NORTH MANCHESTER — In baseball, it’s not always necessary to swing for the fences when singles will do. In basketball, its not always necessary to hit the long three-point bomb when going inside for the close shot is working.
The Columbia City Eagle boys’ basketball team worked that adage to near perfection Friday night as they used a strong inside game to build a commanding first half lead on their way to a 54-39 win over the hosting Manchester Squires.
Sophomore guard Drew Benedict started the contest off on the right foot for the Eagles knocking down a three from the right side to open the contest.
Benedict’s three was the last Columbia City field goal of the first half to come from outside the paint. The Eagle trio of Tyler Mosher, Daniel Woll, and Ben Murphy accounted for 20 of Columbia City’s 27 first field goal points.
“We made a conscious effort (to get the ball inside) after the first 30-second time out,” Columbia City coach Chris Benedict said. “We had been trying to do some things in transition that just weren’t there. It seemed like tonight we were trying to hit the home run when all we needed to do was hit singles.
Other than Bendict’s three, the rest of Columbia City’s first quarter points came either from the free throw line or inside from Mosher and Murphy.
Mosher got an inside basket and then a offensive rebound to put in four first quarter points with Murphy adding another basket to help stake the Eagles to an 11-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles (13-5) went right back inside in the second quarter with Mosher dropping in ten of his game high 18 points in the stanza.
“Tyler did a really good job of establishing himself inside,” Benedict said. “When we get the ball in the paint good things can happen for us.”
Sophomore Daniel Woll added six inside points in the quarter as the Eagles ran out to a 27-13 lead at halftime.
The Eagles built their largest lead of the game in the third quarter. Consecutive inside baskets by Woll, a basket and two free throws from Mosher and another three pointer by Benedict pushed the Columbia City lead to 40-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the opening moments of the final period the Squires (3-15) were able to cut into the Columbia City lead, hitting two long three pointers, and then driving the ball along the baseline.
“We didn’t really keep the ball out of the paint like we did Wednesday night,” Benedict said. “Manchester hit a couple of shots and maybe our guys got out of position and just didn’t break down into a good defensive stance.”
Manchester guards Derek Self and Austin Flack both hit threes to open up the path to the basket. Flack and Manchester forward Scott Baker strung together inside baskets to cut the Columbia City lead to 47-36 with 1:25 left in the game.
That is as close as the Squires got as a lay-up by Murphy and a three-pointer by junior Greg Bockelman put the Eagles up 54-36.
Three late Manchester free throws helped account for the final 54-39 margin.
Mosher led all scorers with 18 points while Woll tossed in 14 on 7-of-9 shooting.
Woll and Mosher snagged seven rebounds each to lead the Eagles in that category.