VAN WERT — Last year, Kalida sent Columbus Grove packing in the Division IV district final in an overtime thriller. This year the Bulldogs made sure there was no exciting finish for the Wildcats as they downed their Putnam County rivals 48-34 to secure the district crown Saturday.
Columbus Grove (18-7) will play the winner of Seneca East/Buckeye Central at Elida at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Kalida ends its year with a 17-7 mark.
“It’s been a while,” Columbus head coach Brian Schroeder said. “We have been fortunate enough to get into the district finals but just came out on the wrong end and that’s the way it has gone for it so I am just enjoying it right now and I am really happy for these girls and how the season started.”
Defense and excellent shooting from the outside carried the Bulldogs to the win. Columbus Grove connected on seven treys to offset Kalida’s defensive effort.
Defensively, Columbus Grove held Kalida to single digits in each of the first three quarters. In the regular season meeting between the two teams, Columbus Grove won 33-30.
Kalida’s Grace Klausing scored a hard earned 20 points.
“We were able to get stops when we had to,” Schroeder said. “We did a good job on Grace Klausing. She is just such a tremendous player. But the defense was a team effort. When you are in a zone its not like one player is guarding another player and it is a team effort to be locked in and follow the scouting report and what we want to do.”
Columbus Grove’s Kenzie King and Erin Downing each finished with 18 points. Downing popped two 3-pointers and scored 10 points in the pivotal second and third periods. King, cool as a cucumber, in the fourth quarter hit 11 of 14 from the charity stripe to ice the game.
Bulldog Koryn Halker had two treys and Sage Clement, and Shay Schroeder also hit big 3-pointers.
“We came out and shot well tonight,” Schroeder said. “In tournament time that sometimes is what it comes down to and we were able to hit shots on the night when you need to hit shots and we had a lot of our role players hit some big three’s early and our two leading scorers, Kenzie and Erin came up big tonight.
Many expected a defensive dual between these two Putnam County rival as points were hard to come by as both teams played high pressure defense from the opening tip.
After the first eight minutes, Columbus Grove held the 8-6 lead.
Columbus Grove began to find its stroke from the outside in the second quarter and hit four 3-pointers to grab a 22-11 going into the halftime. In the final three minutes of the half, the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run to break out to the 11-point advantage.
Both coaches agreed that late surge at the end by Columbus Grove was instrumental in paving the way to the victory.
“When you are not making shots and that is a credit to their defense we are forced to try and hit shots and when you don’t make them its tough,” Kalida head coach Adam Huber said. “I told them at halftime that every possession is so big now because every time they score it is one basket we have to make and we aren’t making many.
Huber added that the loss is disappointing but wanted to point out how special his senior class was this year the effort they put in to make it to this point.
“I just got done wiping my eyes out on how special those four seniors (Kathryn Siebeneck, Grace Klausing, Mya Schmitz and Brenna Smith), have been to this program. I don’t want this loss to take away anything they accomplished this season.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.