VAN WERT – Survive.
That is all that teams want to do in the postseason and Columbus Grove did just that against Miller City by holding off its Putnam County rivals 39-32 in the Division IV district semifinal Tuesday night.
With the win, Columbus Grove improves to 17-7 and advances to the district finals against Kalida at Van Wert at 7 p.m. Saturday.
This marks the second time this season, Columbus Grove outlasted Miller City. During the regular season, the Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 53-45 in double overtime.
“We knew it would be a tough game and it was kind of back and fourth and we were able to hit some shots at the end and I would say we iced it with our free throws but I don’t think that would be very accurate,” Columbus Grove Brian Schroeder said. “It was hard fought game and a quality tournament game.”
Schroeder said down the stretch it came down to Columbus Grove’s solid defensive effort and the Bulldogs ball movement on offense.
“We went to our ball screen action which we do against man-to-man and we attacked it with our ball screen and I thought we got some good looks after that,” Schroeder said. “And once we got up we continued to work hard on the defense.”
Miller City head coach Ross Heuerman said his team couldn’t get the defensive stops down the stretch nor the clutch bucket.
“We just couldn’t get the ball to go down and Columbus Grove is a good enough team that will capitalize on things like that. They started setting that ball screen and it took us a couple of possessions to adjust to that and we had girls sagging in a little too far and girls helping on somebody else and then they would kick it out to the shooter and when we attacked the shooter they’d attack the rim.”
Heuerman added that Columbus Grove’s defensive pressure on their wings was a major factor in the Bulldogs preventing points.
Going into the final five minutes of the game, the score was knotted at 30-30 when Bulldog Kenzie King made a big steal and while she did not convert the bucket Grove scored on the possession and took the two-point lead.
A second Miller City turnover led to another hoop from Columbus Grove who now owned a 34-30 lead with 3:21 left in the game. The Wildcats responded with a bucket from Natalie Koenig to cut the lead down to two but unfortunately for Miller City that was its final basket of the night as Columbus Grove went into a spread and Miller City was forced to foul.
Miller City got several opportunities to cut into the lead after some missed one-and-one opportunities but the Wildcats never got the key basket they needed down the stretch.
Columbus Grove’s Kenzie King, who had seven fourth quarter points, led the Bulldogs with 13 points. She was 5 of 7 from the charity stripe in the final eight minutes.
Schroeder praised the effort of King for her ball handling abilities down the stretch but added that other members of the team stepped up in key situations.
“Kenzie obviously draws a lot of attention with the type of player that she is and having the ball in her hands and that is something we emphasized or tried to prepare the rest of the team for and that was to have your hands and feet ready because you are going to get the ball with the amount of attention Kenzie draws,” Schroeder said. “We didn’t shoot great but I thought Shay Schroeder came in a hit a big three for us and Kenzie just makes every thing so much easier.”
Adding offensive support was Erin Downing and Jaylen Sautter each scored 10 points and Sautter grabbed nine rebounds.
For Miller City, Abi Lammers finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Kalida 50, Cory-Rawson 17
VAN WERT — The Kalida girls showed they can also play defense.
After the Kalida boys held Continental to 15 points Tuesday night, the Wildcat girls produced a 50-17 win over Cory-Rawson in the nightcap of the District semifinal game Thursday night.
Kalida improves to 17-6. Cory-Rawson ends its year with a 17-7.
Kalida jumped out to an 11-1 lead after the first quarter and owned a 24-5 by halftime.
Cory-Rawson’s only field goal came at the 4:42 of the second quarter.
“We have hung our hat on defense for a long time now,” Kalida head coach Adam Huber said. “I thought we were a little ragged offensively just playing too fast in this as you get further along and get a little more excited fortunately we have a lot of girls who have been there before and they settled us down and we knew if we were getting stops we were okay.”
One of the primary focuses on defense was to stop Cory-Rawson’s leading scorer Zoe Chisholm and they were successful as they limited the senior standout to 6 points on the night. Chishsolm did not score her first bucket until the second half.
“We wanted to limit her touches and I thought we did a great job of that in the first half,” Huber said. “We tried some of our press early but we got into foul trouble early….We just went to man and just locked in and do what we do what we do every day in practice.”
For Kalida, Grace Klausing led the way with 14 points and Brooke Vennekotter added 11 points.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.