By MICHAEL BURWELL
COLUMBUS GROVE — The final play went exactly as Columbus Grove girls basketball head coach Brian Schroeder drew it up.
And for the Bulldogs, it was a sophomore who came through on Senior Night.
Trailing 43-42 with 1.3 seconds left against Northwest Conference rival Ada, 6-foot-1 sophomore center Lynea Diller snuck to the backside and made the game-winning bucket from the left block off of an inbounds pass from half court to give Columbus Grove a 44-43 win on Thursday.
“(Diller) just kind of faked like she was going to screen and just slipped to the backside, and our senior point guard Rachel Schumacher put it right on the money and Lynea made a play,” Schroeder said. “A lot of times at the end of the game, you draw up a play and it doesn’t get executed or it just kind of falls apart, but that wasn’t the case. That was the way we drew it up.”
The lead changed hands three times in the final minute of play as both teams went back and forth. Sydney McCluer, who led Columbus Grove with 11 points and three steals, had her biggest play of the night when she stole the ball and finished with a layup on the other end to give the Bulldogs a 42-40 lead with 35 seconds left.
Ada came right back as freshman Haley Wyss banked a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to regain the lead, 43-42.
After Columbus Grove was forced to call timeout with 1.3 seconds left due to Ada’s defense trapping McCluer in the corner, Diller’s buzzer-beater caused the home crowd to erupt.
“That’s one of those games that you hate to see somebody lose because both teams deserved to win, but our girls just had the ball last and made the last play,” Schroeder said.
“It’s a hard game to lose like that,” said Ada head coach Neal Dumbaugh. “I felt like the kids earned a win.”
Although Diller hit the game-winning shot, Columbus Grove’s seniors stepped up.
Julia Wynn and Sammi Stechschulte each scored nine points and combined to grab 20 rebounds. Although Schumacher didn’t score, the 5-foot-4 senior had the assist on the final play.
After Ada went ahead 25-21 at halftime due in part to a 17-10 second-quarter advantage, Wynn scored six of her points in the third quarter, including a basket down low with three seconds left to tie the game at 32.
“We kind of expected this to be a close game. They were a good team, but it was our last home game, so we had a lot of fire in us to come out and win,” said Wynn, a 5-foot-10 senior.
It was Stechschulte’s turn to do the scoring in the fourth quarter. The 5-foot-8 senior scored five straight points: a 3-pointer and a bucket in the paint off of an offensive rebound, to give Columbus Grove a 40-38 lead.
Schroeder said the seniors “had a lot of jitters and were pretty wired to begin the game.” Columbus Grove committed 12 of its’ 13 turnovers in the first half.
“The first half was pretty sloppy,” Schroeder said. “We had a lot of careless turnovers and just miscommunications on defense, so we really used halftime not so much to make a ton of adjustments but just to settle everybody down.”
Tori Wyss scored 11 points to lead Ada (8-12, 3-5 NWC). Her pair of free throws gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 14-13, early in the second quarter. Ada took advantage of Columbus Grove’s foul trouble by shooting 8 of 10 from the line in the second period.
Wyss’ 3-pointer with 1:03 left in the third quarter gave Ada a 32-27 lead, its’ biggest of the game.
ada (8-12, 3-5 nwc)
Marshall 2-0—5, Amburgey 2-0—5, Faine 3-0—7, Wildman 1-1—3, Walden 2-0—4, H. Wyss 1-5—8, T. Wyss 3-4—11. TOTALS: 14-41 10-12—43.
columbus grove (13-8, 5-3 nwc)
McCluer 3-3—11, Clement 2-0—4, Stechschulte 3-2—9, Wynn 4-1—9, Schumacher 0-0—0, Yinger 2-0—6, Diller 1-2—4, Vorhees 0-0—0, Endicott 0-0—0, Hoffman 0-1—1, Wurth 0-0—0. TOTALS: 15-47 9-16—44.
Ada 8 17 7 11 — 43
Columbus Grove 11 10 11 12 — 44
3-Point GOALS: Ada 5-14 (Marshall, Amburgey, Faine, H. Wyss, T. Wyss); Columbus Grove 5-25 (McCluer & Yinger 2, Stechschulte).
rebounds: Ada 20, Columbus Grove 31 (Wynn 12).
junior varsity: Columbus Grove, 56-24.