The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

Van Wert holds off Columbus Grove

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

COLUMBUS GROVE — It wasn’t easy or pretty, but a win is a win.

A big fourth quarter trey by Owen Treece and a pair of late foul shots by Nate Place helped Van Wert secure a 54-50 win at Columbus Grove on Saturday.

“It was a nice way to respond to a lot of adversity, to make free throws for the most part down the stretch,” Van Wert head coach Mark Bagley said. “It has been like a roller coaster in 2018 – I think all seven games have been very similar with the exception of Wayne Trace.”

Van Wert’s Owen Treece drives against Columbus Grove’s Grayson Flores. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

The Cougars enjoyed a 41-30 lead late in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs used an 11-2 run, including seven points by Blake Reynolds, to pull within two, 43-41, with 4:28 left in the game.

“We challenged them a little bit and said guys, this has happened before, we have to find a way to finish,” Bagley explained. “We had a stretch where we didn’t rebound at all. When we rebound and run we’re so much better because our half court execution isn’t there right now.”

Treece got Van Wert (3-4) back on track with a triple a short time later, then after a free throw by Columbus Grove’s Alex Schneider, LeTrey Williams connected on a pair from the line to push Van Wert’s lead to 48-42 with 2:33 left.

“That was really a huge momentum booster for us down the stretch,” Bagley said of Treece’s trey. “Then we finished off the game well I thought.”

Later, Place converted the front end of a one-and-one to give the Cougars a 51-46 advantage, but a bucket by Reynolds made it a three point game with 26.6 seconds left. After being fouled, Treece hit one of two free throws before Gabe Clements pulled the Bulldogs to within two, 52-50. However, Place sealed the victory with by hitting two foul shots with 7.3 seconds left. Place finished with 22 points, while LeTrey Williams scored 11.

Reynolds finished with a game high 23 points.

Van Wert was forced to battle early on as Columbus Grove (5-3) opened the game with a 6-1 run, but the Cougars tied the game 8-8 halfway through the quarter, then went on to lead 14-12 at the end of the period.

Scoring slowed in the second quarter, with Van Wert holding the hosts to just eight points, while scoring 11, including six by Place and five by Treece.

The Cougars opened the second half with a 14-8 scoring run, including a pair of treys by Drew Bagley.

Van Wert will return to Western Buckeye League play at St. Marys Memorial on Friday, then will host county rival Crestview on Saturday.

“St. Marys started 0-2 and now they’re 3-2,” Bagley said of the Roughriders. “They play a matchup zone that’s hard to play against and last year they took it right at us – they beat us up really good.”

“Our focus all week will be on our league game at St. Marys and trying to jump back in the league race,” the coach added. “Obviously the fans love that Crestview game and it’s been an exciting game the last several years. They’re a good basketball team that’s very experienced as well.”

Scoring summary

Columbus Grove 12   8 13 17 – 50
Van Wert             14 11 16 13 – 54

Columbus Grove: Blake Reynolds 23; Tayt Birnesser 8; Evan Hopkins 6; Alex Schneider 5; Grayson Flores 4; Gabe Clements 2; Ethan Halker 2

Van Wert: Owen Treece 9; Nate Place 22; LeTrey Williams 11; Drew Bagley 6; Blake Henry 4; Lawson Blackmore 2

JV: Columbus Grove 36-27

POSTED: 12/31/18 at 5:42 am. FILED UNDER: Sports