City stagnant in NHC debut

   COLUMBIA CITY — Saturday wasn’t the ideal way Columbia City (5-2) girls’ basketball wanted to start the Northeast Hoosier Conference.
   Hosting Carroll (3-4), the Lady Eagles saw a close contest get away from them in the second half. With neither team seeing more than a five-point lead all game, a 4-for-19 second half shooting slump by    Columbia City helped the Lady Chargers pick up a win on the road 52-46.
   “We just didn’t come ready to play tonight,” Columbia City head coach Amy Shearer said. “We just didn’t play well. We were too stagnant on offense. Too many people standing around.”
   Ten lead changes in the first half saw Columbia City dip in and out of good moments.
   Trailing much of the first quarter, the Lady Eagles closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run helped along by its top scorer for the night in senior Kayla Dunn.
   Dunn scored four of her 13 points for the game to give City an 11-8 lead after one period.
   Columbia City saw its largest deficit of the first half with 1:38 left in the second quarter. Twice, Carroll’s Mallory Hester put the Eagles down by four points with the last coming at 21-17.
   Foul trouble forced Columbia City’s two starting post players Corinna Raypole and Sierra Burlage to the bench halfway through the second.
   Senior Maddie Hinen helped the Lady Eagles close the second quarter like they did the first. Hitting four consecutive free throws in an 11 points night, Hinen put Columbia City up at halftime 23-21 on a 6-0 run.
   “We shot some free throws well and got some transition baskets in the first half,” Shearer noted. “We had some looks in the second half but when it comes down to it we’re expecting one person to make a  superstar play. We have to have all five kids.”
   Three-pointers were a heartbreaker for the Lady Eagles in the second half. Gaining their biggest lead in the third 27-23, Columbia City saw Carroll hit three three-pointers to hold a 37-32 by the quarter’s end.
   The last came on a desperation heave from just inside half court. The Lady Chargers leading scorer Ciara Geiger threw up a shot that banked in. Geiger scored nine of her game-high 15 points from behind the arc.
   Columbia City was able to tie the game twice in the fourth quarter. The Lady Eagles held the lead 44-42 with a three-point play in the lane by Dunn.
   Leading 46-45, the Eagles ultimately send Carroll to the line too much.
   The Chargers went 26-for-34 from the foul line including 7-for-8 in the final two minutes of play.
   “Defensively, we got caught too many times reaching and fouling,” Shearer stated. “If we keep them off the free throw line, we win easy.”
   Columbia City’s last points came at the 2:46 mark on two free throws by Raypole.
   The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Lady Eagles. The NHC schedule doesn’t get any easier for Columbia City with its first conference road trip to class 3A’s No. 1 team Norwell (5-1) Friday.