SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor
Jacoby Kelly and Drew Bagley combined for 44 points and the Van Wert Cougars snapped a three game losing streak with a 68-59 non-conference win over visiting Columbus Grove on Saturday night.
Bagley, a 6-4 junior scored 13 of his 17 points in the first quarter, while Kelly dropped in 13 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter.
After Nate Place opened the scoring with a bucket, Bagley drilled consecutive treys to give Van Wert an 8-1 lead. Kelly had back-to-back steals and baskets to push the lead to 15-1. Bagley added two more baskets late in the period, and the Cougars enjoyed a 22-12 lead after one quarter.
“He’s really worked hard and worked through some adversity in getting the football out of him,” Van Wert head coach Mark Bagley said of his son. “He (Drew) set the tone for us in the first half and got us going, then Jacoby took over from there.”
On the strength of a basket by Owen Treece, two foul shots by Bagley and a bucket by Kelly, the Cougars increased the lead to 28-13 in the second quarter. Blake Henry added a basket, Bagley had another score, and Kelly and Place each hit foul shots while the defense held the Bulldogs to just eight points, including a late triple by Tayt Birnesser.
Already leading 36-20 to begin the third quarter, Kelly immediately went to work and with a basket and a trey. The 5-10 senior later closed the period with three consecutive baskets, and the Cougars led 57-35.
Blake Henry got into the scoring act in the fourth quarter by scoring six of his 10 points, including a two-handed dunk midway through the period. Meanwhile, Columbus Grove (3-6) scored 24 points in the quarter, including 11 by Birnesser and four apiece by Blake Reynolds, Dane Selby and Cody Johnson.
“John Lee guarded their best player who’s averaging 25 points a game (Reynolds) and held him to seven after three quarters,” Bagley said. “For three and a half quarters I was really pleased with our defense, but in the last four or five minutes it got sloppy.”
“Give them (Columbus Grove) credit,” Bagley added. “They never stopped playing.”
The Cougars (3-3) will host St. Marys in a Western Buckeye League game on Friday, then will travel to Fort Carroll (IN) on Saturday, and Bagley said the two opponents will present different challenges.
“On Friday night we’re playing a football team against St. Marys,” Bagley explained. “They are physical and athletic, and they’ll probably play a lot of different defenses with some man and matchup zone.”
“Carroll is probably the best offensive team we’ll see all season. They’re a huge school, and they’re very good year in and year out and this year is no different.”
Both games will air live on WERT 1220AM and 104.3FM.
Van Wert 22 14 19 11 – 68
Cols. Grove 12 8 15 24 – 59
Van Wert: Nate Place 2-5-9; Jacoby Kelly 10-4-27; Owen Treece 2-0-5; Blake Henry 5-0-10; Drew Bagley 6-2-17
Columbus Grove: Blake Reynolds 3-3-12; Grayson Flores 0-2-2; Logan Schroeder 1-0-3; Tayt Birnesser 5-2-16; Logan Malsam 3-1-7; Dane Selby 3-1-7; Cody Johnson 6-0-12
JV: Van Wert won 74-63