KALIDA — It wasn’t the pace Columbus Grove wanted to play.
However, the pace was perfect for Kalida.
Kalida slowed down the high-powered Columbus Grove team in Saturday’s Putnam County League boys basketball matchup.
However, Columbus Grove adjusted to Kalida’s style of play and came away with a hard-fought 36-23 victory at Richard L. Kortokrax Court.
With the win, Columbus Grove improves to 12-0 overall and 4-0 in the PCL. Kalida slips to 7-6 overall and 1-2 in PCL play.
Tayt Birnesser led Columbus Grove Saturday with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Birnesser was coming off a 36-point performance in Friday night’s 28-point win against Spencerville, which included 10 3-pointers.
Evan Hopkins also had 11 points for the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“We thought it would be a battle of two different styles,” Columbus Grove coach Chris Sautter said. “We were a little worried they (Kalida) might have an advantage (slower pace game). We felt that if we could speed it up, then we would have the advantage.
“I thought in the first half we did (play a faster pace), but we didn’t capitalize. We missed a lot of shots. I think if we could have made some of those shots, earlier in the game and got up a little bit, then that would have sped them up and then we could have got into more of how we want to play.”
Luke Erhart led Kalida with nine points and five boards.
As a team, Kalida was just 9 of 38 shooting from the field for 24 percent. In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats were held to 0 for 7 shooting from the floor.
“I thought we guarded really well,” Sautter said. “So, I was pleased with our defensive effort. We left some points on the board – at the foul line and some layups – shots that our guys normally hit. But when you come in here and get a road win at Kalida, that’s something to be proud of.”
Saturday, the lead changed hands four times in the first quarter, before Kalida came away with a 10-9 lead by the first stop.
Birnesser led Columbus Grove with seven points in the first eight minutes.
The Bulldogs finally started to put it together at the offensive end.
Columbus Grove opened the second quarter with an 11-0 run to pull out to a 20-10 advantage. A 3-pointer by Hopkins and a couple field goals by Blake Reynolds
(seven points, four rebounds and four blocks) and Birnesser, jump-started Columbus Grove.
Columbus Grove took a 23-14 lead into the halftime break.
Reynolds led the Bulldogs in the second stanza with seven points.
Columbus Grove was 6 of 9 shooting (67 percent) from the field in the second quarter. For the half, the Bulldogs were 10 of 24 (42 percent) from the floor.
Kalida struggled in the second stanza as it connected on just 2 of 12 (17 percent) from the floor. For the half, the Wildcats were 7 of 26 (27 percent) from the field.
Neither team could make a run in the third quarter. Columbus Grove led 29-21 by the third stop.
For the game, Columbus Grove shot 41 percent from the field.
Kalida committed nine turnovers on the night, while Columbus Grove turned the ball over 10 times.
The Bulldogs held the edge on the boards, 27-23.
“It’s a good test for our kids,” Sautter said about Saturday’s win. “We want to play as fast as we can. We want to get up into people and be aggressive. But you have to be in shape to play that way. The kids have bought in to working hard and getting in shape. I thought we were in better shape today, than we were last Saturday.”
Sautter said the slow-down style of game was something his squad needed to experience.
“It was a good game, a tournament-type atmosphere. You have to be able to win games like this, if you want to get to where you want to get. So, we needed something like this. … It was good for us,” he said.