No. 20 Spartans escape Columbia City 3-2 for NHC title

   COLUMBIA CITY — Each season has been better and each season has been closer in the pursuit of a title.
   Thursday, one match decided the Northeast Hoosier Conference for boys’ tennis. Finishing second for the past two seasons, Columbia City (14-4, 5-2 in the NHC) has always been in contention for the    Northeast Hoosier Conference’s top spot but unable to clear the final obstacle in long time powerhouse No. 20 Homestead.
   The help of two undefeated conference positions put the Eagles the closest they’ve ever been to one. However, the Spartans held on for yet another season 3-2.
   “This was the closest match in CC history with Homestead,” Columbia City head coach Doug Stoffel said. “It was an exciting match to watch with the outcome undecided until the last match came off the court.”
   Despite the loss, Columbia City proved the gap between the Eagles and the top teams in the NHC is much smaller now. 
   “We have bridged the gap between our two programs and everyone plays a part in that,” Stoffel noted. “Certainly the guys will keep their heads high knowing how close it was.”
   City came off state ranked competition Wednesday where the No. 8 Canterbury Cavaliers swept the Eagles 5-0.
   It’s second sectional opponent in as many nights, Columbia City took on the Spartans for a share of the conference title.
   The Eagles had reason to believe this season was their chance at that with two positions undefeated in conference play.
   No. 3 singles Derek Hinen came off his first loss of the season against Canterbury to finish 7-0 in the NHC after beating Michael Thompson of Homestead 6-4, 6-2.
   Also suffering their first loss Wednesday, City’s No. 1 doubles duo of Alan Murphy and J.T. Biggs rallied back to beat the Spartans top team in Zach Vessels and David Libbing 6-2, 7-6.
   All five matches were decided in two sets.
   Homestead took the top two singles matches. Spartan Connor Andrews was able to beat CC’s Dylan Hinen in straight sets 6-1, 6-3.
   Other scores: No. 2 singles — Austin Overlander (HO) defeated Gabe Boles (CC) 6-2, 6-0; No. 2 doubles — Alex Shin and Tanner Crandall (HO) defeated Travis Johnson and Cole Craven (CC) 6-4, 6-3.