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SYRACUSE — Thursday night proved a couple of things about Columbia City girls’ basketball. The Lady Eagles can win and win on the road against sectional competition.
Both become increasingly important as the regular season enters its last three weeks of play.
A 48-37 win at Wawasee (10-3) only solidified that for Columbia City head coach Amy Shearer.
“This was a really good road win for us,” Shearer said. “There is no easy wins coming into Wawasee. Anytime you can come in here and get a win, it’s a good one.”
The match-up of sectional foes took place with Columbia City riding a four-game winning streak while Wawasee had seen its only two losses come to state-ranked No. 3 (class 3A) Norwell and No. 3 (class A) Fort Wayne Canterbury.
The Lady Eagles quickly looked to be the third team to hand the Lady Warriors a loss jumping out to a 12-5 lead after one quarter of play.
Behind the hot hand of senior forward Sierria Burlage, Columbia City shot 44 percent from the field in the first half.
Burlage used 10 points in the second quarter to help the Lady Eagles extend their lead to double figures 26-8 by halftime.
Columbia City had 10 points come on second chance put backs with Burlage leading the way with a double-double of 12 rebounds to go along with a game-high 20 points.
“She had an all around good basketball game,” Shearer said of Burlage. “She scored, rebounded, had assists, blocks and only two turnovers.”
Burlage stepped up her offense production with fellow senior starter Kayla Dunn out with an injury. Burlage went 8-for-12 from the field for the game.
Columbia City’s second quarter run had the Lady Eagles scoring the first 14 points. Wawasee was held to just three points getting all of them from the free throw line in the last 15 seconds of the quarter.
“We did a great job defensively and came out aggressive,” Shearer commented. “But the second half they made some adjustments and we knew they would.”
The Lady Warriors caught Columbia City when it wasn’t looking opening the second half of play with a 6-1 run.
By the end of the third quarter, Wawasee had the lead down to 11 points with its three top scorers all contributing.
Amy Walker, Kilee Knafel and Kiley Cooper all posted double digit scoring. Knafel’s penetration in the lane opened the door for not only her offensive opportunities but for Walker and Cooper in the post.
With full court pressure troubling the Lady Eagles, Wawasee closed the margin to its smallest 39-33 with 2:04 remaining.
A midst a dwindling lead, Maddie Hinen helped City hold off the Warriors. Five steals by the senior guard cut off late rallies by Wawasee. Hinen went 3-for-6 from the field scoring 10 points.
“We’ve had confidence in her all along,” Shearer said of Hinen. “She’s in a new role and she knows we have confidence in her and she’s finding her shot.”
A shot on the baseline by senior Anna O’Dell sealed the victory giving Columbia City an eight point lead with a minute left.
Columbia City finished shooting 17-for-40 for the game while Wawasee’s second half rally boosted a poor shooting first half to 27 percent for the game.