Tuesday in a Division IV district semifinal at Elida.

Columbus Grove 38,

Delphos St. John’S 34

The Bulldogs came back from eight points down in the first half for their sectional championship in the second game at Bluffton on Friday night.

Trey Sautter’s 19 points led the Bulldogs (16-7), who have won eight of their last nine games.

Columbus Grove coach Chris Sautter said defense turned the game around for his team.

“I think they (St. John’s) scored 10 points in the second half. They were something like 5 for 9 on threes in the first half. We didn’t rebound very well, which has kind of been our Achilles heel all year. But down the stretch we found a way,” he said.

“I thought we did a nice job defensively. We did a better job locating shooters. We just grinded it out and made enough plays at the offensive end.

“Some of thse guys played on the teams the last couple years and had a lot of success. But I feel like for them, this is good. This is kind of like they did it. We talked about that with this year’s seniors from the beginning, that this is your team.”

St. John’s finished its season 11-13.

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Leipsic’s Mason Brandt puts up a shot against Kalida’s Jaden Smith (22) and EJ Miller (13) during a Friday Division IV sectional final at Bluffton University.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/02/web1_DSC_6999.jpgLeipsic’s Mason Brandt puts up a shot against Kalida’s Jaden Smith (22) and EJ Miller (13) during a Friday Division IV sectional final at Bluffton University. Nate Reynolds | The Lima News

Kalida’s Justin Siebeneck puts up a shot during a Friday Division IV sectional final against Leipsic at Bluffton University.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/02/web1_DSC_6944.jpgKalida’s Justin Siebeneck puts up a shot during a Friday Division IV sectional final against Leipsic at Bluffton University. Nate Reynolds | The Lima News

Landen Grothaus drives against Columbus Grove’s Zach Reynolds during a Friday Division IV sectional final at Bluffton University.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/02/web1_DSC_7219.jpgLanden Grothaus drives against Columbus Grove’s Zach Reynolds during a Friday Division IV sectional final at Bluffton University. Nate Reynolds | The Lima News

By Jim Naveau

[email protected]

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.

Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.