MIDDLE POINT — Defense helped Columbus Grove break out to a big lead against Lincolnview and it was defense down the stretch that helped the Bulldogs to a 55-45 win against the Lancers in a Northwest Conference clash Friday night.
With the win, Columbus Grove improves to 4-2 overall and remains unbeaten in the NWC at 2-0. Lincolnview falls to 3-3 and 1-1 in the conference.
Columbus Grove head coach Chris Sautter said it wasn’t the prettiest of wins. .
“We made enough plays to win because it was ugly,” Sautter said. “We missed free throws. We missed layups and turned the ball over and it is definitely not the way you want to play but it is the first road win we have this year and this is a tough place to play.”
Lincolnview head coach Brett Hammons said this is the second straight game the team has gotten off to a slow start.
“We fought back but that was a pretty big hole to dig out of and we have done in back-to-back games,” Hammons said. “We battled for three quarters but against a good team like Grove you can’t have a quarter like we did.”
With their tenacious defense on display at the onset of the game, Columbus Grove opened up a 22-7 advantage after one period of play.
For most of the second and third quarter, the Lancers played catch-up as they tried to fight their way through Bulldog defenders and find opportunities to score. That would come midway through the third quarter when the Lancers, who were down 39-21, with 5:18 left in the third quarter, closed out the period with a 14-5 run to cut the lead to single digits, 44-35, going into the final eight minutes.
In the final period, the Lancers would get as close as eight, 49-37, with 4:51 left in the game. But down the stretch, the Bulldogs put one up more big defensive effort and limited the Lancers to four points in the final four minutes of the game.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” Sautter said. “We know they are a senior-laden team with (Zane)Miller and (Ethan) Kemler leading the way. You knew they weren’t going away. “
A trio of Bulldogs scored in double digits with Tayt Birnesser leading the way with 13 points. Blake Reynolds and Gabe Clement each scored 10 points.
“We do share the ball pretty well,” Sautter said. “We play through Blake and there are nights where he is going to score and their will be other nights when he facilitates. We are at are best when everyone’s involved.”
For the Lancers, Ethan Kemler, who kept the Lancers in the game throughout the night, finished with 16 points.
One area that hurt the Lancers was behind the 3-point arc where Lincolnview was 2 for 11 for the game.
“We missed shots and just had missed opportunities in the first quarter,” Hammons said. “We got to get confidence with our shooting. Right now we are not playing with confidence. We missed a lot of opportunities in this game.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.