Post and Mail photo / James Thomlison
Senior Matt Rethlake takes a pair of free throws in the final seconds against Concordia.
COLUMBIA CITY â€” The seniors â€” along with the rest of the Columbia City basketball team â€” are heading into the tourney having finished their regular season with a win.
The Eagles beat the visiting Fort Wayne Concordia 64-55 on senior night, the final regular season contest of the season for the twelfth graders.
â€śThose guys are all amazing,â€ť said junior Derek Hinen. â€śWe have a special bond with each one of those guys; in a system like Columbia Cityâ€™s I think you get to know each other better than a lot of other systemâ€™s in the state.â€ť
Senior Tristan Wright and junior Drew Benedict both hit from beyond the arc in the first quarter. Derek Hinen scored a basket and Daniel Woll chipped in four points, giving Columbia City 12 points and a two-point advantage heading into the second stanza.
Despite another bucket from Woll and five points from Hinen, the Eagles couldnâ€™t hold the lead through the period. Concordia held a slim 23-22 lead heading into the locker room for the break.
The third quarter was a high scoring affair for both teams, with Columbia City regaining the lead, although a small one.
Senior Matt Rethlake put in two of his five points and Hinen added six more. Austin Paul scored four.
The Eagles out-scored the Cadets 22-19 in the period, good for a 44-42 lead with eight minutes left in the game.
In the fourth quarter, Hinen â€” who led the team with 22 points â€” was 7-for-8 from the free throw line, icing the final two points of the match-up.
Coach Benedict said Hinen has been playing with great consistency lately, taking good shots and capitalizing on opportunities to get to the basket. Hinen also analyzed his game of late.
â€śIâ€™m playing a little more aggressive now â€” a little more within our system. I was a little shaky at the beginning of the season but now weâ€™re all starting to turn it on, not just me. You need to have everyone click come tourney time and we are definitely having that,â€ť Hinen said.
Following sectional play, Columbia City will be losing seniors Drew Burnsworth, Brandon Gay, Jacob Johnson, Tristan Wright and Matt Rethlake.
The Eagles head into the tournament with a 15-7 record against a 10-11 DeKalb team Tuesday at 7 p.m. in DeKalb.
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