COLUMBUS GROVE — The game was played a day ahead of its originally scheduled date because of the possibility of a snow storm and Kalida was also a step ahead from the beginning.
Kalida got the lead early and never trailed in a 46-39 boys basketball win over Columbus Grove on Friday night in a Putnam County League match-up in which both teams came into the game unbeaten in the league.
The Wildcats (9-4, 3-0 PCL) jumped out to a 24-12 lead late in the second quarter and were up by 16 points with three minutes to play before the Bulldogs (8-3, 3-1 PCL) narrowed the gap.
Luke Erhart scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds for Kalida. Owen Recker had 14 points and seven rebounds and Trevor Lambert had 10 points and six rebounds.
“Once we got settled in about the middle of the first quarter we did a better job of getting the ball where we wanted and getting them spread out, making them guard more of the floor,” Kalida coach Ryan Stechschulte said. “Offensively, even though we only scored 46 points, I thought we were pretty efficient.”
Recker said, “We pushed the ball. We practice that a lot, getting the ball up, getting good touches, getting good post touches. We have a lot of guys who can score the ball consistently. We just got it in hands that were hot and they went in.”
While Kalida found hot hands, Columbus Grove searched unsuccessfully for them in the middle two quarters, when it hit just 4 of 20 shots.
The Bulldogs scored in the first minute of the second quarter to cut Kalida’s lead to one point, 13-12, but didn’t score again for the next 6 ½ minutes as the Wildcats’ lead grew to 12 points. By the end of the third quarter Kalida led 37-21.
“They shot the ball way better than we did,” Columbus Grove coach Chris Sautter said.
“We got shots we wanted and kids we wanted shooting them. But you just have to make them. Their length bothered us a little bit. We couldn’t get anything going around the basket and we couldn’t get out in transition. They slowed us down,” he said.
Tayt Birnesser scored 13 points to lead Columbus Grove.
“Defensively, we did not start the game well. We went to a little bit of a match-up zone to try to take Birnesser and Reynolds away and force other kids to beat us and shoot over our length. I thought we did a really good job,” Stechschulte said.
Kalida also dominated the rebounding aspect of the game with a 33-18 edge there.
“That gives us an advantage in a lot of games. We attack the boards. We have a lot of good athletic kids who can go after it and clean it up,” Recker said.
Kalida came into the game as one of three teams unbeaten in the Putnam County League and left it as the only unbeaten after Miller City lost to Ottoville on Friday night.
The Wildcats and Bulldogs being unbeaten in the PCL added a little something extra to the game even though it is early in the league race.
“It gets the blood pumping,” Lambert said. Recker said, “To us it was a big PCL game. Every PCL game matters but this one was real important.”