Cold outside, cold inside

There are a few places this time of year, where you don’t want to see the number eight.

One would be on a thermometer. Another would be on your side of the scoreboard at halftime of a basketball game.

Unfortunately for Columbian, the number eight could be seen both places Tuesday night.

With Alaskan-like temperatures outside the gym, things were just as cold in the first half for the Tornadoes. They shot 15 percent (3 of 19) over the first 16 minutes falling behind Marion Harding 35-8.

Columbian tried to turn things around in the second half but it was too little, too late, as the Harding left town with a 57-33 victory.

“I was proud of them, that they finished up in the second half,” Columbian coach Katie Fazekas said. “I thought we fought well; I think we won the second half. Slow start again. I’ll take that. That’s on a coach when a team has a slow start. I’ll take the fault for the slow start. I don’t know. We’re going to go back to the drawing board, try to figure out something to get a better first half.”

Columbian (6-9) actually struck first on a basket by Michaela Miller two minutes into the contest. But that was the last bucket Columbian scored in the first quarter as the Presidents tallied 13 straight points, including a trio of 3-point shots from Fallyn Stephens.

“We shot the ball well,” Harding coach Evan Geyer said. “They came out in a zone … we had to get (Stephens) going. She’s only a freshman, but she’s our best shooter. She got going, Ashlee Davis came out and hit some shots. When you hit shots, they got to come out of their defense.”

After shooting 1 for 10 in the first quarter, Columbian appeared as if it was going to heat up after Jocelyn Cole knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to get within 15-8. But things stayed frigid for Columbian the rest of the half as Harding scored 20 unanswered.

At the half, Columbian had only three made shots, and missed on all four of its attempts from the foul line.

Loren Bollinger led Harding’s charge, scoring nine of her game-high 19 in the second quarter, including going 7 for 7 from the foul line.

Geyer said he was pleased with the effort his team put forth on the defensive end. Especially since it’s been a weak spot for the Presidents this season.

“We did a good job. We always try to mix it up cause we’re not very good defensively so far,” he said. “We knew we had to mix it up. We thought we could man them a little bit. A lot of teams we’ve played this season have been so much bigger than us and this is a team we have the same amount as size as. We knew we had to switch up … and whatever we do, make sure we play hard.”

Despite being in a big hole, Columbian came out fighting in the second half. The Tornadoes matched their first half output of points 3:24 into the third quarter. They scored the first nine of the half and seemed to gather some momentum.

“The kids fought. It’s an easy game to give up after halftime,” Fazekas said. “I asked them at halftime to come out and have more pride than that in the program and they did. They fought. They won the second half and you got to give the kids credit for that.”

Any hopes of a miracle comeback were soon dashed by Bollinger, though, who ended Columbian’s run with an And-1 play to turn things back in her team’s favor.

“Anytime we need a bucket, we want the ball in her hands,” Geyer said. “She’s going to do one of two things: create a shot for herself or create a shot for a teammate. She’s played well her senior year. She knows how to play and we just like having the ball in her hands.”

Three Presidents hit double figures led by Bollinger’s 19. Stephens finished with 15 and Davis 11 as they improved to 4-13.

Cole finished with 17 to lead Columbian.