OTTAWA — Down 19 points going into the final quarter to Arlington, Bluffton knew if it did not make a move the Pirates’ season would be over.
The Pirates made a late surge to cut the lead to one possession 49-47 with 1:20 left in the game, but the Bluffton comeback fell short as the Red Devils ousted Bluffton, 55-47, in the Division IV district semifinals Thursday night.
With the win Arlington (21-4) advances to face Columbus Grove in the district final at Ottawa-Glandorf High School at 7 p.m. Saturday. Bluffton ends its season with a 19-6 record.
“For the first three quarters we got some good looks but didn’t make our shots,” Bluffton head coach Eric Garmatter said. “Our defense kept us in the game for the most part and at the end of the third quarter all I asked the girls was not to quit.”
Arlington head coach Seth Newlove said coming into the game the Red Devils wanted to focus on Averey Rumor, Katie Prater and Alivia Koeng, recently named the Northwest Conference player of the year.
“We just wanted to guard them all and they just got hot in the fourth quarter and we kind of lost some assignments,” Newlove said. “I told the girls the best coach in the world will be the one who figures out momentum. “
Koenig, who finished with 12 points, score no points in the second and third quarter. Rumer led the team with 17 points, including 11 in the fourth that helped spark the failed comeback.
Rebounding also played a major role in Arlington’s win. The Red Devils outrebounded Bluffton 37-20.
“I have heard coach (Dave) Kleman of Ottoville say many times that rebounds win tournament games and we harped on that big time,” Newlove said.
Offensively, Arlington’s Hannah Willow finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Teammate Kylie Sheets chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds.
Defense dictated the early action as both teams struggled to find its offensive and the Pirates owned a 10-9 lead after the first quarter.
Arlington was the team that was the first to find its offensive touch midway through the second quarter.With the two teams knotted at 15-15 with 3:53 left in the first half, Arlington reeled off the next eight points to open up its biggest lead of the game, 23-15 with 1:33 left in the second quarter. A big 3-pointer by Brinkley Garmatter ended the Red Devil run, however a late bucket by Lindsay Dodd, jumped the lead back to seven, 25-18 going into halftime.
Arlington took control of the game in the third quarter by scoring the first nine points of the second half to open up a 34-18 advantage at the 2:54 mark. Bluffton finally scored its first points of the third quarter at the 2:38 mark but Arlington would outscore the Pirates 8-2 to grab a 19-point cushion going into the final eight minutes.
“That third quarter was awesome for us,” Newlove said. “I just thought effort-wise our offense was outstanding. Our defense was outstanding and we got some great offensive rebounds in that third quarter.”
For Garmatter it is an end to a season that saw Bluffton share the Northwest Conference title.
“They gave everything they had,” Garmatter said. “They are a fun group. They work hard in practice every day and they worked hard for all their accomplishments and it is amazing sometimes what they have done. They are not the biggest group of girls but they found ways.”
Columbus Grove 57,
Miller City 38
OTTAWA — A late third quarter spurt helped Columbus Grove defeat Miller City.
Columbus Grove’s Angel Schneider scored 12 points to pace the Bulldogs and Rylee Sybert chipped in 11 points. Amy Vorst added 10 points.
For Miller City, Natalie Koenig scored 16 points.
After a tight first half, Columbus Grove led 30-23 going into the second quarter.
Both teams struggled to score points in the first four minutes of the third quarter and with 2:51 left, the Bulldogs held a 33-32 lead.
But the Bulldogs would end the third quarter with a 12-0 run and when Kenzie King swished a 3-pointer to end the stanza, Columbus Grove owned a 13-point cushion, 45-32.
Miller City ends its season with a 12-13 record.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.