COLUMBUS GROVE — It was a special evening for Columbus Grove girls basketball Thursday night.
Four seniors were making their last appearance in front of the home crowd on Senior Night.
One of those four Columbus Grove seniors, Paige Bellman, has missed the entire 2017-18 season with a torn ACL. Bellman will be continuing her basketball career next school year at Division I University of Detroit Mercy.
Thursday night, Bellman got a chance to score one final time as she was allowed to start and make a lay-up at the beginning of the contest. Ada’s Anney Archer scored a basket off the opening tip. Bellman then converted an uncontested lay-up to knot the game at 2-2. After her basket, Bellman went to the bench for the remainder of the game.
However, after the celebratory baskets to start the game, Columbus Grove made it quite clear that it wanted to notch the Northwest Conference title – and in convincing fashion. Grove jumped out quickly and rolled to an 82-23 thrashing of Ada.
Coming into Thursday night’s action, Columbus Grove and Spencerville were tied for first place in the NWC. Spencerville lost to Crestview on Thursday, 56-43. With the Spencerville loss, Columbus Grove notched the NWC title outright.
“It really wasn’t what I expected (for) my senior year,” Bellman said. “But, I was really thankful that both coaches gave me the opportunity to finish out the season and just score one last time on my home court.”
Added Columbus Grove coach Brian Schroeder, “It’s obviously not been a senior year that she’s dreamed of. But it was a bittersweet moment tonight on Senior Night to go out on the court again and get a basket.”
Columbus Grove sophomore Abby Gladwell came off the bench and scored a game-high 24 points, including five 3-pointers to lead Columbus Grove (12-8, 7-1 NWC). Gladwell also made three steals at the defensive end. Angel Schneider poured in 17 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Carlee McCluer added nine points and four boards. Rylee Sybert added eight points and four steals for Grove.
“I’m just really happy for the girls,” Schroeder said. “Every team faces adversity. Every team has injuries. This year, we just had the injury bug worse than most years. Just to see the girls work hard and kind of persevere through and get some
big road wins against Bluffton and Delphos Jefferson; and then to come out on top tonight, is a good feeling.”
Maddie Gossard led Ada (4-17, 0-8 NWC) with nine points, including three 3-pointers. Archer added eight points and three steals for Ada.
Defensively, Grove made a total of 18 steals, while Ada turned the ball over 26 times on the night.
McClure scored seven points in the first quarter and Gladwell hit two 3-pointers to help lead Grove to a 23-9 lead by the first stop. Grove’s defensive pressure helped cause seven Ada turnovers in the first stanza.
Grove led 34-14 at the halftime break. Both teams struggled from the field in the second quarter. Grove was just 3 of 14 shooting, while Ada connected on just 2 of 9 of its shots.
Grove put the game out of reach in the third quarter, outscoring Ada 27-2 and extending its lead to 61-16 by the third stop. Ada turned the ball over 10 times in that eight-minute stretch.
“We obviously play zone, but we press and do some things out of it,” Schroeder said. “We tried to speed up the tempo of the game, early. We were not shooting well, but the tempo favored us.”
For the game, Grove dominated the boards, 45-23.
Grove shot 51 percent from the field, including 69 percent in the second half. Ada shot 23 percent from the floor.
“Early in the game I thought we got some shots, but we didn’t shoot well,” Ada coach Bill Taflinger said. “When you’re turning it over as much as we’re turning it over – when you finally get a shot, then you better make some.”
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.