Fourth-quarter spurt lifts City over Bellmont

   COLUMBIA CITY — Preservation is what Columbia City girls’ basketball did Saturday night in a Northeast Hoosier Conference home game.
   With one of its top scorers out due to injury, the Lady Eagles (9-5, 1-3 NHC) fought through first-half struggles to overcome Bellmont (6-7, 1-3 NHC) in the fourth quarter and grab their first conference win, 48-38.
   “The first half was rough trying to find our rhythm without Kayla Dunn in the lineup,” Columbia City head coach Amy Shearer. “But the kids persevered and found a way to get the job done. I’m proud of them.”
   Despite managing small leads, Columbia City didn’t hold a lead at the end of any of the first three quarters.
   The Lady Eagles struggled to find a rhythm but held it together enough to trail 13-12 after one quarter of play.
   Senior Sierria Burlage put up six of her 11 points for the game in the first half allowing Columbia City to stay close.
   An even 9-9 second quarter of scoring took the game to halftime with Bellmont still leading by one point 22-21.
   Each team was limited to just three field goals in the third quarter with the lowest scoring for either team keeping the game deadlocked in a one-point Bellmont lead 30-29.
   Columbia City forward Corinna Raypole began to show signs of life for the Columbia City offense.
   The senior hit two baskets in the third quarter and helped take the Lady Eagles through a offensive frenzy in the fourth.
   Raypole scored seven points in the final period posting a game-high 15 points.
   Columbia City outscored Bellmont 19-8 in the fourth quarter hitting 9-of-12 free throws.
   “We really picked up our intensity the fourth quarter, got some key deflections and steals from our guards Maddie Hinen, Sarah Opliger and Sid Bunyan,” Shearer said.
   Hinen, Opliger and Bunyan combined to scored 20 points in the win. Bunyan led the trio with nine points.