ELIDA — When No. 1 seed Columbus Grove struggled at the offensive end in Tuesday’s Division IV district semifinal boys basketball matchup with Northwest Conference-foe Lincolnview, the Bulldogs turned to their playmaker.
Blake Reynolds, a 6-foot-4 senior, made the plays and got to the free throw line often down the stretch to help propel Columbus Grove to a hard-fought 44-38 victory over Lincolnview at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Reynolds led Columbus Grove (21-2) with 19 points, including 7 of 10 shooting at the free throw line. Reynolds also came away with six rebounds and four assists.
Columbus Grove will face Ottoville (21-2) in a district final Friday at the Elida Fieldhouse with tip-off set for 7 p.m.
In Tuesday’s second district semifinal at the Elida Fieldhouse, Ottoville got past Crestview, 58-49.
“We just put the ball in the hands of Blake (Reynolds) and let him make plays,” Columbus Grove head coach Chris Sautter said. “Blake stepped up and made 4 for 4 (at the free throw line) down the stretch. You have to guard and you have to make free throws to win close games. We were able to do that.”
Also for Columbus Grove, Tayt Birnesser had 11 points and four boards. Gabe Clement added eight points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Jake Bowersock led Lincolnview (18-6) with 12 points and seven rebounds. Collin Overholt had 10 points, four boards and three assists for the Lancers.
Neither team shot exceptionally well.
For the game, Columbus Grove shot 37 percent from the floor. Lincolnview shot 43 percent on its field goal attempts.
“Both teams put on a really nice shooting clinic tonight,” Sautter said jokingly. “I think between the two of us, we were 3 for 32 from the 3-point line. I hope we don’t shoot that poorly on Friday night.”
Lincolnview opened the game with a 5-0 spurt.
A 3-pointer by Aaron Cavinder (three points, four boards) jump-started the Lancers.
Columbus Grove battled back.
By the end of the first quarter, Columbus Grove had claimed a 10-7 lead.
Neither team shot well in the first eight minutes. Grove was 4 of 12 from the field, while Lincolnview was 3 of 10.
Grove picked up the tempo in the second quarter.
But the Lancers would not go away.
With 1:56 left in the first half, Bowersock scored down low to give the Lancers a 17-16 lead.
Grove slipped out with an 18-17 lead by the halftime break.
In the first half, Grove was 8 of 21 from the field for 38 percent. Lincolnview was 8 of 20 for 40-percent shooting.
Reynolds and Tayt Birnesser each had six points for the Bulldogs.
In the third quarter, the game resorted back to its original slower pace.
Columbus Grove led 27-23 by the third stop.
The Lancers kept it close.
Then, with 4:38 left to play, Bowersock hit two free throws to give the Lancers a 32-31 lead.
However, down the stretch, Grove converted from the charity stripe to slip out with the win.
In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs were 9 of 11 from the free throw line.
“We were right there,” Lincolnview head coach Brett Hammons said. “They shot more free throws than us, going down the stretch. They made more plays than us. We both didn’t shoot it very well. … We had our chances.”
On the night, Columbus Grove committed five turnovers, while Lincolnview turned the ball over nine times.
The Bulldogs held the edge on the boards, 29-23.
“I thought both teams guarded really well,” Sautter said. “They’re at 17 (points) at halftime. You can’t complain, defensively. They got one three (in the first quarter), and that’s a big part of their game. Overholt got by us a couple of times around the paint. … He’s quick. Then Bowersock in the second half, did a nice job inside.”
Hammons was proud of his team’s effort.
“(In the regular-season game against Grove) we got blown out by 21. I thought our kids battled, tonight. Nobody thought we were going to win this game. A lot of people didn’t think it was going to be close. We came in here and gave it our best effort. This could have gone more our way, and we could be playing on Friday night. But credit Grove - they’re a great team,” said Hammons.
Ottoville 58, Crestview 49
Ottoville, the No. 2 seed, staved off Crestview in the fourth quarter for a thrilling nine-point victory in the second Division IV district semifinal at the Elida Fieldhouse.
The Big Green had four players score in double figures.
Ryan Suever, a 6-foot-7 senior wing player, led Ottoville (21-2) with 14 points and six rebounds. Will Miller scored 11 points and had four rebounds from a guard spot. Kyle Manns and Josh Thorbahn each added 10 points for the Big Green. Thorbahn, a University of Findlay commit, also had six boards and dished out seven assists for Ottoville.
Kalen Etzler, the 6-foot-8 Ohio State commit, led Crestview (18-6) and all scorers with 21 points, including two 3-pointers. The senior playmaker also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Teammate Carson Kreischer added eight points and seven rebounds for the Knights.
“He’s a special player,” Ottoville head coach Keith Utendorf said about Kalen Etzler. “We just wanted to make him take tough shots. I thought we did a pretty good job of corralling him.”
Ottoville slipped out with a 14-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Big Green led 23-21 by the halftime break.
Etzler led the Knights with 11 first-half points and six boards.
Ottoville pulled out to a 39-33 advantage by the third stop.
Ottoville started to pull away in the final eight minutes. The Big Green’s largest lead in the fourth stanza was 15.
For the game, Ottoville shot 47 percent from the field. Crestview made 44 percent of its field goal attempts.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.