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COLUMBIA CITY â€” This was obviously not the sort of early Christmas present the Columbia City Eagle boysâ€™ basketball team was looking for.
The visiting Wawasee Warriors got out early and then used a big third quarter to hand the host Eagles a 66-48 loss Tuesday night.
The Eagles trailed 38-31 at halftime, but the visiting Warriors went on a 17-4 run in the third quarter to put the Eagles in a 55-35 hole.
â€śThey (Wawasee) are a difficult team to play against when coming from behind,â€ť Columbia City Coach Chris Benedict said.
â€śThey are very strong. They are big inside. They finish well inside. For as many threes as they shoot, they hit a lot of twos tonight.
â€śThey didnâ€™t beat us from the three-point line, they beat us from the two-point line.â€ť
The Warriors, normally a three-point shooting team, went inside against the shorter Eagles from the start, with 6-foot, 6-inch Cody McBride picking up seven of Wawaseeâ€™s 16 first-quarter points.
The Eagles countered with penetration from sophomore Derek Hinen.
Hinen picked up four of his game-high 21 points in the first quarter to keep the Eagles in the contest.
The hosts also got a three-pointer from fellow sophomore Drew Benedict in the first quarter as the Warriors took a 16-9 lead at the first stop.
The Eagles played the Warriors even in the second quarter, pulling within five at 20-15 and 23-28, once on a Ben Murphy tip-in and the second time on a basket by sophomore Daniel Woll.
McBride continued to score inside for Wawasee, notching another seven points in the second quarter as both the Eagles and the Warriors put up 22 points in the second stanza.
The third quarter proved to be the Eaglesâ€™ undoing as the Warriors continued to score inside and also hit three baskets from behind the arc to take a 20-point lead, 55-35 at the end of the third quarter.
â€śIt was disappointing in that we just didnâ€™t put up much of a fight defensively.
â€śThey are a team that puts up a lot of points, and 66 probably isnâ€™t a lot for them, but they were able to get points pretty much however they wanted them tonight,â€ť Benedict said.
The fourth quarter saw the Eagles make a brief surge with six points from Hinen and a basket and a three-pointer from Brandon Gay that cut the Warrior lead to 60-44.
The Warriors went to a delay game to maintain the lead, forcing the Eagles to try for the steal or to foul.
The lead hovered around the final margin of 66-48 as time ran out.
â€śFrom an offensive standpoint tonight, we only had one guy that was looking to attack the basket tonight,â€ť said Benedict.
â€śAnd Derek did a good job of penetrating and finishing, but when you only get one guy who is looking to attack, itâ€™s very difficult.â€ť
The Eagles lost a certain amount of speed and offensive penetration when Jared Murphy went to the bench early in the second half with his third foul.
â€śJared does a very good job of penetrating to the basket, but his foul trouble tonight limited his usefulness for us,â€ť noted Benedict.
â€śHopefully we have learned a little bit from this game and a little bit about ourselves that we can use to improve from here on out,â€ť said Benedict.â€ť
JV Eagles 40
The Columbia City JV Eagles used a 17-4 third quarter advantage to break open a close contest, defeating Wawasee 40-29. Fueling the offensive surge were four three-point baskets in the quarter from junior Greg Bockelman. Bockelman led the Eagle scorers with 16 points. The Eagles outscored the Warriors 24-9 from behind the three-point line in the contest. Jacob Johnson added eight points for the Eagle JV, with Kohl Smith tossing in six.