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SOUTH WHITLEY â€” This yearâ€™s Columbia City-Whitko rivalry game didnâ€™t come down to a last-second shot like last year.
In fact, Columbia City took the lead 3:30 into the game and never looked back, winning 61-41.
But the loss wasnâ€™t from lack of Wildcat effort, more like bad luck.
Expected Whitko starter Lucky Winters was out of the game with an ACL tear, and Head Coach Rob Irwin isnâ€™t sure of his status.
Logan Irwinâ€™s 20 points was about half of the Wildcatsâ€™ offensive output.
â€śWeâ€™re still trying to find out whoâ€™s going to be our guys,â€ť Irwin said. â€śThis is a different team than I thought we were going to have at the beginning of the season.â€ť
Irwin scored Whitkoâ€™s first six points, while Columbia City used an arsenal of players to put points on the board.
The Eagles had three players score in double digits.
The three combined for all 16 of Columbia Cityâ€™s first quarter points. Whitko had nine.
The Eagles extended their lead in the second quarter with four three pointers; three from Benedict and one from Austin Paul, a transfer from Huntington North.
Paul had eight points and four rebounds in his first game as an Eagle.
â€śAustin had a great first game for us,â€ť Benedict said. â€śHe seemed to fit in with everyone well.â€ť
Columbia City had a 30-15 lead at halftime.
Hinen took his turn in the third quarter, scoring 10 points; three baskets off assists by Woll.
Whitko had a seven point rally to end the third quarter to make the score 48-26 going into the final eight minutes.
The Wildcats outscored Columbia City 15-13 in the fourth quarter, but it wasnâ€™t enough to pick up the win, ending the game with a 61-41 score.
Overall, Benedict was happy with his teamâ€™s performance.
â€śColumbia City is one of the best teams in the state,â€ť Irwin said.
The Eagles host Warsaw Saturday.
For a more in-depth story, pick up Friday's edition of The Post and Mail.