COLUMBUS GROVE – Ottoville jumped out quickly on Columbus Grove in Friday’s key Putnam County League boys basketball matchup.
Columbus Grove climbed back in by the halftime break, but Ottoville managed to stave off the Bulldogs in the second half, for a 55-44 victory at Columbus Grove.
With the win, Ottoville improves to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the PCL. Columbus Grove slips to 1-1 and 0-1 in league play.
Josh Thorbahn led Ottoville and all scorers with 22 points, including five 3-pointers. Thorbahn also had eight rebounds and three assists. Ryan Suever had 14 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Kyle Manns added eight points for the Big Green.
Blake Reynolds led Columbus Grove with 19 points and 12 boards. Tayt Birnesser scored 11 points with three 3-pointers for the Bulldogs.
“We got off to a great start. Our guys were engaged,” Ottoville head coach Keith Utendorf said. “We came out and hit some shots. That really gets us going. We’ve gotten off to a good start in the first two games of the year.
“I think that (fast start) carried us a little bit. Obviously, we knew they would charge back – like any good team would do. I’m proud of our guys, coming out of the locker room and taking their punch, and responding ourselves.”
Ottoville opened the game with a 6-0 run.
The Big Green pushed their lead out to 13-2, midway through the first stanza.
A 3-pointer by William Miller (five points, two steals) helped extend the Ottoville lead.
The Big Green did not let up.
Suever and Thorbahn heated up in the first quarter. Suever scored seven first-quarter points, while Thorbahn scored five to help lead Ottoville to a 19-9 lead by the end of the first quarter.
However, Columbus Grove came roaring back in the second stanza.
Midway through the second, the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 6, 23-17, on a 3-pointer by Reynolds.
Moments later, Reynolds scored down low to cut the Big Green lead to 4, 23-19.
Columbus Grove kept coming.
With less than a minute left to play in the first half, Trey Sautter (six points on two 3-pointers) nailed a 3-pointer to cut it to 3, 25-22.
Grove got within one point on an inside move by Tayt Birnesser. However, moments later, William Miller drove the lane and laid it high up on the glass to give Ottoville a 27-24 lead, heading into the halftime break.
The Bulldogs out-scored the Big Green 15-8 in that second stanza.
For the half, Columbus Grove was 10 of 23 shooting from the field. Ottoville was 12 of 27 from the floor.
Reynolds led Columbus Grove in the first half with 12 points. Suever led Ottoville with nine points.
Columbus Grove came out strong to open the second half.
The Bulldogs cut it to 3, 36-33, with two minutes left to play in the third quarter, on Tayt Birnesser’s second 3-pointer of the quarter.
However, Thorbahn kept the Big Green in control by scoring 10 third-quarter points.
Ottoville led 38-33 by the third stop.
In the fourth quarter, Columbus Grove struggled, hitting just 4 of 16 from the floor.
Ottoville was 9 of 12 shooting from the free throw line in the final eight minutes.
“We made a little bit of a defensive adjustment, going into a zone – which we haven’t done very much of,” Utendorf said. “Our guys were communicating pretty well. We were finding shooters. I’m really proud of our guys for engaging and really locking in, during the second half.”
For the game, Columbus Grove shot 36 percent from the field. Ottoville shot 45 percent from the floor.
“Anytime you see that ball go through the hoop, the defense seems to get a little bit better,” Utendorf said.
Columbus Grove committed 10 turnovers. Ottoville turned the ball over just five times on the night.
Columbus Grove held the slight edge on the boards, 29-26.
“You use up a lot of energy when you get down 17 points,” Columbus Grove head coach Chris Sautter said. “We couldn’t get over the hump. Give them (Ottoville) credit. They hit some shots there in the second half. I thought we got some decent looks. We have to hit shots. We have young kids who need to step up and hit shots, because Blake (Reynolds) is going to attract a lot of attention.”
Columbus Grove was without the services of senior Gabe Clement, who is out with an injury.
Added Utendorf, “Again, give credit to one through 12. We were engaged and locked in. It’s a great win, but we’re on to the next one.”