By Chris Yow
COLUMBIA — With a a top-four seed in the District 8-AAA tournament on the line, Columbia Central’s Lady Lions mounted a 12-point comeback to close their regular season with a 53-47 win over Shelbyville at home on Thursday.
Missing a pair of key players — Janiyha Riley and Jalei O’Neal — the Lady Lions were forced to rely on some players deep off the bench for crucial minutes. Columbia Central coach Joshua Bugg was proud of the effort his team received from those players.
“It’s exciting to see those girls step up to the challenge,” he said. “We’ve battled some injuries and the world’s been weird with COVID, but we’ve had some close losses. Tonight we fought over that hump.”
With the win, Central will now host Lincoln County on Tuesday night with a region berth on the line. That wouldn’t have been the case if not for a big run to start the second half. The Lady Lions took their first lead of the game with 3:08 to play in the third quarter during a 17-4 run.
Josie Parks hit her first of two 3-pointers in the period to jump start the Lady Lions, and Ryleigh Hamm added a pair of long balls as well for the hosts during that run. Shelbyville, however, battled back to regain the lead going to the fourth quarter.
Six quick points to start the fourth quarter was enough for the Lady Lions to put pressure on the Eaglettes, and they held their guests to just eight points in the quarter to pull away late.
Bugg said this win will hopefully propel his team to greater heights past the district tournament. If they can match their second-half effort from Thursday, the head coach feels confident those goals can be achieved.
“We have to come out and play with the effort and intensity we had in the second half tonight,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting knowing that if we win on Tuesday we get a chance to play in the region tournament.”
Columbia Central girls 53, Shelbyville 47
S 11 12 16 8 — 47
C 4 8 24 17 — 53
Shelbyville (47) — Lilly Brown 6, Kelsey Harden 7, Paige Blackburn 17, Kendall Dearing 11, Zoe Reed 6
Columbia Central (53) — Saviya Morgan 3, Ryleigh Hamm 15, Josie Parks 18, Kiyanna Edwards 7, Jenice Bailey 8, Emma Hughes 2
3-pointers — Shelbyville 2 (Dearing 2), Columbia Central 10 (Ham 5, Parks 3, Edwards 2)
Martin leads Lions to tough win over Eagles
Celebrating his 1,000th point, which he scored on Monday night at Lawrence County, Q Martin showed he may just be getting started.
The junior guard poured in a game-high 20 points as the Lions earned their 10th district win of the season, a 61-50 decision over Shelbyville.
Despite nine first-quarter points from Martin, however, the hosts found themselves trailing 15-14 after one. A pair of Cam Johnson treys later, the Lions regained the lead with 1:54 to go in the second quarter and would never relinquish it.
“Playing three games in four days, I thought we might come out a little sluggish,” coach Nick Campbell said. “I got after them a little bit at halftime, but they responded well.”
Carter Szydlowski’s putback just before halftime was a big lift for the hosts, who came out and pushed their three-point halftime lead to seven and held a six-point advantage after three.
Thanks in part to a near-perfect effort from the free throw line, the Lions were able to extend their lead late to seal the win. Columbia Central was 13-for-14 from the stripe, including 7-for-8 in the final frame.
Campbell was pleased with his team’s effort both on Thursday and throughout the season.
“It’s awesome to see where these guys have come from the last couple of years and how they’ve bought into what we’re trying to do,” he said. “I’m proud of them, they deserve all the credit.”
Columbia Central boys 61, Shelbyville 50
S 15 9 12 14 — 50
C 14 13 15 19 — 61
Shelbyville (50) — Jayson Jones 13, Daman Heath 8, Timothy Parsons 5, Jailain Anderson 17, Terrance Johnson 3, Kyler Trice 4
Columbia Central (61) — Cam Johnson 8, Demetrius McCoy 4, Carter Szydlowski 2, Q Martin 20, Omari Franklin 6, Bubba Perkins 7, Roni Bailey 4, Jordan Davis 10
3-pointers — Shelbyville 6 (Jones 3, Anderson 2, Parsons), Columbia Central 7 (Johnson 2, Franklin 2, Perkins)
Photos by Sarah Yow / SM-Tn Sports