By Maurice Patton
COLUMBIA – Snapping one streak and extending another, Columbia Central took possession of the McDonald’s Shootout trophy Saturday night with a 52-41 girls basketball victory over visiting Maury County rival Spring Hill.
Behind a game-high 16 points from Josie Parks and 15 from Janiyha Riley, the Lady Lions (12-3) won their season-best sixth straight game while ending a two-game slide in their series against Spring Hill (9-4).
“I think they’ve gotten a lot better,” Central coach Joshua Bugg said regarding the Lady Raiders, who had themselves won five in a row prior to Saturday night. “They’ve won some good games, been competitive. They’re undefeated in their district (11-AAA).
“They’re tough to handle. We made them play our style of basketball. They’re one of the bigger teams in the state. We were able to get one of their bigger kids off the floor. We were able to set the pace. That’s something we try to do no matter who we’re playing.”
Central’s up-tempo style helped negate the size advantage Spring Hill typically has with Cole Alderson and the Stedman sisters, Prairie and Sierra. With Alderson picking up her second foul and Sierra Stedman her third midway through the second quarter, the hosts – who seized an early lead behind five first-period 3-pointers – had room to work and ran off six straight points to close the half with a 24-21 lead.
Out of the locker room, the Lady Lions continued with 12 unanswered points and maintained a double-digit cushion the rest of the night.
“Our motto is ‘know what to do, play fast and aggressive’,” Bugg said. “Once we’re able to score, our aggression comes out on the defensive end. We’re able to get into different defenses, pressure defenses.”
Prairie Stedman finished with a team-high 12 points for Spring Hill. Sierra, who went over the 1,000-point mark for her career in Friday’s 58-50 win over Franklin, ended with six points and Alderson with nine.
Since the series between the two programs resumed in 2000, Central now holds a 15-6 lead, although Spring Hill has won four of the last six meetings.
‘Sloppy’ win for Lions: Q Martin scored five of Central’s seven points to end the first quarter, and added a coast-to-coast dunk through traffic in the final five minutes, as the Lions won their eighth straight contest in the Spring Hill series – a 58-33 decision.
Martin’s early spurt helped the hosts to a 13-7 lead, and the margin grew to 34-14 by halftime.
“They’re quick, they’re athletic, they’ve got guys that can shoot the ball. They did a good job,” Raiders coach Jimmy Young said.
“We struggle to score. We had trouble keeping them in front of us, and when we went zone, we had trouble rebounding out of that. They got where they wanted to go.”
Spring Hill played without senior post Jaylen Rucker, who scored 16 points in Tuesday’s District 11-AAA loss at Independence, because of contact tracing. Kai’Seanne Brashear finished with 15 points in Saturday’s defeat – nearly half the team’s total output.
Omari Franklin finished with 14 points for Central, with Martin adding nine as 10 different Lions scored in the victory.
“We could have played better early, but for back-to-back rivalry games, I thought we played well,” Central coach Nick Campbell said, referring to Friday’s 81-63 win over Lawrence County in District 8-AAA play.
“It was a little sloppy, but that’s part of it sometimes. We challenged them to clean some things up rebounding. They’ve done that. With Carter (Szydlowski) back, that frees some guys up to do some other things.”
Central leads the series 17-5.
In light of the pandemic-related attendance restrictions, the scholarship shooting contest that typically takes place at halftime of the boys’ game was not held Saturday.
“Hopefully (it resumes) next year, when all this is over,” Columbia Central athletics director Ray Wilson said.
Next up: Columbia Central’s girls play a District 8-AAA makeup contest Monday against visiting Lincoln County at 5 p.m., followed by league trips Tuesday to Shelbyville and Friday to Coffee County. Spring Hill returns to 11-AAA play Tuesday at Dickson County, then faces back-to-back league meetings with Summit — at home Wednesday, at Summit Friday.
Columbia Central girls 52, Spring Hill 41
S 12 9 3 17 – 41
C 17 7 17 11 – 52
Spring Hill (41) – Cole Alderson 9, Prairie Stedman 12, Belle Brashear 3, Alli Davis 2, Sierra Stedman 6, Jeyce Brashear 5, Keyivary Scales 4
Columbia Central (52) – Saviya Morgan 9, Ryleigh Hamm 7, Janiyha Riley 15, Jenice Bailey 2, Emma Hughes 3, Josie Parks 16
3-pointers – Spring Hill 1 (J. Brashear), Columbia Central 7 (Morgan 2, Hamm 2, Riley, Hughes, Parks)
Columbia Central boys 58, Spring Hill 33
S 7 7 10 9 – 33
C 13 21 15 9 – 58
Spring Hill (33) – Landen Secrest 4, Brytten Georges 9, Quintaveous Simmons 5, Kai’Seanne Brashear 15
Columbia Central (58) – Cam Johnson 7, Carter Szydlowski 3, Demetrius McCoy 5, Q Martin 9, Omari Franklin 14, Bubba Perkins 8, Roni Bailey 1, Quandrees Peete 2, Hadyn Simmons 2, Jordan Davis 7
3-pointers – Spring Hill 5 (Georges 3, Brashear 2), Columbia Central 4 (Johnson 2, Franklin 2)
Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports