FINDLAY – Arlington defeated Columbus Grove 47-44 earlier this year.
Bulldog Gabe Clement was determined to not let that happened again and backed that up with a 17 points and seven rebounds performance against the Red Devils in the Division IV District final to help Columbus Grove hold off Arlington and post the 52-45 victory Friday night.
“We lost to Arlington earlier in the year and I was going to make sure that it didn’t happen again,” Clement said. “We knew they were going to try to slow the game down and we just knew we had to speed it up and play our game.”
With the win, the Bulldogs (19-5) advanced to the regional semifinals against Maumee Valley Country Day at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. Country Day defeated Toledo Christian 61-53.
Columbus Grove head coach Chris Sautter credited his team’s ability to remained poised throughout the game especially down the stretch to garner the big win.
Solid defense, a staple of the Bulldogs’ team, focused on stopping the Red Devil guards from producing assists and buckets as well as clamping down on Arlington’s interior play from Ivan Berry. Berry who finished with 12 points, was held to two points in the second quarter as well as the critical fourth quarter.
“We weren’t very good the first half defensively,” Sautter said. “We knew we wanted to force (Jacob) Russell to his right hand and force (Ryan) Metzger to his left hand but you can’t overplay so much you that you are giving up a straight line to the basket. They had 20 points and they were all within a foot of the bucket so we knew we had to adjust in the second half.”
Columbus Groves’ Blake Reynolds, did a yeoman’s job on trying to contain Berry as well as contributing on the offensive end by scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. He also had three blocked shots. Berry finished with 12 points.
“You have Blake in there protecting the rim, blocking shots and rebounding the basketball,” Sautter said. “You can’t say enough about what he does in there. He might not score the most points but at the end of the day he has probably had the biggest impact on both ends of the floor and on us winning and losing the basketball game.”
Arlington’s Jaret Vermillion, who tried to spark a comeback, finished with 14 points including 12 in the fourth quarter where he nailed a trio of treys.
Bulldog Tayt Birsenner finished with 13 points.
In addition to the Bulldogs’ defense, rebounding play a crucial role in Columbus Groves’ victory. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Red Devils 30-18.
“I think in the first half we had like 10 offensive rebounds and it was the reason we had the lead in the first half,” Sautter said. “
A prime example of a player contributing without scoring points was Alex Schneider who came off the bench to score two points but grabbed an important eight rebounds.
“He is an energy kid,” Sautter said. “He plays his tail off and that is what we get from him. There is going to be some things he does where you scratch your head and say ‘Good Lord what was that,” but the next two or three plays are going to be great so you take the good and the bad.”