OTTAWA — Two points.
Columbus Grove, which prides itself on playing outstanding defense, held Delphos St. John’s to one basket in the fourth quarter to help propel the Bulldogs to a 51-39 victory in a Division IV district semifinal Thursday night.
With the win Columbus Grove improves to 20-3 and will play the winner of the Kalida/Arlington game that is scheduled to be played at 5 p.m. Friday at Ottawa-Glandorf. Delphos ends its season at 12-13.
Columbus Grove head coach Brian Schroeder said he started the second half with a zone defense and then switched it to a man-to-man that stymied the Blue Jay attack.
“I thought when we went back to man we were locked in,” Schroeder said. “I told the girls after the third quarter ‘I know you are tired and their tired as well so it just about mental toughness right now so be locked in defensively and keep your girl up front and keep stops and the offense will take care of itself.’ I thought our girls fought through fatigue in the fourth quarter and they were locked into their assignments.”
Delphos head coach Nick Stant said his team came up short in the fourth quarter.
“We just went cold,” Stant said. “We had them on the ropes and we had the lead and then finished it and we didn’t. Our shots didn’t fall in the fourth quarter and we didn’t rebound as well and they made some shots so they are a great basketball teams.”
Going into the final stanza Delphos St. John’s held a 37-36 lead and had continued to thwart the Columbus Grove offense from gaining any type of a rhythm.
But the Bulldogs scored the first six points of the fourth quarter when Savanah Ridenour and Kenzie King hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Columbus Grove defense took over from there. Blue Jay Paige Gaynier did score the lone Delphos bucket at the 6:42 mark but that was the only points the Bulldogs surrendered.
For the first three quarters, the two teams engaged in a back and fourth affair thanks to some tenacious defense and clutch shooting.
For Delphos, the 2-3 zone proved effective for the most part even though Angel Schneider found gaps in the zone to notch her buckets. However, once Schneider was out or the Blue Jays collapsed inside the Bulldogs were forced to shoot from the outside.
Columbus Grove had good looks but the ball wasn’t falling for the Bulldogs who struggled from the perimeter.
“I felt we were getting good looks from the girls we wanted to shoot but we were 3 of 15 (in the second half) so it was a little bit of a psychological game so I told the girls ‘you are getting great shots and you are too good of shooters for the ball not to go,” Schroeder said.
Delphos also had its troubles against the Bulldog defense but clutch shooting from Gaynier and Hannah Will kept the Blue Jays in the game. But those key shots Delphos made in the first three quarters, did not fall in the final eight minutes.
Will, who hit four 3-pointers, finished the game with 16 points. Gaynier ended her night with 11 points
Stant praised the effort team especially his three seniors, Aubrie Friemoth, Hannah Wills and Abby Hensley.
“Hannah had a heck of a tournament and shot it so well for three quarters and got some looks in the fourth and if they fall she is the hero of the game,” Stant said. “Aubrie last week set the school records for 3-pointers and with our Delphos tradition she gets to carry that the rest of her life and Abby didn’t seed the floor tonight but she has to be the best offseason practice player and working and a great leader and example for the youth of our program. That is what it was about tonight.
Columbus Grove’s Angel Schnieder, who was battling illness, led all scorers with 22 points and was instrumental with big baskets in the third quarter.
“She (Schnieder) did a nice job of relocating behind the zone and when the wings were getting extended because they were worried Kenzie (King) shooting three’s and that opened up behind them and Angel found the soft spots,” Schroeder said.
King scored 13 points but it was an off night for the sophomore standout. Even though she broke double digits she was 3 of 15 from behind the 3-point. However, her treys in the third and fourth quarter were big.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.