FINDLAY — Columbus Grove didn’t have the extremely quick start they did against Cory-Rawson Friday night.

Instead the Bulldogs used a couple of quick bursts before going on a big run. Those early runs gave Columbus Grove a lead McComb was unable to overcome in a 73-46 win over the Panthers in a Division IV district semi-final at Findlay High School.

With the win, the Bulldogs advance to the district finals Friday night at Findlay against Arlington at 7 p.m. The Red Devils advanced with a 58-35 win over Riverdale in the first game at Findlay Tuesday night. The Bulldogs and Red Devils met back in December with Arlington taking a three point win on their home court.

Columbus Grove scored the first eight points of the game Tuesday night as Gabe Clement and Alex Schneider both hit a three-pointer. The Panthers pulled within 8-5 after three free throws by Tanner Schroeder. The Bulldogs responded with a 6-0 run as they were up 14-7 after one quarter.

McComb pulled within 14-9 on a Tristin Sherick basket to start the second quarter. Columbus Grove then went on a 17-2 run to take a 31-11 lead. Blake Reynolds scored six points during the run for Grove, while Tayt Birnesser started to find his range dropping in a pair of back-to-back three-pointers. Schneider made it 31-11 with a jumper before Schroeder hit two free throws to halt the Bulldogs run.

“That 8-0 start was big,” Columbus Grove coach Chris Sautter. “With our team it’s all about getting off to a good start and when we did that was good. They battled back, making it 8-5. Tayt couldn’t find it early, but once he saw that first one go in that kind of opened up the floor for everyone else and gave him confidence and he was able to hit a few more, especially in the second half.”

While the Grove offense was hitting its stride their defense was playing well on the other end. Columbus Grove limited the Panthers top scorers in Schroeder and Tyler Durfey early as they pulled away, plus the Bulldogs were strong on the boards as the Panthers had just one offensive rebound in the game. Reynolds was a force on the boards for the Bulldogs pulling down several rebounds in the contest.

“We like Blake inside protecting the rim and securing about 90 percent of the rebounds. Most nights he’s not going to score the most points, but he’s going to have the biggest impact on the game in terms of rebounding, guarding and passing the ball up the floor in transition,” Sautter said. “You saw in the second quarter he was guarding Schroeder on the perimeter. He just does a little bit of everything and does what we need him to do.”

Schroeder had just three points at the half and Durfey, who had 36 points in a sectional game, was held to four points.

Columbus Grove had a 36-15 halftime lead as Birnesser ended the Bulldogs scoring in the first half with another three. Durfey scored just before the buzzer for the Panthers.

While the Bulldogs were unable to get the game to a running clock, they maintained a 20 point lead throughout the half as their biggest lead in the third quarter was 28 points at 48-20 after another pair of three-pointers by Birnesser, who had six for game and led the Bulldogs with a game high 22 points.

Columbus Grove had four players in double-double digits as Grayson Flores finished with 12 points, nine in the fourth quarter. Reynolds and Schneider both finished with 11 points.

“I thought Grayson had a nice night and Alex came off the bench and had double digits,” Sautter said. “We put Gabe (Clement) and Hop (Evan Hopkins) on Durfey and Schroeder and you want them to guard them 94 feet and that takes a lot out of you. It’s hard to hit shots when you are expending that much energy defensively. Our guys have grown into their roles and Gabe and Hop know night in and night out we need them to guard and do those things. They will get their points here and there, but they have bought into being those perimeter defenders we need to help us win games like this.”

Durfey paced the Panthers with 18 points, as nine of those came in the fourth quarter. Schroeder finished with eight points, five of them in the final quarter as coach Sautter went to his bench frequently with the big lead.