Just because late starts to the basketball season have become standard procedure at Columbian, that doesn't mean the process has become easier.
But clearly, the Tornadoes are getting better at it.
Columbian got its first real basketball action Saturday at home against Fostoria, and if there was any extra anxiety, it wasn't evident. The Tornadoes rushed to a 22-4 first-quarter lead and maintained a double-figure distance the rest of the way in posting a 63-40 win.
Columbian’s Derek?Dryfuse shoots over Kagen Brown (11) and Rayshon Martin of Fostoria?Saturday in?Tiffin.
"We've got it down to a science, I think," Tornado coach Bill Beaston said with a smile after his club's first win sent the Redmen to their third straight defeat. "It's awesome. I'm really proud of (TC football) success."
It didn't take long for Columbian basketball to enjoy success as well Saturday.
After Fostoria's Kaleb Bemis opened the scoring, the Tornadoes ran off nine straight points in a little more than a minute's time. Bemis hit another and that was answered with a 13-point run.
Columbian did it with a major inside presence early as 6-foot-6 starters Cody Daniel and Derek Dryfuse combined for 13 first-quarter points and Isiah Moore came off the bench to power for a couple more baskets.
"We had a great start to the game and I thought what really set the tone for us was our pressure," Beaston said.
The Tornadoes had a 14-7 rebounding edge in the first period in addition to getting seven turnovers from the youthful Redmen.
"You can't spot a team an 18-point lead in the first quarter and expect to come back," Fostoria coach Rick Renz said. "Very rarely do you see a team come back from something like that. I don't care if it's Findlay. I don't care if it's Liberty-Benton. If you spot a team an 18-point lead, it's going to be awfully tough to get back into it the game."
Down by 15 at 32-17 at the half, the Redmen did manage to draw within 10. Bemis, who led Fostoria with 12 points, hit a couple baskets as did Rayshon Martin. And when Kagen Brown hit a 3-pointer, it capped a 13-8 second-half start that trimmed the margin to 40-30 with 2:12 to go in the third period.
But Matt Zirger hit a couple foul shots and Daniel added an inside hoop as the Tornadoes regained control.
"Our goal in the third quarter was to get it under 10," Renz said. "We got it to 10 and had the game in reach. But every time we got it down to 10 or 11 points, they pumped the lead back up to 15 or 17. They just made it hard for us to get any consistent comeback going."
Dryfuse had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Daniel added 17 points and eight boards for Columbian. Josh Flint added 11 points.
"It's never easy. You never get those (lost) practice times back," Beaston said of the delayed opening to his season. "In the past, I think we've rushed to get things in for the first game and maybe didn't pay as much attention to detail as we should have.
"We started well and I think we finished well," he said. "In between, there were some head-scratchers that we need to deal with. We needed this. We hadn't scrimmaged in 10 days. We needed to play another team and get some stuff on film so we can see where we need to improve."
One such adjustment might be a little more balance to the offense.
"We did a nice job getting the ball inside, but there were times when we forced it a little," Beaston said. "I think that as we get better at reversing the floor two or three times in the offense, the guys are going to find there are more things open than just stuff in the post. There will be lots of shots available for everyone."
The next opportunity won't be until Dec. 20 in the Northern Ohio League opener at Shelby. That delay is the result of another successful football run.
"We were supposed to play Kenton next Saturday, but they wanted to postpone because of their long run in the playoffs," Beaston said. "We'll just watch film and fix the things we see from that and go from there."