COLUMBIA CITY — The Donald S. Weeks gymnasium hosted a dogfight Saturday night between two Northeast Hoosier Conference foes.
The score was close throughout the entire game, but Columbia City (9-3, 3-1 NHC) was able to pick up a four-point lead in the final seconds leaving DeKalb (5-7, 1-3 NHC) behind 44-40.
With the score so low, the game proved to be a defensive battle. The Eagles held DeKalb to just eight points in the fourth quarter.
Columbia City found themselves in a quick six-point deficit going into the final minutes of the first quarter, but Drew Burnsworth and Jared Murphy stepped up and hit consecutive three-pointers in the final minute of the quarter to tie the game.
Not only did Murphy spark the team offensively, he helped out on defense as well.
“Jared sparked us defensively,” Columbia City head coach Chris Benedict said.
Despite all of DeKalb’s efforts to shut down Drew Benedict, the Eagles leading scorer still ran away with 18 points.
“They do a good job screening for him and when he starts hitting some shots he’s hard to stop,” DeKalb head coach Jon Everingham said.
The Eagles picked up a 22-14 lead over the Barons midway through the second quarter but DeKalb came back in the final seconds of the quarter, settling the score at 22-21.
Drew Benedict took over in the third quarter scoring eight of Columbia City’s 11 points.
But DeKalb matched those 11 points keeping the score close going into the fourth quarter.
The Barons turned up the pressure on Drew Benedict defensively, which opened things up for other Eagles to step up.
“The more he (Drew) moves without the ball, the easier it makes it on everyone else,” coach Benedict said.
Brandon Gay and Derek Hinen hit consecutive three-pointers, that carried the Eagles to the win.
“Hinen and Gay’s threes in the fourth quarter were huge,” coach Benedict said.
With Columbia City up 39-38 and 3:55 to go, DeKalb held the ball for three minutes without a shot then were unable to convert in the final seconds.
“I was glad to see our guys grit it out a little bit,” coach Benedict said. “I’m glad our guys stuck through it mentally in the second half.”