Columbian falls to Port Clinton

Columbian has faced a grinder of a schedule thus far.

So when they traveled to the Supreme Court at Port Clinton on Saturday, the Tornadoes knew there was an opportunity.

Unfortunately, 17 turnovers and no free throw attempts in the first three quarters spelled doom, as Port Clinton picked up the 55-50 non-league win.

“We have to play with more focus,” Columbian coach Travis Kinn said. “We have to be ready to play from the start and that falls on us as a coaching staff on getting our kids ready to play.”

The Tornadoes (3-16) never led after the first quarter. Seven turnovers in the first quarter hurt any offensive momentum that Columbian was trying to build.

“The turnovers in the first quarter were a lack of focus,” Kinn said. “A lot of them were not due to anything Port Clinton was doing. It was just us making silly, mental mistakes. We had a lot of them in that first quarter, which limited our scoring, which limited our energy. That carried over to the defensive end.”

Sammy Diaz’s second 3-pointer of the opening eight minutes gave Port Clinton a 7-6 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Cooper Stine scored to increase the lead, but Todd Simonds’ triple knotted the game at 11-all.

Diaz hit another 3 before Tyrin Smith scored on a putback. Dylan Simpson then scored both of his buckets of the game off offensive rebounds to push the Redskins ahead 18-13 at halftime.

“We definitely thought we would give ourselves a chance to compete,” Kinn said. “I think tonight is proof on how big the mental aspect of the game is. If we are engaged at the start, it is an entirely different feel in the first quarter, which leads to an entirely different game.”

The Tornadoes started the second half the way they started the first half — by scoring the first two buckets. This time it was LJ Reaves and Donnell Brockington drawing Columbian within a point, but the Redskins responded quickly. Hunter Nolen drilled a 3 and Max Rumbarger completed a three-point play just 19 seconds apart for a 24-17 lead.

The lead was pushed further later when Diaz and Max Brenner scored on consecutive possessions. Riley Sendelbach’s jumper with 50 seconds left in the third quarter got the Tornadoes to within 36-27.

After Rumbarger drilled a 3 in the fourth quarter, Columbian had one more push in it. Simonds split two free throws before scores from Sendelbach and Reaves. The Redskins had multiple empty possessions, but Columbian could not cash in and get any closer than seven points.

The fourth quarter became a free throw battle. After not attempting any free throws in the first three quarters, the Tornadoes made 11 of 16 in the final 7:09. Port Clinton, meanwhile, made 14 of 20 free throws in the final quarter.

“Not shooting any free throws for three-plus quarters is a concern,” Kinn said. “We certainly have not shot free throws on a consistent basis in our games. When we get to the line, we put ourselves in a position to win. We do not shoot the ball well enough consistently to rely on that.”

The Tornadoes were playing their fourth game in eight nights and third in five nights.

“There is always concern with playing a lot of games in a few amount of days,” Kinn said. “We scaled practices back a bit to get to keep guys off of their feet. That is something you deal with in February. That is no excuse at all for us.”

Brockington paced Columbian with 14 points and nine rebounds while Simonds added 13 points and six rebounds. Sendelbach finished with 10 points.

“Our kids were not ready to play tonight from the start,” Kinn said. “Port Clinton was ready and that was the difference. We dug ourselves a hole early again and it ended up being the difference in the game.”

Diaz scored 11 points to lead the Redskins, who made just 7 of 28 3-pointers. Columbian held a 39-33 rebounding edge.

“We identified a couple of guys who shot the ball well for them throughout the course of the season,” Kinn said. “I think we lost our guys a couple of times.”