Columbian’s offense sputters in season-opening loss to Eagles

Scoreless stretch in first half allows Clay to take control

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Columbian’s Tyrin Smith (right) applies pressure to Oregon Clay’s Jacob Novak Friday in Tiffin.

In a preseason interview, Columbian coach Travis Kinn said he had a team of streaky shooters.

Some nights, the attempts will go in.

Other times, like in Friday’s season opener with Oregon Clay, it’s a struggle.

The Tornadoes managed just 20 points through the first three quarters, and fell to the Eagles, 56-38, in Tiffin.

Columbian’s problems started late in the first quarter. Jakob Amory split a pair of free throws to give the Tornadoes a 10-9 lead with 2:23 to go.

Columbian didn’t score again until a stickback by Tyrin Smith with 1:59 left in the half.

The 8:24 of scoreless basketball proved too much for the Tornadoes to overcome. By the time of Smith’s basket, the Eagles had run off 15 straight points, and led 26-12. They went to the half up 26-14.

“We just couldn’t hit shots there at the end of the first and the start of the second,” Kinn said, “which kind of took us out of some things defensively. I thought we did not rebound the ball during that time, either.”

The offensive woes continued into the second half.

The Eagles started the third quarter with the ball, and missed six straight shots.

Problem was, they kept getting offensive rebounds. And the one time during the stretch Columbian did get a rebound, it turned the ball over just after crossing halfcourt.

After five offensive rebounds, the Eagles finally scored. Walker Bliss converted a layup after 1:53 of scoreless play. But the basket seemed to get Oregon Clay going on both ends.

“We’re undersized; in our league, we’re a very small team,” said Oregon Clay coach Dave Rodriguez, who coached his first varsity game Friday. “When you go against 6-8, 6-7, 6-8 every night, we have to find another way to create offense and create tempo. And we have to play fast.”

And they hustled. And as the second half wore on, they built their lead. The Eagles went up 40-20 after three, and pushed their advantage to as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter. Playing with reserves, the Tornadoes were able to make the game closer by its conclusion.

Still, Kinn said the Tornadoes’ defense wasn’t bad.

“One of our goals is to hold teams under 52 (points),” Kinn said. “I thought we did a pretty good job defensively for the most part tonight, minus the defensive rebounding. We’ve just got to find a way to put the ball in the hoop, and I think once we start to understand our offense, and understand our role a little bit better, and we start to move the ball a little bit more, I think the offense will come.”

For the Eagles, Trey Reddick had a team-best 11 points, while Reese Warner had 10. Palmer Yenrick and Bliss had eight points each. Bliss had a game-high 10 rebounds.

Columbian was led by Riley Sendelbach, who put up a game-best 15 points off the bench. Braden Brown had seven points.

Columbian will be back tonight, when it hosts Upper Sandusky. The junior varsity game is to start at 5 p.m., with the varsity game to follow.

“We need to to see that constant effort, that heart, that ability to rebound the ball,” Kinn said. “We gotta get our offense going and make some shots. Upper’s a a really good team, a traditional powerhouse. It’s not going to be an easy game, but if we come out and play like we’re capable of, we can definitely compete with them.”