COLUMBUS GROVE — Columbus Grove had trouble from the free throw line and from behind the 3-point arc Thursday night against Spencerville so the Bulldogs relied on their defense to post a 46-38 victory against the Bearcats in a clash of Northwest Conference teams.
With the win, Columbus Grove improves to 12-3 and 5-0 in the NWC. Spencerville slips to 2-2 in the conference and 8-6 overall.
“I thought our girls did a nice job of taking away Spencerville’s strengths, personnel wise, “ Columbus Grove head coach Brian Schroeder said. “Spencerville still made some plays and made some shots.”
It was down the stretch that the Bulldogs’ defense came up big. With Columbus Grove up 36-34 with 4:32 left in the game, the Bulldogs clamped down to allow a quick 6-0 run that was enough to hold off the determined Bearcats. In the final four and a half minutes, Columbus Grove outscored Spencerville 10-4.
“Both teams played really good defense,” Spencerville head coach Greg Ekis said. “We have seen them a bunch and they have seen us a bunch. It kind of came down to who executed better and they made more shots especially down the stretch than we did. Give them credit they did a great job.”
In the game within the game, it was Abby Gladwell’s defensive effort against perennial all-conference performer Emma Leist spearheaded the Bulldogs’ defensive efforts.
The senior Bulldog covered Leis throughout the game and did not allow her to score any points in the first half. Leis did end up with 11 but it was below her average of 13 points a contest.
“She (Gladwell) has done that all year in terms of whomever the top perimeter threat is we put her on them,” Schroeder said. “Emma Leis is an incredible player in terms of handling the ball…and I thought Abby took a lot of ownership in that assignment in stopping her and had a nice game.”
Gladwell also contributed on the offensive end with 10 points including six in the final eight minutes.
“They do a great job of playing great help defense,” Ekis said. “They know who they want to take away and they did a great job of that. Credit to our girls, they battled and they played hard. I told them in the locker room we can’t fault their effort at all.”
Columbus Grove’s Angel Schneider was the main offensive force for the Bulldogs in the first half and it was Kenzie King who came up big in the second half. Schneider, who had 11 first half points, finished with 13 overall and King, who hit two big 3-pointers in the third quarter on a night that the Bulldogs struggled from treyland, led all scorers with 14 points. She also had five points in the final stanza.
Even though Schroeder was happy with the win, he knew it could have gone the other considering the Bulldogs were 12 of 24 from the charity stripe and 2 of 8 from the 3-point arc.
“Offensively it wasn’t our cleanest game by any stretch of the imagination,” Schroeder said. “I think we still left way too many points out there whether points around the rim or shooting from the free throw line. I told them it didn’t come back to bite us today but it will if we don’t shore up our inside shots and our free throws so that is something we need to work on.”
At halftime, Spencerville led 18-17 but in the third quarter, Columbus Grove went with what Schroeder described as “proper pace.”
“We play with seven and we play five quite a bit so we have to be a little picky because if we just make it an uptempo game all game that doesn’t work to our advantage,” Schroeder added. “But I told them at halftime that if we can get out and get some cheap ones in transition look to that.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.