By Aaron Korte
PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE
Columbian's Donovan Walker looks to pass around Upper Sandusky's Seth Frey in Tiffin Wednesday.
Certainly Columbian High School is a far cry from Lambeau Field, but its boys basketball team may just be developing a reputation for being a cold weather team.
Despite practicing just twice since its loss Thursday against Norwalk, Columbian came out gangbusters against Upper Sandusky, which hadn't played since last Wednesday. The Tornadoes shot the ball well, rebounded well and played solid defense in a 64-50 victory Wednesday.
"This is the second time we gone basically a week with no practice and to come out and play pretty well again like we did the last time," Columbian coach Bill Beaston said. "I like our kids where they're at mentally to be able to do that, because it's hard."
That result given the lack of practice may be a good thing for the Columbian because due to all the rescheduled games in the coming weeks, practice is going to be a luxury, not a necessity.
"I'm really happy with the effort, but we're going to be running the NBA schedule the rest of the season," Beaston joked. "It's a day off and then we're back at it on Friday."
With its core varsity players not measuring taller than 6-2, Upper Sandusky (7-8) found itself exposed by Columbian's height in the paint, with 6-6 Derek Dryfuse scoring a game-high 19 points, 11 boards and four blocks.
But it just wasn't the post players biting the Rams, but the paint defense in general. Columbian 5-11 guard Josh Flint consistently found his way to the bucket on his way to 16 points.
"I said the biggest key to the game was win the battle of the paint, and we didn't," Upper Sandusky coach Jeff Winslow said. "They outrebounded us and outscored us in the paint by a wide margin. They were more active. They wanted the ball more than we did. They just flat out outplayed us."
The Rams had just one rebound in the first quarter and seven total in the first half. What kept them close was forcing Columbian into 12 turnovers.
"I thought Derek and Isiah (Moore) did a nice job cleaning up on the defensive boards. But we did a nice job on the offensive glass too. Derek had a permanent triple team most of the night and I credit Josh Flint and Donovan (Walker) and Alec (Demith) and all those guys from the guard position to go in and crash and maybe not get the board, but kept it alive and maybe Derek came up with it, and that was real big for us."
A pair of 3-pointers put the Rams in front 6-4 three minutes into the game. But when they weren't turning it over, the Tornadoes (6-7) weren't missing. From that point until midway through the third quarter, Columbian scored on every possession but two that it didn't give the ball back to the Rams. By that point, Columbian led 36-25 and didn't look back.
In fact, it was the first three and half minutes of the second half that took a six-point halftime game, 26-20, and turned dramatically in Columbian's favor.
"I thought the first three minutes of the third quarter were huge," Beaston said. "It was a 6-point game and we extended it to 12 right away. I think that was huge for the game."
Winslow said his team needs to figure some things out after getting outrebounded 38-22 in the game.
"We're having a hard time scoring right now," he said. "We're having a hard time scoring. We don't get any 50-50 balls. I don't know.
"I don't have an answer. We get our hand on it and we can't hold it. We do a lot of standing and watching," Winslow said. "I guess I have to look at our practices and see what we're doing wrong because that's got to be corrected. We just don't get after it and go get it."
Cody Clifford led the Rams with 13 points with freshman Wes Vent chipping in 12.
Walker scored 13 in the victory.