VAN BUREN — Columbus Grove had to wait an extra 45 minutes to take the floor for their Division IV sectional final game with Cory-Rawson Friday night.

The wait didn’t seem to bother the second seeded Bulldogs any.

Columbus Grove raced out to an early lead and never looked back in defeating the Hornets 77-35 at Van Buren High School. The win sends the Bulldogs to the Findlay Division IV district semi-finals Tuesday night where they will play McComb at 8 p.m. The Panthers advanced with a 48-46 triple overtime win over third seeded Pandora-Gilboa in the first game.


The Bulldogs were active on both ends of the court early Friday night as they held the Hornets to one made field goal in the first quarter and gave up just one rebound while forcing a number of turnovers. Columbus Grove had an early 4-1 lead after the Hornets’ Matthew Roth hit a free throw. The Bulldogs then put together a 9-0 run for a 13-1 lead before Roth hit the Hornets only basket of the quarter.

Columbus Grove finished the quarter with an 8-0 run as Evan Hopkins and Tayt Birnesser both had a three-pointer.

“We knew we wanted to play fast because we knew if they could make it a possession game and slow it down, we knew they could hang around, they have some nice players” Columbus Grove coach Chris Sautter said. “We wanted to speed them up, try to force some turnovers and get out and run. I felt like we had a deeper team and if we could tire them out in the first half, we could maybe have our way in the second half.”

With an 18 point lead after one quarter, the Bulldogs continued to pull away in the second quarter going in a 13-2 run for a 36-5 lead. Birnesser, a sophomore, had the hot hand early in the second quarter scoring eight points as he had and Gabe Clement added five points as he also hit a three-pointer.

Cory-Rawson finished the first half on a run as they pulled within 37-13 of the Bulldogs with an 8-1 run. Birnesser ended the first half scoring with a long three as he hit four three-pointers in the first half for a 40-13 Grove lead.

Birnesser continued his hot hand into the third quarter coring 11 points in just over a two minute span to start the half. He had three three-pointers during that run that gave him seven, one off the school record. He would tie and break the school record later in the quarter and added a tenth three early in the fourth quarter before heading to the bench for the night.

Birnesser finished with 36 points on the night and broke the school record for three-pointers in a game held by Bulldog junior varsity coach Connor Kohls, set in the 2012 season. The record for three-pointers in a game was tied two weeks ago by girls freshman player Kenzie King.

“He shot the heck out of the ball,” Sautter said. “We gave him the green light and said keep shooting. When you are feeling it like that, you just have to keep letting them fly. He filled them up tonight.”

Clement, also a sophomore, added 16 points to the Bulldog win as nine different players scored in the game.

Roth paced the Hornets with 14 points.