Despite Christmas having come and gone, Columbian coach Larry Kisabeth still was in a festive mood after his girls' game against Lexington.
And he should be as the Tornadoes dismissed Lexington, 44-30, in a non-league game to remain undefeated and boost their record to 8-0 overall.
"We tried to set it up as a tournament atmosphere because they play in a really tough conference," Kisabeth said. "We knew they were young, and we knew they were struggling. But we also knew in all their games they've had great runs but then the inconsistency from their youth comes in. I didn't think we did a good job today offensively, but I thought once again, our defense was the key.
"We've been preaching to our kids that if you're going to win championships, you have to play defense. Today we played great defense. We bent a little bit but didn't break, and I was pleased with that."
Megan Miller started the Tornadoes off right with a strong first quarter. A bucket, free throw and 3-pointer put Columbian up 9-2 with 5:20 left. The Minutemen (0-8) fought back and tied the game but Miller drained another 3-pointer to put TC up 15-12 after one quarter, despite making just 5-of-15 shots.
"We knew that they were experienced," said Lexington assistant coach Ken Kreis, speaking on behalf of head coach Dan Trease. "With our inexperience, we were hoping to be competitive and really we were. Our defense has been something we have been working on, and to limit them to 44 points was a plus for us. As a coaching staff, we were pleased with our girls' effort."
Rachel Reamer put in a 3-pointer for an 18-12 lead, but Lexington's 5-foot-10 freshman Alissa Munro responded with a jumper of her own. But then for the Minutemen, it was miss, miss, miss and more misses. Buckets by Cassie Shuff, Chris Tiell and Jill Stein put the Tornadoes up 24-14 after one half.
Stein grabbed one of seven offensive rebounds and laid it back in, and Tiell added another two points for a 28-14 lead. Munro broke a 10:36 scoring drought for the Minutemen with a jumper.
"That's inexperience for you," Kreis said. "We're starting three freshman, and only one senior. That's nothing but inexperience."
Jaclyn Rourke added another bucket, but Miller added another nail in the heart of Lexington with a 3-pointer to put the Tornadoes up 31-18 but she didn't stop there. Two more 3's by Miller to put TC up 39-21 after three quarter.
Columbian grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to seven for the Minutemen.
"That's great," said Kisabeth about the 14 offensive rebounds. "We had trouble putting the ball in the basket after the offensive rebounds. That's the next step. That's one of the things we said going into the game was we had to control transition. Lexington is very quick and they want to run so to control transition, you have to grab the offensive rebound so that they can't run.
"Then, we thought it was very important on the defensive end to give them one shot and done. If we're holding them to only seven second shots in the ball game, I'm pleased with that."
Lexington never stopped playing hard but couldn't quite muster enough for a fourth-quarter comeback.
Munro, one of three freshman to start for Lexington, led the team with 17 points, five rebounds and three steals. Rourke and Kayla Ferrell also grabbed five rebounds for the Minutemen.
"They have two big post players and they're good," said Kreis of 6-1 Stein and 6-1 Lexi Rohrbach. "They are well-coached and know where to be when the ball goes up. That's one of the things our young kids are learning is to be in the right position to get a defensive rebound."
Miller paced the Tornadoes with 19 points, three rebounds and three steals. She had nine points in the third quarter and 10 points in the third quarter.
"Megan has been very good for us in the first quarter," Kisabeth said. "She tends to set the tone for us. Today she was pretty consistent throughout the game, and we needed it.
"You never know where the offense if going to come from, and Lexington did a great job of double and tripling our posts inside so that put Megan on the perimeter and she knocked them down."
Stein and Rohrbach were a tough tandem inside the whole game. Stein finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Rohrbach had six points and 11 rebounds. Stein also had four steals, and Reamer dished out three assists.