Early lead gets City 15th win

   GARRETT — When you have a ball game between two more offensively deliberate and patient teams, if one builds an early advantage it becomes extremely difficult for the other to make up the deficit.
   That was the case Friday night as the Columbia City Eagles boys’ basketball team took a commanding 18-point lead at halftime and despite a difficult third quarter were still able to garner a 48-31 win.
   The Eagles jumped out to an early 6-0 lead behind two straight three-pointers by sophomore guard Drew Benedict.
   An inside basket by center Tyler Mosher and free throws by Ben Murphy and Matt Rethlake pushed the Columbia City lead to 10-3 at the end of the first quarter.
   Columbia City put the host Railroaders in a deep hole in the second quarter, outscoring Garrett 19-8.
   The Eagles balanced perimeter game put up good numbers in the quarter with junior Brandon Gay hitting a basket and a three-pointer from the top of the key for five points.
   Benedict added another three pointer and Rethlake got loose for two baskets in the quarter to help stake the Eagles to a 29-11 lead at the half.
   With an opportunity to put the game out of reach in the third quarter, the Eagle offense went flat.
   “We didn’t get very good ball movement,” Columbia City head coach Chris Benedict said. “When we don’t get good ball movement it’s tough for us to make shots.” “We have to get into situations where we  create things so that the defense has to put two men on the ball and then move the ball to get an open   look for our guys.”  
   Columbia City got a single field goal in the quarter on a basket by sophomore Daniel Woll. Columbia City got two free throws from Ben Murphy to account for all their scoring in the period. The Railroaders chipped away at the Eagle lead outscoring Columbia City 9-4 in the quarter.
   “We didn’t do a very good job of getting the ball into the paint in the third quarter and missed some easy shots inside.
   The Railroaders closed to within 11 at 28-39 early in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as they got as two Rethlake free throws, and another basket by Gay pushed the Eagle lead back to 45-28.
   Columbia City guard Jared Murphy and Garrett’s Andrew Johnson traded three-pointers in the final seconds to account for the final 48-31 score.
   “Having lost their leading scorer, (sophomore guard Drake Landes) its kind of tough for them to create offense from the floor,” Benedict said in commenting on the Eagles early lead and the difficulty of the Railroaders in playing catch up.
   Benedict led the Eagles in scoring with 12 points, all coming from behind the three-point line. Rethlake added 10 points and Brandon Gay seven for the winners, while guard Brandon Porter had 13 to lead the Railroaders.
   The Eagles notched eight baskets from beyond the arc in the contest compared to four for the Railroaders.
   “All in all our guys are 15-5 on the regular season and I am proud of the way they battled throughout the year,” Benedict said. “But now its an entirely different story, heading into sectional everybody is 0-0.
   “We are going to have our work cut out for us. We are going to face one of two really good teams. One of them is going to be 15-5 the other one is going to be 14-6. We are going to have to be really ready to play .”
   The Columbia City JV turned a 13-2 first quarter lead into a 45-32 win over the Garrett reserves.
   The JV Eagles led 27-15 at the half and 38-24 at the end of the third quarter on their way to the win. Greg Bockelman led all scorers with 13 points, with Jordan Bickle and Jacob Johnson tossing in seven points apiece in support. Tristan Wright added five points for the Eagles.