By Ted Radick
OTTAWA — Molly Ellerbrock was never supposed to take the final shot.
With 1.2 seconds left and the score tied at 47-47 in Tuesday’s Division IV sectional semifinal at Ottawa-Glandorf, Leipsic had a play set up for senior Chelsea Gerten to attempt a buzzer-beater.
Columbus Grove smothered Gerten, however, and Leipsic’s Shari Mangas had no option other than to inbound the ball to Ellerbrock.
The sophomore guard caught the inbounds pass in the corner, dribbled once and fired up a game-winning 3-pointer as Leipsic finished a late comeback to defeat the Bulldogs 50-47.
Leipsic (8-13) advances to play Holgate in Saturday’s sectional final at O-G. Columbus Grove ends its season at 9-12.
In the first game Tuesday, Miller City romped to a 14-0 lead, was up 18-5 after one quarter and cruised to a 62-33 win over Bluffton.
The Wildcats (5-17) advance to play Pandora-Gilboa (18-2) at 6:15 p.m. Saturday in the other sectional final at O-G. Bluffton ends its season 4-17.
Leipsic trailed much of the game and was down 45-41 with 24 seconds left when the Vikings forced Columbus Grove’s Kelsey Fruchey into a turnover.
Mangas, who finished with a team-high 15 points, then banged home a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 45-44 with 17 seconds left.
Leipsic fouled on the ensuing inbounds play. Grove’s Nikki Stechschulte, who had a game-high 17 points, hit a pair of double-bonus free throws with 16 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 47-44 cushion.
Gerten nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 47-47 with six seconds remaining. Grove passed the ball quickly in the backcourt to drain the clock, but Paige Gerdeman lost the ball on the sidelines, one of four Columbus Grove turnovers in the last minute and a half that let the Vikings have a chance to win.
“I was out of timeouts, we were trying to set a double screen for Chelsea Gerten coming out top,” Leipsic coach Gary Kreinbrink said of the final possession. “But it wasn’t there, and we were just trying to get the ball inbounds at that point.
“Molly hit a great shot, obviously, and it completed a comeback when things didn’t look very good for us. Fortunately, they made some mistakes with their ballhandling at the end and that gave us a few more possessions.”
Leipsic scored 25 points in the fourth quarter after tallying 25 in the first three quarters. The Vikings trailed 34-25 after three quarters but forced eight Columbus Grove turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“You talk about a kick in the old gut right there,” Columbus Grove coach Chad Ricker said. “Chelsea Gerten hits a tying 3-pointer from three feet behind the line, and we had a hand in her face. Ellerbrock didn’t see the basket when she turned and threw it up.
“But you know what, sometimes it just goes that way. Now, we shouldn’t have in position to have that happen. We had turnovers, we dribbled it off our foot two times in the last minute and we missed some foul shots in the fourth quarter that would have put this game away.
Chelsea Gerten scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds for Leipsic. Emily Gerten added 11 points.
Gerdeman scored 13 points and Anna Ricker 11 for the Bulldogs. Ricker and Stechshulte each had six rebounds.
In the first game, Jessica Nienberg led three Miller City players in double digits with 17 points, including five 3-pointers. Jessica Leis scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Jessica Michel added 13 points.
Miller City forced the Pirates into 35 turnovers, including 11 in the first quarter, and to 12 of 35 shooting from the floor.
“That’s been our problem all season long,” Bluffton coach Dennis Lee said. “We’re averaging 25 turnovers a game and that makes it hard to win.”
“We wanted to get out and put some pressure on their guards, and our defense played pretty well tonight,” Miller City coach Chris Rump said. “Getting the ball inside was key for us too. Our big girls were able to knock down shots.”
Bluffton was able to close the gap to five points at one point in the second quarter, but Miller City stretched the lead to 15 at halftime and outscored the Pirates 26-8 in the third quarter.
Mariah Welch led Bluffton with 19 points.
Welch 7-5—19, Guagenti 2-1—5, A. Lugibihl 0-0—0, Althaus 0-0—0, Stratton 2-2—6, Lengyel 0-0—0, Harrod 1-0—2, Wenger 0-1—1, Amstutz 0-0—0, Palte 0-0—0. TOTALS: 12-35 9-21—33.
Miller City (62)
Schroeder 0-2—2, S. Michel 0-0—0, Palte 0-0—0, Leis 6-4—16, Drummelsmith 2-0—4, Niese 0-0—0, Gerschutz 0-0—0, Nienberg 6-0—17, Leis 0-0—0, Berger 0-0—0, Steffan 2-0—4, Niese 0-0—0, M. Michel 2-1—6, J. Michel 6-1—13. TOTALS: 24-61 8-17—62.
Bluffton 5 13 8 7 — 33
Miller City 18 14 26 4 — 62
3-Point GOALS: Miller City 6-17 (Nienberg 5, M. Michel 1); Bluffton 0-4.
rebounds: Miller City 35 (Leis 8); Bluffton 25 (Lengyel 7).
turnovers: Bluffton 35, Miller City 20.
Ellerbrock 2-3—8, E. Gerten 2-7-11, C. Gerten 4-4—14, Mangas 6-2—15, Brown 1-0—2, Wolf 0-0—0, Henry 0-0—0, E. Schroeder 0-0—0, A. Schroeder 0-0—0, K. Gerten 0-0—0. TOTALS: 15-48 16-21—50.
columbus grove (47)
Ricker 3-3—11, Brubaker 0-1—1, N. Stechschulte 6-5—17, Birchmeier 2-0—4, R. Stechschulte 0-0—0, Fruchey 0-0—0, Gerdeman 4-5—13, Scott 0-0—0, Diller 0-1—1. TOTALS: 15-42 15-25—47.
Leipsic 8 7 10 25 — 50
Columbus Grove 9 11 14 13 — 47
3-Point GOALS: Leipsic 4-20 (C. Gerten 2, Ellerbrock, Mangas); Columbus Grove 2-10 (Ricker 2).
rebounds: Leipsic 23 (C. Gerten 9); Columbus Grove 30 (Ricker 6, N. Stechschulte 6).
turnovers: Leipsic 13, Columbus Grove 20.