PAULDING — It was a tournament game, so it wasn’t just another game. But it was just another game where Kalida’s defense played a big role in a win, as it has all season.
Abby Wurth scored 18 points and Grace Klausing had 10 points for the Putnam County League champion Wildcats (17-5) when they defeated Delphos Jefferson 42-32 in a Division IV girls basketball sectional championship game at Paulding on Saturday night.
Defensively, Kalida forced 24 turnovers and held Jefferson to 27 percent shooting (6 of 22) over the last three quarters of the game.
With the win, Kalida moves on to play Wayne Trace in a district semifinal game Thursday night at Van Wert. Ottoville will take on Delphos St. John’s in the other district semifinal at Van Wert.
Wayne Trace was a 52-43 winner over Crestview in the other sectional championship game at Paulding on Saturday night. Miriam Sinn scored 16 points to lead Wayne Trace and Katrina Stoller had 15 points. Lexi Gregory’s 22 points led Crestview and Olivia Cunningham scored 10 points.
“We don’t run anybody out of the gym offensively, so we’ve got to get stops defensively,” Kalida coach Adam Huber said.
Jefferson (8-15) led 12-9 after the first quarter and it wasn’t until just over two minutes were left in the first half that Kalida took the lead for good. And the lead didn’t hit 10 points until 3½ minutes were left in the game.
“We talked about not giving them easy points and I thought in stretches in the first half we did give them some easy points. Once we sat down and just guarded, I thought we did a pretty good job. They had 12 points at the end of the first quarter and finished with 32,” Huber said.
Kalida started three players who started on a team that won 16 games last season. Jefferson had a junior, three sophomores and a freshman in its starting lineup Saturday night.
“These girls grew a lot but against a great team and a great coach you could tell our youth kicked in,” Jefferson coach Chrissy Billiter said.
“When we needed a basket it was turnover, turnover, turnover. The youth got us this year but hopefully there were learning moments and it makes us better in the future. They know what it takes, we just have to get there,” Billiter said.
Addy Stewart led Jefferson with 12 points.
Huber said, “I knew they’d be ready to play. They’re playing super hard. We beat them during the regular season. They already had a (tournament) game under their belt.
“It’s tournament, it’s different. You talk all the time that it’s just a game, that it’s the same as the first game of the year. But these kids aren’t oblivious to everything going on. They understand if you lose you’re done. Once we settled down we got into our game and were able to do what we wanted to do.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.