COLUMBUS GROVE — For three quarters, Miller City’s game plan worked to perfection.
However, late in the game, Columbus Grove did exactly what Miller City feared it would do.
Columbus Grove junior Kenzie King managed just three points in the first three quarters.
Then it happened.
Starting in the fourth quarter, King got open often and went on to score 15 points the rest of the way to help lead Columbus Grove to a hard fought 53-45 double-overtime victory against Miller City in a key Putnam County League girls basketball matchup Saturday.
King led Columbus Grove (9-6, 4-1 PCL) with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. King also was 6 for 6 shooting at the free throw line. To go along with her sharp shooting, King dished out five assists and made three steals.
King had plenty of help Saturday.
Koryn Halker scored nine points on three 3-pointers. She also made two steals. Jaylen Sautter, Sage Clement and Erin Downing each scored eight points for Grove.
Downing, a 5-foot-11 senior forward, came away with six rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
Natalie Koenig led Miller City (8-5, 3-2 PCL) and all scorers with 21 points, including two 3-pointers. Abi Lammers was a workhorse inside the paint for the Wildcats, as she scored 12 points, and pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds.
“Erin (Downing) fouled out there late in the game,” Columbus Grove head coach Brian Schroeder said. “Kenzie (King) just took ownership of this team. She was a little more aggressive, offensively, and took some shots. She hit some deep threes that put us over the top.”
Schroeder admits he was concerned when Downing fouled out.
“Erin is our best defensive player,” Schroeder said. “She’s the focal point of our 2-3 (zone). She does so many things, as far as communication, deflections, blocking shots and rebounding. That, honestly, was my biggest worry — when she fouled out. I did not know how we would respond, defensively. … Would we be able to keep Lammers and Koenig out of the paint? … Would we be able to finish possessions?”
Early on, both teams struggled at the offensive end.
Miller City committed seven turnovers, while Columbus Grove turned it over six times in the first quarter.
The lead changed hands twice before Miller City slipped out with a 7-6 lead at the first stop.
Grace Pfau (five points) had a 3-pointer for the Wildcats. Clement had a 3-pointer to pace Columbus Grove.
It was a see-saw battle in the second quarter.
Columbus Grove eventually slipped out with a 17-16 lead by the halftime break.
Miller City limited Grove to 3 of 9 shooting in the third quarter as the Wildcats came away with a 27-25 lead by the third stop.
Koenig hit a 3-pointer to help lead the Wildcats. Clement and Sautter each connected behind the 3-point line for the Bulldogs in the third.
Grove made a run in the fourth quarter.
With 5:24 left to play in regulation, Downing made a steal and took it coast-to-coast for the basket, knotting the game at 29.
Then with 4:40 left to play, Halker hit her third trey of the game to give the Bulldogs a 32-29 lead.
“We had some players step up and make some plays,” Schroeder said. “I thought we did a pretty good job in our zone.”
Miller City battled back and eventually tied it up.
With 50 seconds left in regulation, Koenig nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to knot the score at 37.
Grove now had the basketball with 50 seconds left in regulation.
The Bulldogs patiently worked some time off the clock.
Then with time running out, King got the last look at the basket. The junior guard put up a 25-footer at the buzzer that bounced off the rim.
The game went to overtime.
In the first extra session, King hit twice behind the 3-point line for the Bulldogs.
However, Miller City had an answer each time as the game went to the second overtime period tied at 45.
In the second OT, King hit a 3-pointer with 1:15 left to play to give the Bulldogs a 48-45 lead.
That shot by King set the table for Grove.
Grove was able to stave off the Wildcats from the free throw line the rest of the way. The Bulldogs hit 5 of 6 from the charity stripe in the final minute of the second overtime. King was 4 for 4 at the free throw line down the stretch.
Grove outscored Miller City in the second overtime, 8-0.
“Our game plan was to keep it close and give ourselves a chance; and try to keep King off the screens, because when they screen for her, they are tough to defend,” Miller City head coach Ross Heuerman said. “We did a good job of chasing her around. She made some big-time shots.
“Our girls did everything we asked them to do, but they (the Bulldogs) made the shots.”
For the game, Columbus Grove shot 38 percent from the field. Miller City countered with 43% shooting from the floor.
Miller City committed 19 turnovers, while Columbus Grove turned it over 13 times.
Miller City held the edge on the boards, 31-25.
“That was a really hard-fought game — obviously being double overtime,” Schroeder said. “Miller City played really well. They hit some big shots.
“I’m just really proud of our team for showing some resilience. We had a lot of younger players that grew and matured quite a bit today. We’re just thankful we made enough shots and did enough to win.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.