FINDLAY - Derek Dryfuse was on his game Saturday night, and the sophomore's play helped Columbian overcome numerous hurdles in a 76-61 win over Toledo Waite at the Findlay Holiday Tournament.
Dryfuse had 22 points and 12 rebounds, one of four Tornadoes to score in double digits. His performance, combined with strong efforts from Connor Conley (13 points), Bryce Lonsway (11 points) and Cody Daniel (10 points) helped offset two major issues:
n As the Tornadoes have many times this season, they started slowly, spotting the Indians a 9-2 lead before outscoring them 27-11 the rest of the half.
n While Toledo Waite is winless (0-10) and struggled on offense for much of the evening, it caught fire from 3-point range late in the game. Taywyn Mason led the barrage, making six trifectas overall and finishing with 20 points. Lavarr Robinson and Chandler Hill each had four 3's, and Waite made 15.
Despite those issues, it was a much-needed win for Columbian coach Bill Beaston and his program, which improved to 2-5.
"Anytime you get a positive going into New Year's, it's huge," Beaston said. "We definitely have one. The kids now understand what it feels like. It's hunger. It's reward for their hard work."
No one worked harder Saturday night than Dryfuse, who always seemed to be there when the ball caromed off the rim.
"I haven't been rebounding too good, so I tried to get better at that, box out." Dryfuse said.
"He dominated the glass, that was huge for us," Beaston said. "I don't know how many defensive rebounds he had, but it had to be a bunch. He dominated, and that allows us to run our transition game. Derek's growing up a lot in a hurry. We forget sometimes he's only a sophomore, but when he needs to be a scorer, when he needs to assert himself ... he can play."
Columbian led 14-12 after the first quarter, then gradually extended its advantage in the second quarter. Lonsway's driving layup just before the second-quarter buzzer gave the Tornadoes a 29-20 lead at the break. From there, TC pretty much turned the game into a rout, leading by 18 after three quarters and pushing its advantage to 53-34 after a Conley 3 with 6:34 left in regulation.
"We really needed this game," Conley said. "I feel like as a team, we were really clicking offensively and defensively."
Just about everyone got involved for the Tornadoes. Donovan Walker started and scored eight points, while Ryan Lynch added six.
"We shared the ball well tonight," Beaston said. "Guys attacked the rim and created for others, and there was lots of rewards for that."
As for the Indians, 3-point shooting? They made seven in the fourth quarter alone, eventually cutting the Tornadoes lead to 57-46 with 49 left in the game. But Columbian was able to halt the rally.
"We were content with letting them shoot from the outside," Beaston said. "The book has them for 15 (3's). They were just on. The fact that a team can make 15 3's, and us still win by 15 points, that says a lot about our defense - what we did with the rest of the possessions."