KENDALLVILLE — East Noble’s girls basketball team overcame a scoreless second quarter to be within reach of Columbia City throughout much of the fourth quarter. But the Eagles were better down the final stretch to beat the Knights 47-34 in a Northeast 8 Conference game at The Big Blue Pit on Saturday afternoon.
Without leading senior forward Alaina Rongos due to injury, Columbia City (6-6, 2-1 NE8) scored the final eight points of the contest. East Noble (2-10, 1-2) did not have a field goal over the final four minutes.
“We were composed down the final stretch and made good decisions,” Eagles coach Amy Shearer said. “We were aggressive with the basketball, yet we slowed them down to be able to break them down.”
The young Knights are in the process of finding leaders and establishing productive players. They need to be in games in the fourth quarter with a chance to win more and more to better handle those situations.
While Columbia City was driving for layups in crunch time, East Noble would turn the ball over or take shots that were highly-contested and could not convert. Sophomore guard Avan Beiswanger has grown into a key contributor, but was again not available.
“We’ve not been in that situation much before. Our youth situation and lack of depth hurt us. The kids were tired,” Knights coach DeAnn Booth said. “We just need to gain more maturity.”
EN scored the first five points of the game, then it was all Eagles for the rest of the first half. Columbia City led 11-10 after one quarter, then blanked the Knights 11-0 in the second quarter to lead 22-10 at the half.
East Noble got within two at 27-25 late in the third quarter and missed two chances to tie after a blocked shot.
Senior Grace Cotter converted a three-point play to put Columbia City up 30-25 with 24.4 seconds left in the third quarter. Karly Kirkpatrick answered with a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter to get EN back within two.
The Eagles finished the game with a 15-4 run. “We got some easy looks by working the ball and made some free throws,” Shearer said.
However, Shearer thought her Eagles were inconsistent.
“This was definitely not our best game,” she said. “East Noble is always difficult to play, whether we are here or at our place. Playing this game in the afternoon has us out of sync. Historically, we never shoot well here. Defensively, we let them drive on us in the third quarter.”
Junior guard Carly Mabie had 13 points for Columbia City. Shearer said Rongos began to rehab and has done some light shooting, but the coach is unsure of when Rongos will return.
Sophomore guard Kylie Garton had 13 points for East Noble, and classmate Grace Patton added 10.
Freshman Bekah Marshal led the Eagles in rebounds with nine, and Mabie led in assists with five.
“Kylie stepped up greatly,” Booth said. “Grace did a great job hitting jump shots to get them out of their zone.
The Eagles won the junior varsity game 49-18.
Earlier in the week, Columbia City dropped a 59-46 contest at Warsaw, unable to climb out of its 22-14 hole at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles outscored the Tigers 12-10 in the second quarter to make the halftime score 32-26, but Warsaw stayed consistent, outscoring Columbia City 11-10 in the third quarter and 16-10 in the fourth.
Despite the loss, Columbia City came away shooting an impressive 100 percent, 11-for-11, from the free-throw line. The Eagles also beat Warsaw in offensive rebounds, 11-5, and only recorded eight turnovers.
Olivia Shearer was 4-for-9 from behind the arc, leading the team with 18 points. Mabie added 15 points, five of which came from the charity stripe.
Brayden Lickey led the team in rebounds with five, and Marshall led with three assists. Other scorers for Columbia City were Marshall with six, Gabby Fry with four and Grace Schrader with three points.