There was a lot of fighting, scratching and crawling, but it could only get Columbian so far. It was just too deep of a whole to climb out of.
Columbian fell behind Ontario by 17 in the third quarter Friday night, but fought all the way back to get within three early in the fourth.
But, the Warriors were able to fight off the rally and hold on to win their inaugural Northern Ohio League girls game, 68-57.
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Columbian’s Mckenzie Zimmerman shoots over Ontario’s Jayde Niss Friday in Tiffin.
"I thought both teams played hard. Everyone battled for 32 minutes," Ontario coach Sue Homan said. "It was our first game in the NOL, it was a great game. We battled, we weathered Tiffin's run they made at us. I'm really proud of our girls how they battled through that."
Columbian fell to 0-7 with the loss, but coach Katie Fazekas said she sees the improvement in her team, although it needs to play more consistently.
"I thought we had moments that we looked the best we've looked this season. Now we just got to extend those moments," she said. "I thought this was one we let get away. Kids fought, they're going to keep fighting, (we need to) put spurts into quarters and then turn quarters into halves. Consistency is the last thing to come, right now we're struggling with it. I think we're seeing improvement; we just need to see more sustainable improvement."
Some of the better moments she referred to came on the offensive end of the floor in the first quarter when the Tornadoes shot 9 of 13. Valesha Province scored 13 of her 21 points in the opening frame, although her team trailed Ontario 24-22.
"That was a good quarter. Twenty-some points in the first quarter. That's nice. There are games we don't score that until the third quarter," Fazekas said. "Like I said, it's in spurts. We're seeing it. We just need to find a way to sustain it."
The second quarter wasn't as kind.
The defense improved but the offense went cold. Province knocked down a 3-pointer, but that was the only shot Columbian connected on in 16 attempts from the field.
"We struggled from the floor, struggled in the paint," Fazekas said. "We're missing little things. Once those little things start to fall, I think we'll see better results. We just need to put a complete game together."
Jayde Niss and Mackenna Papst did all of Ontario's scoring in the period, but their combined 11 points were enough to stretch the lead to 35-27 at half.
Laura Heminger hit a pair of baskets for Columbian to start the third quarter as the Tornadoes kept pace with the Warriors early, but a 9-0 run escalated Ontario's lead to a 17-point advantage at 48-31.
After that, though, Columbian began to mount its rally. Chelsea Hutchins hit a pair of baskets and the team hit on 5 of 6 shots from the foul line to cut the lead to seven by the end of the period.
A basket by Sidney Baker and two Mckenzie Zimmerman foul shots got Columbian within three early in the fourth but Niss took over the final period.
A pair of driving layups helped increase the lead back to nine. Ontario iced the game with foul shooting down the stretch.
"Jayde is a competitor," Homan said. "She's our senior leader, her and Mackenna Papst. She did a great job and a nice job from the foul line when we needed it."
Niss led Ontario with 21 points and Papst added 19.
Province led Columbian with her 21 points and nine rebounds. Baker and Hutchins each scored nine and Heminger finished with eight.
"The balance is better," Fazekas said. "Chelsea stepped up hit a couple nice shots for us. Sidney is starting to show herself as a scoring threat. That's good. The more options we have, the more weapons we have, that'll make us harder to guard. Offensively, I thought we were OK offensively for what we've been putting up. Defensively, we didn't lock down. We need to do a better job on the defensive end."