By Chris Yow
COLUMBIA — Tanner Ham drained seven 3-pointers, including a pair of buzzer-beaters in the first half, and finished with a game-high 32 points Monday night to help Columbia Academy cruise to a 77-31 win over visiting Athens Bible (Ala.).
“Tanner’s a great kid to coach because he’s all about the team,” CA coach Marty DeJarnette said.
Ham didn’t need much help, as he outscored the Trojans by himself.
Columbia Academy poured in 24 points before Athens Bible could even get on the scoreboard on Monday night. The Trojans then went on a 13-2 run to cut the lead in half at 26-13 before the Bulldogs pulled away with a 14-0 run, sparked by Ham’s first horn-beater.
“Setting the tempo early is going to be key for us this year. We have some kids who can shoot it,” DeJarnette said. “We want to get the pace up, and tonight I thought we did.”
That early Trojans’ run was a moment when DeJarnette knew he’d need to calm some of his players down. Once the first group returned to the floor and the second group settled in, the rout was on.
Defensively, CA was stifling throughout, holding their guests to single digits in all but the first quarter.
“We’ve talked to them all year about letting the defense fuel the offense, and it was a good start for us,” he added. “We knew they had some kids who could score if we gave them space, but we got the first group back in and let the second group settle in, it flowed better.
“It was disappointing to let them score that many there, but I like the way our guys responded.”
Ham was the only Bulldog in double figures, but every player who suited up got in the scorebook. Getting those young players some experience will be a big help down the road. Getting his starters some rest on Monday in a week where his team will play four times is also a big help.
“It only gets harder from here,” DeJarnette said. “A game like this helps us keep some fresh legs for tomorrow.”
Pressure helps Lady Dawgs pull away: After a slow-moving first quarter, Columbia Academy coach Stephen Fields wanted the intensity to pick up. In order to do that, he shifted his defense into a half-court trap. That adjustment was the key in a dominating second quarter that lifted the Lady Bulldogs to a 77-20 win over Athens Bible.
“I felt like we needed to play faster and with more intensity on defense,” Fields said. “They were playing a lot of half court offense, so I thought the half court trap would help us speed the game up to the tempo we like.”
Six players scored in the second period, but Madi Lewis knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and finished a four-point play with a free throw to lead the way. She finished with a game-high 18 points.
“We shot the ball a lot better tonight than we have in the first two games,” Fields said. “But we have to fix some little things if we want to compete in the rest of our games this week.”
The Lady Bulldogs shot just 67 percent from the charity stripe and committed several turnovers, whether by losing ball control or traveling violations.
“Some of the mistakes we made tonight are lazy, mental mistakes. We need to clean that up,” Fields said.
Next Up: Columbia Academy is scheduled to travel on Tuesday to Fayetteville for a doubleheader before returning home to host Providence Christian in Division II-A District 3 play on Thursday and traveling Friday to league rival Webb-Bell Buckle.
Columbia Acad. girls 77, Athens Bible (Ala.) 20
AB 6 5 7 2 — 20
CA 15 25 22 15 — 77
Athens Bible (20) — Peyton Rogers 2, Molly Chumbley 10, Brooke Blakely 3, Breelyn Phillips 5
Columbia Acad. (77) — Abby Ballard 10, Jaelyn Hickerson 6, Averi Slaughter 13, Isabelle Dees 5, Hallie Butterfield 2, Madi Lewis 18, Ally Ballard 12, Ella Fuller 2, Karli Quillin 9
3-pointers — Athens Bible 1 (Chumbley), Columbia Acad. 5 (Hickerson, Slaughter, Lewis 2, Al. Ballard)
Columbia Academy (boys) 77, Athens Bible 31
AB 13 8 9 1 — 31
CA 29 32 13 3 — 77
Athens Bible (31) — Cody Graviett 1, Kacen Pierce 11, Lane Glover 1, Brayden Suggs 8, Walker Brand 3, Rhett Wilson 4, Eli Hicbert 1, Connor Abernathy 2
Columbia Acad. (77) — Tanner Ham 32, Chase Duncan 5, Hayden Morgan 1, Drew Butt 9, Will Jackson 9, Ryan Bernath 3, Collins Malone 4, Andre McClellan 3, Griffin Cooper 4, Gavin Morgan 2, Bennett Thomason 3, Nick Brown 2
3-pointers — Athens Bible 3 (Suggs 2, Brand), Columbia Acad. 11 (Ham 7, Jackson 3, Duncan)
All photos by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports