By Maurice Patton
COLUMBIA – Missing players is nothing new for area basketball teams these days.
And while Columbia Central junior guard Omari Franklin was sidelined Monday night by a hip flexor issue – not COVID concerns – as the Lions took on visiting Fayetteville, it was nevertheless a factor in an eventual 65-53 victory.
“It changed our rotation,” coach Nick Campbell said regarding Franklin’s absence. “We’ve just got to be flexible (and) go play.”
Though it took some time, Central’s athleticism and depth – combined with eight 3-pointers – eventually wore on Fayetteville. One of the better Class A teams in the area, the Tigers battled early and let 20-18 midway through the second quarter before the Lions went on a 13-2 spurt before halftime.
“They made some shots,” Campbell said regarding Fayetteville, which fell to 3-6 with its second loss in four games against Maury County foes. “When they make shots, they’re going to be tough.
“We had 11 turnovers in the first half. If we didn’t have that, it would have been more than (an eight-point lead). I didn’t think we closed as well as we could have.”
The Tigers cut a 31-22 deficit inside the final minute to 33-28 at the break on a pair of Marquese Nance 3s, but Central scored the first 11 points of the third period and led comfortably the rest of the way.
“Our transition defense – if we could have cleaned that up,” Fayetteville coach Chris Murdock said. “They got some easy baskets in transition. We played in spurts.
“It’s a good game for us, to see that speed all over the court. It’s a good learning experience. If we can run our stuff against Columbia, we’re not going to see that speed and athleticism in district play.”
Central improved to 7-0 with the win, as Cam Johnson and Q Martin scored 17 points each. Brayden Hockett finished with 17 points and Nance 15 for Fayetteville.
Lady Lions score in bunches: Josie Parks notched a game-high 23 points, one of three Central players to reach double digits in a 51-40 victory.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we went in there and got a win,” Parks said. “Our transition offense is a big part of our game. We’re smaller (than opponents), but faster, and we’re able to move the ball. We have to be better in slower, calmed-down settings. But we’re going to get there.”
Most of Columbia Central’s field goals came on layups, particularly in the opening half, as the Lady Lions were effective running their break but less so in the halfcourt. Meanwhile, Arkansas-Little Rock signee Zanaria Robinson kept the visitors (5-4) in the contest and helped them to a 23-22 halftime lead.
Trailing 36-33 inside the final two minutes of the third quarter, Parks hit back-to-back baskets to end the period with a 37-36 cushion, then sparked an 8-0 run to open the fourth and conclusively switch the momentum.
Besides Parks, Janiyha Riley and Saviya Morgan each finished with 10 points. A total of four players scored for Columbia Central, which played without junior guard Karma Hunt (knee).
“That’s a concern. But at the same time, we’re glad to get the win,” Parks said after the Lady Lions improved to 7-2.
Robinson scored 23 for Fayetteville.
Next up: Central faces visiting Marshall County in a Tuesday doubleheader, before the Lady Lions host the B4 Christmas Classic this weekend while the boys travel for the Riverdale Classic in Murfreesboro.
“This will be the second time we get them on the second night (of consecutive games),” Campbell said. “But we’re glad we’ve got the games with everything that’s going on.
“It’ll build toughness.”
Columbia Central boys 65, Fayetteville 53
F 11 17 10 15 – 53
C 12 21 13 19 – 65
Fayetteville (53) – Brayden Hockett 17, Marquese Nance 15, Tyeus Layne 4, Isaiah Thomison 8, Bryson Casey 3, K.J. Jackson 2, Corian Cash 4
Columbia Central (65) – Cam Johnson 17, Carter Szydlowski 6, Demetrius McCoy 4, Q Martin 17, Bubba Perkins 7, Roni Bailey 5, Quandrees Peete 3, Jordan Davis 6
3-pointers – Fayetteville 7 (Hockett 3, Nance 3, Casey), Columbia Central 8 (Johnson 5, Martin, Perkins, Bailey)
Columbia Central girls 51, Fayetteville 40
F 11 12 13 4 – 40
C 16 6 15 14 – 51
Fayetteville (40) — Elexis Humphrey 3, Amaria Thompson 2, Shaneka Nance 6, Zanaria Robinson 23, Hannah Litaker 6
Columbia Central (51) – Saviya Morgan 10, Ryleigh Hamm 8, Janiyha Riley 10, Josie Parks 23
3-pointers – Fayetteville 0, Columbia Central 1 (Hamm)