COLUMBUS GROVE — Kenzie King swished her first shot seconds into the game and Columbus Grove was on its way.
King hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and Columbus Grove ran away with a 52-30 Putnam County League girls basketball victory Saturday afternoon against Leipsic.
The sophomore guard King finished with 17 points and five 3-pointers and she had all of that in the first half.
“When I hit my first three I felt I was going to be on for the day, so I focused on shooing,” King said. “I wanted the ball to keep going in.’’
Columbus Grove stands 11-2, 4-0 in the PCL.
Leipsic is 7-6, 2-2 in the PCL.
Both teams wore “Hoops for Hope” T-shirts to promote cancer awareness. Cancer survivors were given a rose by the players.
Angel Schneider added 14 points and seven rebounds for Grove. Erin Downing had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Leipsic freshman guard Whitney Langhals led her team with nine points.
Vikings 6-footer Elizabeth Scheckelhoff had eight points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Grove alternated between its man press and 2-1-2 zone press in the first half.
“We focus a lot on defense in practice,” King said. “We work a lot on our pressure and he (coach Brian Schroeder) emphasizes pressuring other teams and forcing them to turn the ball over. I think it was our pressure, our traps and our rotations that caused problems.’’
The result on a Leipsic team that plays four freshmen in its rotation was the Vikings had 13 first-half turnovers and 23 for the game.
“Leipsic has a younger squad, and we thought with their inexperience we could extend our pressure and generate some offense early on,” Grove coach Schroeder said.
With Leipsic unable to set up its offense, the Bulldogs were scooping up turnovers and heading to the other end of the court.
“It was their ball pressure,” Leipsic coach Gary Kreinbrink said. “And we lost track of King in the first half too much. In the second half, we made an adjustment and gave some help.’’
King nailed three 3-pointers in the opening quarter to give Grove a 17-6 lead after one.
King’s early threes also pulled Leipsic out of its 3-2 zone.
“Hitting shots can be contagious,” Schroeder said. “Kenzie’s start was huge for her and her teammates.’’
It was more of the same in the second quarter.
King hit two more 3-pointers in the second quarter and Schneider scored nine points in the second from down low.
The Bulldogs led 34-16 at the half, with King having 17 points and Schneider 14.
In the second half Leipsic did a better job of containing King and not giving her any open looks around the 3-point line.
Both Ashley Berger and Ally Kirkendall kept close to King.
Then, once in the halfcourt, Leipsic began finding Scheckelhoff on the blocks.
Scheckeloff scored six of her eight points in the second half.
But, overall, Grove’s 5-7 Schneider did a good job not letting Scheckelhoff find her favorite spots down on the blocks.
“Angel’s a 5-7 girl who plays like she’s 6-foot,” Schroeder said. “She was being really physical with her down low. She’s really been playing well the last several games for us.’’
Grove led 47-24 after three and wasn’t challenged in the final quarter.
Grove won the boards 32-18, including 15-4 on the offensive end.
The Bulldogs shot 42 percent from the field and were 7 of 18 on 3-pointers.
The Vikings shot 39 percent from the field and were 3 of 9 on 3-pointers.
“We’re all improving as the year goes on,” Kreinbrink said of his young team.
Columbus Grove is also 4-0 in the Northwest Conference.
“Obviously, we’re blessed to be in this position, but we have some really tough league games ahead of us,” Schroeder said. “We still have Spencerville and Bluffton in the NWC. In the PCL, we have Miller City coming up.’’
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.