COLUMBUS GROVE — Last year was a highly successful one for the Columbus Grove Bulldogs, who reached regional play for just the third time in school history. In addition, Grove finished second in the PCL at 6-1 and tied for first with Division IV state champion Crestview in the NWC, at 7-1.
With four starters and six letter winners returning, expectations are high for another highly successful Columbus Grove season.
The loss of letter winners to graduation was minimal. Graduating were Grayson Flores (6.2 points per game), Dylan Mason (1.4 points) and Cody Johnson (1.3 points).
The top returnees are junior guards Tayt Birnesser (14.4 points per game and 4.4 rebounds) and Blake Reynolds (13.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists). Other returnees are junior guard Gabe Clemens (7.4 points), senior guards Evan Hopkins (5.4 points) and junior forward Ethan Halker.
Newcomers who will add to a deep bench are senior guards Tanner Smith and Owen Macke, junior guard Blaine Hoffman, sophomore forward Brayden Bellman and sophomore guards Jacksen Schroeder, Landon Myers and Trey Sautter.
The top rebounders for the Bulldogs, along with the 6-3 Reynolds and 6-2 Birnesser, should be Bellman (6-4), Hoffman (6-2) and Schneider (6-1).
“We need to handle the expectations and play to our potential, because we are going to get everyone’s best shot, night in and night out,” said Grove coach Chris Sautter.