DELPHOS — Columbus Grove continued to ride its winning formula.
The Bulldogs use a disciplined, passing game and a smothering defense.
That’s helped Columbus Grove post a fifth straight Northwest Conference championship.
Grove got out early and rolled past Delphos Jefferson 53-28 to win the outright NWC girls basketball title Saturday afternoon at Delphos Jefferson High School.
Columbus Grove sophomore point guard Kenzie King led the way with 21 points and four 3-pointers.
Not only did King hit the threes, she also weaved her way through traffic for driving layups.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of ever since basketball was in the picture for me,” King said. “I’ve seen some of my role models do it, like Paige Bellman, so it’s a great feeling to be outright champs.’’
Abigail Gladwell had 11 points for Grove.
Savanah Ridenour had nine points.
Angel Schneider added six points and seven rebounds. Erin Downing had six points and five rebounds.
Columbus Grove stands 16-3 (7-0 NWC).
“This was obviously one of our goals, to win an NWC championship,” Grove coach Brian Schroeder said. “It feels good for the girls to see all the hard work, time and effort they’ve put into the season.’’
Delphos Jefferson is 8-12, 4-3 in the NWC.
The Bulldogs own a share of the Putnam County League title and can win the title outright with a win against Pandora-Gilboa next Saturday.
It marks the first time since 2017 that the Columbus Grove girls have won both the NWC and PCL titles.
“We’ve been a very fortunate program,” Schroeder said. … “It’s been a pretty good run for us.’’
Delphos Jefferson’s Josie McGue had eight points and seven rebounds.
Aly Lindeman had eight points and Addy Stewart scored six.
Offensively, Grove continually reversed the ball against the Jefferson 2-3 zone and looked inside for the basket in the paint.
If the inside shot wasn’t there, the Bulldogs would pass until there was an open 3-pointer.
Defensively, everything worked for Grove.
The Bulldogs used a man-to-man and plenty of man press. They also tossed in a 1-3-1 press.
The pressure forced Jefferson into 11 first-quarter turnovers and 15 for the half.
“We put a lot of pressure on girls and we really emphasize it,” King said. “Our defense really gets our offense going.’’
Jefferson ended up with 20 turnovers for the game.
Columbus Grove ran out to a 14-2 lead and led 19-7 after the first quarter.
The Bulldogs led 30-10 at the half.
By the half, Grove had 10 baskets. Five came on layups and five were via the 3-point shot.
“It’s a different girl every night and they’re not worried about accolades or stats,” Schroeder said. … “Their ball movement has been great and they are always happy for whoever’s night it is.’’
King had nine points at the half, on three 3-pointers.
Jefferson knocked the Grove lead down to 15, 32-17, with 5:24 left in the third.
King responded with a 3-pointer and scored on a driving basket, plus the foul shot.
“I thought when the other team was face-guarding her and being really physical with her, she was able to figure it out from a scoring standpoint and free herself up,” Schroeder said.
That helped the Bulldogs pull out to a 40-19 lead with 1:27 left in the third.
King scored eight in the third quarter, as Grove led 42-21 after three.
“They were really pressuring me out on the perimeter and I knew if I wanted to make a play, I would have to change my game plan a little bit,” King said of her dribble drives from the top of the key. “I ended up driving or distributing to my teammates.’’
Jefferson won the boards, 35-29.
Grove shot 47 percent from the field and was 6 of 17 on 3-pointers.
Of Grove’s 18 baskets, 11 came on layups.
Jefferson shot 27 percent from the field and was 2 of 11 on 3-pointers.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.