OTTAWA — Tournament basketball can be a little nerve racking for those who haven’t experienced it before.

Columbus Grove had just two players in the lineup Wednesday night that had played in a tournament game before and it showed early. Once the Bulldogs were able to shake those early nerves, they looked like a veteran team. And it was Cory-Rawson that watched the Bulldogs grow up quickly as they fell to Grove 60-23 in a Division IV sectional semi-final at Ottawa-Glandorf.

The Bulldogs (13-9) advance to the sectional finals Friday night to face Leipsic (12-11) around 8 p.m. at O-G. Leipsic advanced to the sectional title game with a 62-43 win over McComb in the first game Wednesday night.

Columbus Grove scored the first points of the game before the Hornets took a 5-2 lead on a putback by Danny Miles and a three-pointer from Chad Shepler. After making some early substitutions, the Bulldogs started to find their rhythm offensively thanks in part to their halfcourt and fullcourt defensive pressure. Finding their stride the Bulldogs went on a 25-2 run over the next eight minutes to take control of the game.

Jace Darbyshire ignited the run with a layup and three-pointer that put the Bulldogs ahead for good. A Tanner Neu basket, a three pont play by Will Vorhees and a Baily Clement basket had Grove up 14-5 after eight minutes.

Cory-Rawson halted the Bulldog run on a basket by Ian Moser to start the second quarter before Grove went on an 11-o run for a 25-7 lead. Joey Warnecke opened this run with a three-pointer from the right corner, that was followed by a putback by Riley Brubaker. After a basket by Elisha Jones, putbacks by Vorhees and Brubaker had the Bulldogs up 25-7. Two of the baskets by the Bulldogs in this run came as a result of turnovers from their fullcourt pressure.

“They (Hornets) have good halfcourt stuff when you let them run it and our plan was to disrupt it and make them more basketball players than running plays and I thought we did a good job of that after the first three minutes,” Grove coach Ryan Stechschulte said. “We got our feet settled in and did a good job on the defensive end. Our defense turned into a lot of easy offense for us.

“We only had two kids with varsity experience coming back, so this game was good for us. We had some nervous kids and they had to get their feet wet. You could see that the first four minutes. Other than Jace and Will, we had some guys on the floor that were unsettled and little bit wound up and they battled through that stretch and played a good game after that,” Stechschulte added.

Matthew Alspach ended the Bulldogs second run with a three-pointer before Grove closed out the first half with a 7-0 run for a 32-10 halftime lead. Colton Grothaus had a three-pointer in that run, while David Bogart and Jones both had a basket.

“Those runs are hard to overcome, especially as deep as they are, as athletic as they are and skilled as they are,” Cory-Rawson coach Aaron Long said. “We talked about taking their best and continuing to keep the course and try to take the best they could give us the first quarter and hang around. When they made that first run on us that was a big key.”

Up 22 points at halftime, the Bulldogs didn’t suffer any letdown in the third quarter outscoring the Hornets 20-6. The Bulldogs had a 10-0 run in the third quarter to lengthen their lead.

There were some anxious moments in the third quarter for the Bulldogs when Vorhees was fouled attempting a dunk and landed on the floor hard. He laid on the floor for a few minutes trying to catch his breath, then walked off under his own power. Vorhees never returned to the game, but coach Stechschulte said his 6-7 senior would be fine as he landed on his butt which absorbed most of the blow.

Darbyshire led 12 Bulldogs in the scoring column with 10 points while Vorhees had eight points and seven rebounds. Brubaker pulled down six rebounds as Grove had a 38-25 edge in rebounds.

Moser led the Hornets (7-15) with seven points, while Grant Risner had six points and eight rebounds.

* * *

Cory-Rawson 10-44 0-2 60: Ian Moser 3-0-7; Matthew Alspach 2-0-5; Mason Waltz 0-0-0; Spencer Silvers 0-0-0; Austin Schaller 0-0-0; Kyle Rossman 0-0-0; Bryce Tuttle 0-0-0; Grant Risner 3-0-6; Chad Shepler 1-0-3; Heath Risner 0-0-0; Danny Miles 1-0-2; ryan Forney 0-0-0; Jacob Wineland 0-0-0.

Columbus Grove 22-52 7-14 60: Colton Grothaus 2-0-5; Jace Darbyshire 4-0-10; Gabe Stechschulte 0-0-0; Riley Brubaker 2-0-4; Baily Clement 3-0-6; David Bogart 1-0-2; Joey Warnecke 2-0-5; Corey Schroeder 1-1-3; Elisha Jones 2-1-5; Logan Diller 1-1-3; Bryce Sharrits 0-0-0; Noah Kohls 1-1-3; Tanner Neu 2-1-6; Will Vorhees 3-2-8.

Cory-Rawson 5 5 6 7 - 23

Columbus Grove 14 18 20 8 - 60

Three-point goals: Cory-Rawson 3-14 (Moser, Alspach, Shepler); Columbus Grove 4-14 (Darbyshire 2, Grothaus 1, Warnecke 1).

Rebounds: Cory-Rawson 25 (G. Risner 7); Columbus Grove 38 (Vorhees 7,Brubaker 6).

Turnovers: Cory-Rawson 18, Columbus Grove 11.