Girls Basketball: Columbus Grove’s Auchmuty aims for scoring record

COLUMBUS GROVE — Lauryn Auchmuty’s basketball journey at Columbus Grove started as a water girl when she was in first grade.

Now she’s firmly in pursuit of the Bulldogs’ career scoring record of 1,500 points, set by Lauren Slusser back in 2002.

Entering Saturday, Auchmuty’s career total sits at 1,087 midway through her junior year. She crossed the 1,000-point plateau back on Jan. 11 at home against Leipsic, joining her cousin, Jade Clement, as the only other junior to hit the mark.

“Growing up I’d walk through the halls every day and look at the 1,000-point record board, one of them being Jade Clement, my cousin. I always wanted to be like her and score 1,000, so getting it my junior year just like she did is really nice.”

It was a goal that Auchmuty said she’d been chasing since she started to get serious about basketball in junior high.

She first picked up a ball around the time she was 2 years old, putting up some of her first shots on a plastic basketball hoop.

That gave way to the gym at the school when she was about 6, which quickly turned into sessions of 300 to 500 shots a day.

When I was younger I was in the gym shooting the ball constantly,” she said. “Junior high definitely helped push me to my limits and see how hard I could play and how determined I was to play. I feel like I grew up in the gym around other players that I looked up to, so seeing them play basketball kind of pushed me to get here.”

So who were those other players? Her cousins Jade and Gabe Clement, along with Blake Reynolds.

Gabe Clement and Reynolds were two main pieces on Columbus Grove’s 26-0 team that reached the D-IV regional finals in 2020 before having the remainder of the season halted due to COVID-19.

Reynolds is Columbus Grove’s career record holder in most major categories, including scoring (1,583 career points), assists (410), rebounds (888), blocks (118) and steals (170).

“They were all really good shooters at all three levels, so I feel like growing up with them and getting bullied down low when we played games, that’s what made me develop shooting,” Auchmuty said. “They always felt three feet taller than me when I was young.”

The group regularly ditched family gatherings to play basketball in the driveway if the weather was nice or headed to the school gym to get some shots up.

“Playing basketball with them really helped a lot because I knew what I could and couldn’t do on the court,” Auchmuty said. “I had to learn to create shots from anywhere on the floor because if you do shoot against them, they’re gonna stuff you and make fun of you because they’re really good.”

Many of those clean looks came from beyond the arc, which is where Auchmuty regularly hits shots from a few feet behind the line on her go-to move, the step-back three.

Auchmuty is the leader of a Columbus Grove team with a 13-4 record. The Bulldogs are among four teams atop the Northwest Conference with one league loss, and they’re one of three with one league loss in the Putnam County League.

She has the green light on those deep threes by Columbus Grove coach Brian Schroeder. So is everything fair game? Or is there a shot that could get her benched?

“Probably yeah,” Auchmuty said with a smile. “Probably the volleyball line, but if it went in he wouldn’t (bench me). If I missed it, he’d pull me for taking a bad shot and then put me right back in.”

During her freshman season, Auchmuty said she was hesitant to drive to the basket. Kenzie King played lead guard for the Bulldogs, allowing her to play off the ball, mainly allowing her to find open looks in the corner.

“When Kenzie graduated, I had to develop more of a ball-handling role and become a player who gets to the basket,” Auchmuty said. “That’s something I’m doing with more confidence now. I’ve gotten stronger and I’ve developed my mid-range game a lot more this year.”

Through 17 games this year, Auchmuty averaged 20 points per game. She hit 52 of her team’s 111 3-point field goals and is responsible for 39 percent of Columbus Grove’s total points (343 out of 872).

In each of Auchmuty’s first two seasons, the Bulldogs won the district title. To this point, those moments, along with crossing 1,000 points as a junior, have been the main highlights of her career to date.

Her main focus for the rest of the season is to top those achievements by making a deep tournament run and inching even closer to the school scoring record.

Those goals have her locked in now more than ever.

“The love and dedication I have toward basketball is a lot more than I think people would expect,” Auchmuty said. “I’m constantly thinking about basketball over my other sports. I put all of my time into this sport, so when I make a mistake, it’s really meaningful to me. I take everything to heart when it comes to this game.”

Reach Chris Howell at 567-242-0468 or on Twitter at @Lima_Howell