By Charlie Warnimont
Sentinel Sports Editor
CONTINENTAL - Columbus Grove scored the final five points of the second quarter to pull within three points of Continental at halftime of their Putnam County League game Tuesday night.That run by the Bulldogs didn't go unnoticed by Pirate coach Jaaci Carr. Carr brought that run to the attention of her players at halftime. The Pirates took note of their coaches halftime talk, then went out and played a solid third quarter.
Continental held the Bulldogs to one point in the third quarter that broke open a close game as the Pirates rolled to a 48-25 PCL win at the Don Huber Memorial Gymnasium. The Pirates are now 1-0 in the league and 2-1 overall, while the Bulldogs are 0-1 in the league and 1-3 overall.
The Lady Pirates took the lead for good at 7-6 on a putback by senior forward Leva Weller in the opening quarter. After the two teams traded points early, Continental scored the final nine points of the opening quarter as Weller, four points, and junior Paige Ordway, five points with a three-pointer, combined for all nine points.
With both offenses struggling in the second quarter, the Bulldogs scored four straight points on a Sydney McCluer free throw and a three point play by Hope Schroeder that had them within 14-10 with 5:14 to play in the half. Continental broke their dryspell a little later when Vanessa Koppenhofer drained a three-pointer from the right wing. After three missed free throws by the Pirates, they were 1 of 10 in the first half, Koppenhofer split a pair of free throws that had the Pirate lead at 18-10 with three minutes left in the half.
Columbus Grove scored the final five points of the half as Renee Karhoff hit a short jumper and Sammi Stechschulte drained a three-pointer in the final seconds of the second quarter that had the Bulldogs within 18-15 going into the locker room.
What the Pirates heard in the locker room set the tone for the third quarter.
"I got a little fired up in the locker room," Carr said. "I went in and said defense. Our subs have to come in and play because we had our best defender (Ordway) on the bench and when the subs come in they have to make up for her and we just didn't do that at the end of the second quarter. We had a lack of communication and we really needed to pick that up in the third quarter."
Extending their zone in the third quarter, the Pirate guards were able to get their hands several Columbus Grove passes. And when they were not coming up with turnovers, they were able to force the Bulldogs farther out on the court to where they couldn't get into their offense.
"We just kind of fell off the table," Grove coach Chad Ricker said. "Our young guards made some silly mistakes. Continental extended their zone and we made some poor choices with our passes that took us out of our offensive rhythm. Our shots were rushed as we didn't take time to get our feet set. And we were held to one shot. We, maybe, only had one or two offensive rebounds. We didn't have a whole lot going for us tonight."
Taylor Williamson got the Pirates rolling in the third quarter with a basket that was followed by a free throw from Koppenhofer before Koppenhofer came up with a steal that she turned into two points that forced Columbus Grove to take a timeout just over two minutes into the quarter.
After the timeout, it was nearly two minutes before anyone scored as Sloane Zachrich split two free throws and Williamson followed 30 seconds later hitting one of two free throws that made the score 25-15. A putback by Weller made it 27-15 and forced the Bulldogs to used another timeout.
With under two minutes left in the quarter back-to-back baskets by Sara Deken and Ordway extended the Pirate lead. Columbus Grove scored with 18.7 seconds left when McCluer hit the second of two free throws for the Bulldogs lone point of the quarter. A basket by Ordway ended the third quarter scoring giving Continental a 33-16 lead going to the fourth quarter.
Continental finished off the win with a 15-9 run in the fourth quarter as both teams emptied their benches in the quarter.
While the Pirate defense stepped up their game in the second half, free throws continued to be a problem as Continental went 9 of 28 at the line in the game. After a 1 of 10 effort in the first half, the Pirates were 3 of 8 at the line in the third quarter.
"The only concern I have is free throws," Carr said. "We struggled from the free throw line. You look at the positive, we did get there 28 times. Those fall with some practice and we will be all right."
Koppenhofer led the Pirates with 13 points, while Weller had 12 points and Williamson had 10 points. Weller finished with a double-double as she pulled down 10 rebounds against the taller Bulldogs, five of them offensive rebounds. Koppenhofer came up with five steals in the win.
McCluer led the Bulldogs with seven points and Stechschulte finished with five points.
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Columbus Grove 10-39 3-7 25: Halker 1-0-2; McCluer 2-2-7; Verhoff 0-0-0; Amstutz 0-0-0; A. Schramm 1-0-2; Schroeder 1-1-3; Stechschulte 2-0-5; Schumacher 1-0-2; Karhoff 2-0-4; Fruchey 0-0-0; D. Schramm 0-0-0.
Continental 17-42 9-28 48: Prowant 0-0-0; Fitzwater 0-0-0; Troyer 0-0-0; Scott 0-0-0; Williamson 4-1-10; Koppenhofer 4-2-13; Zacrich 0-1-1; Ordway 4-0-9; Quigley 0-1-1; Baker 0-0-0; Kindlien 0-0-0; Deken 1-0-2; Recker 0-0-0; Weller 4-4-12.
Columbus Grove 6 9 1 9 - 25
Continental 14 4 15 15 - 48
Junior Varsity: Continental 45-40.
Three-point goals: Columbus Grove 2-15 (Stechschulte 1, McCluer 1); Continental 5-10 (Ordway 1, Koppenhofer 3, Williamson 1).
Rebounds: Columbus Grove 17, Continental 33 (Weller 10, Zachrich 5).
Turnovers: Columbus Grove 20, Continental 12.