DELPHOS — One boys basketball coach is starting to find some answers. The other is still looking for them.

First-year Jefferson head coach Jordan Jettinghoff is the former and Columbus Grove first-year head man Chris Sautter is the latter after a 53-36 Northwest Conference triumph by the Wildcats Friday night on The Stage.

The Wildcats (4-6, 2-0 NWC) — winners of three straight — shot 51 percent from the field (25-of-49), with Jace Stockwell’s 21 points and Tyler Bratton’s 10 leading the way.

“We had five guys defending as one tonight. We knew we had to help on (Rece) Roney but when he got the ball, we had guys doubling down on him and yet recovering to their shooters quickly; it also helps that we have some size to combat him and rotated people on him to wear him down,” Jettinghoff said. “We also won the boards by a lot. The kids are starting to really catch on to the fact that when we limit our opponents’ second opportunities on our defensive glass, we can be very difficult to score against.”

On the other end, the Bulldogs (2-5, 0-2) only canned 13-of-40 from the field (33 percent), with Roney and Caiden Grothaus downing 11 and Logan Malsam 10.

“We have the physical ability without a doubt. Where we are lacking is between the ears,” Sautter said. “When things don’t go our way, we have guys hanging their heads or not focusing on the job at hand. We don’t have that one guy yet that can take the leadership of this team and make sure we’re doing and playing as we’re supposed to. If we find that, we’ll be OK, but until we do, we’ll struggle. We haven’t played in two weeks and it showed but we still have that problem.”

After Malsam’s 3-pointer at 7:10 gave the Bulldogs the early lead, there was one trade of the lead and one tie. Grove led 6-4 on a foul shot by Roney at the 5-minute mark, but Stockwell tied it with a basket a short time later, and Alex Rode gave the Wildcats the lead a minute later. With the Wildcats limiting the Bulldogs to one shot nearly every time down and keeping Roney from dominating inside, the Wildcats led 12-9 after one quarter.

Jefferson’s offense stayed humming in the second period as they turned the visitors over five times and shot a smooth 7-of-12 versus 4-of-8 for their guests. Stockwell’s eight led the first period for the hosts and Rode stepped up for six in the second. Drake Schmitt and Stockwell netted back-to-back baskets — the latter at 4:30 to give the hosts the lead for good — and jump-started a 15-2 run. Rode’s 15-footer from the right wing two seconds before the horn gave the hosts a 27-17 halftime edge.

That run continued into the third period as Brenen Auer hit a transition basket at 7:16 for a 29-17 edge. Grove’s rally then was short-lived as the Wildcats eventually built a 35-22 edge on a jumper form the left corner by Tyler Bratton at 3:22 before Grove started to come back and got within 39-32 on a foul shot by Roney .

The Wildcats held Grove pointless for the first 4:38 of the finale, taking a 45-35 advantage at 5:03 on a free throw by Auer. A 3-point play by Malsam at 3:22 broke the streak but that was the last hurrah as the Bulldogs did not score again.

Columbus Grove hosts Fort Jennings in a PCL clash Saturday. Jefferson visits Crestview in NWC action next Friday.

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COLUMBUS GROVE (36)

Caiden Grothaus 5-12 1-1 11, Ryan Tabler 0-1 0-0 0, Grant Cassidy 1-2 0-0 3, Grayson Flores 0-2 0-0 0, Logan Schroeder 0-3 1-2 1, Lachlan Clymer 0-1 0-0 0, Logan Malsam 4-7 1-1 10, Rece Roney 3-12 4-6 11. Totals 13-40 7-10 36.

JEFFERSON (53)

Jace Stockwell 10-21 1-1 21, Drew Reiss 3-7 1-1 7, Trey Gossman 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Bratton 5-7 0-0 10, Brenen Auer 1-3 1-2 3, Kyle Wreede 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Rode 4-5 0-0 8, Davion Tyson 0-1 0-0 0, Nick Long 0-0 0-0 0, Drake Schmitt 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 25-49 3-4 52.

Col. Grove 9 8 15 4 - 36

Jefferson 12 15 12 14 - 53

Three-point Field Goals/Percentage: Columbus Grove 3-13/23 (Cassidy, Malsam, Roney), Jefferson 0-4/0. Rebounds: Columbus Grove 21/4 off. (Roney 7), Jefferson 31/8 off. (Rode 10). Assists: Columbus Grove 8 (Roney 3), Jefferson 11 (Reiss/Rode 3). Steals: Columbus Grove 6 (Malsam/Roney 2), Jefferson 10 (Reiss 5). Blocks: Columbus Grove 2 (Grothaus/Roney 1), Jefferson 5 (Bratton/Schmitt 2). Turnovers: Columbus Grove 15, Jefferson 11. Fouls: Columbus Grove 13, Jefferson 11.