Last night the Columbia (Lake City) boys basketball team overcame an early 11-0 deficit to win at Buchholz (Gainesville), 56-45.
The host Bobcats (3-8) got off to a good start thanks to the shooting of senior Jhett Hill and sophomore Matthew Willenborg, who each hit two 3s in the opening quarter and scored eight points apiece.
Columbia’s Charleston Ponds finally put the Tigers on the scoreboard with 3:56 to play in the opening quarter to make it 11-2. The senior finished with 14 points.
“I feel fortunate to get the win,” said Columbia coach Steve Faulkner, who last season guided the Tigers to their first final four appearance in over 50 years. “Once again, we struggled with zone, which is kind of our issue right now. Once we were able to score there late in the first quarter and early in the second, we were able to get in the press and make them a little more uncomfortable.”
Junior Marcus Peterson, who had a stellar season in football, came off the bench and gave the Tigers (10-4) a lift by scoring six points in the second quarter. He finished with 10 points.
“He constantly brings us energy any time he’s in the game and I think that’s when it kind of flipped right when he went into the game,” Faulkner said.
Sophomore Tray Tolliver scored nine of his game-high 20 points in the opening quarter to help lead the Tigers claw back.
Columbia trailed 18-17 at the end of the first quarter, but the Tigers outscored Buchholz 13-7 in the second quarter, taking their first lead at 19-18 and rallying for a 30-25 lead at the half.
The Tigers’ relentless pressure helped them to outscore the Bobcats 17-8 in the third quarter in building a 14-point lead, their largest of the game, heading into the final quarter.
Buchholz was led by Hill and Willenborg with 18 and 13 points, respectively.
“I thought we played well,” said Buchholz coach George Atohi. “Hats off to Coach Faulkner. That’s a great team. Forget the rebounding, the athleticism and all that stuff, the way they played at the end, holding the ball, they’re just so disciplined.”
The Bobcats will travel to Mount Dora at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night, while Columbia will host Baker County (Glen St. Mary) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“We obviously have some more work to do to get better offensively, but I do feel fortunate to get out of here with a win,” Faulkner said. “We’ve got to get better against the zone. I need to go back to the drawing board and figure out something better.”
In other local basketball action Tuesday night, Hawthorne beat Newberry 64-54.
The Panthers started strong, leading Hawthorne 18-15 after the first quarter and 36-32 at the half. But the Hornets took the lead early in the fourth quarter and outscored Newberry 20-12 in the final period.
In girls action, the No. 1 Wildwood Wildcats topped the Trenton Lady Tigers, 51-46, in a matchup between two 1A heavyweights. The loss snapped Trenton's six-game winning streak.
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